Ahern accepts past collusion, future cover-up
Ahern accepts past collusion, future cover-up

26-County Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said he always believed there was British collusion in the murder of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane.

But he was not confident evidence of that collusion would emerge, as the British Government still refused to hold a full public inquiry into the 1989 killing.

A planned limited investigation by the British authorities, under the Inquiries Act 2005, allows ministers to block evidence from being made public.

“We do not believe the collusion issue will be properly addressed under this system,” Mr Ahern told the Dublin parliament on Wednesday.

He said the British government was unlikely to yield on the issue, but did not reveal any plan for protest or counter-measure.

“I can give the House no comfort. There is no question of diplomatic niceties. This has been raised at endless meetings, which have been far from diplomatic niceties. The British Government will not change.”

Mr Ahern said British Direct Ruler Peter Hain told him last Thursday in Washington that the inquiry would proceed, and that a venue was being sought.

“I told him he would be doing that without the support of the Government, or any parties in the Oireachtas, and the many human rights groups involved in this case.”

It was his understanding, however, that the British government was struggling to find a judge willing to chair the inquiry because of the restrictive nature of the Inquiries Act.

“The legal world has been quite active in putting out reasons a judge should not take up the position,” Mr Ahern said.

The family of Pat Finucane made a fresh appeal yesterday to judges around the world not to sit on the inquiry.

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended to the British government that there was a need for a public inquiry into the state collusion with the Finucane murderers.

Judge Cory has been outspoken in opposition to the use of the Inquiries Act of 2005.

Michael Finucane said: “I cannot put it better than Judge Cory when he said no self-respecting judge could allow himself to be involved in such an inquiry.

“As constituted by the British, it is not independent, not Cory-compliant and not acceptable to us as a family.”

The Finucane family travelled to America last week where they met President George W Bush, senator Hillary Clinton, US special envoy Mitchell Reiss and Irish ambassador Noel Fahey.

The US Congress is now expected to increase pressure on the British government by calling for a full public inquiry.

The resolution, which is being supported by Democrat and Republican congressmen, comes just weeks after the Dublin parliament passed a similar motion.

Welcoming cross-party US support, Mr Finucane’s son John said: “Mitchell Reiss told us that he raises the need for a public inquiry into my father’s murder every time he meets the British.

“Bertie Ahern said he raised the issue with George Bush last week.

“The Irish government has consistently raised the issue with the British government, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

“Now we have a resolution going forward to the congress.

“It shows that the British government are internationally isolated.”

If the government presses ahead with the inquiry under the Inquiries Act, the Finucane family is pledged to a policy of non co-operation.


* Bertie Ahern has pledged to seek a full investigation into the 1997 murder of a young Belfast man, Raymond McCord jnr, by the unionist paramilitary UVF.

After an hour-long meeting with the victim’s father Raymond McCord snr, a spokeswoman for the Taoiseach said Mr Ahern was particularly concerned about the possible use of informers in the murder.

The McCord family believes British forces covered up the 1997 murder of the 22-year-old. Mr McCord snr said he was impressed by the Taoiseach’s knowledge of the case and the strength of his support for an inquiry.

“Mr Ahern has given me his assurances that he will do everything he can to help us get justice for young Raymond and I believe the man,” he said.

“I would like the Irish Government to go all the way like they did for the Finucane family in terms of an independent public inquiry.”

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