Irish Republican News · March 9, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
All-party vote for Finucane inquiry

The Dublin parliament has unanimously backed a motion calling for a “full, independent, public judicial inquiry” into the 1989 murder of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane.

Mr Finucane’s murder in front of his family by a death-squad of British agents was one of the most controversial of the conflict.

Moving the motion on Wednesday, 26-County Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said his government had consistently raised the issue over several years with the British government, the European parliament, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

He pointed out that the inquiry planned under the 2005 UK Inquiries Act was “not acceptable to the family, to this Government, to the committee of ministers in Strasbourg, nor to the many international human rights groups who support the Finucane case”.

The vote in the Dail saw rare all-party support for a northern nationalist issue. Mr Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, and sons Michael and Dermot were in the visitors’ gallery to hear the debate.

Speaking to the motion, Sinn Féin TD, Caoimhghin O Caolain called on the Dublin Government to internationalise the campaign. He described the evening’s all-party motion as a significant and positive development and said it “shows the strength of support” for the Finucane family . He said the word collusion was “inadequate” to describe the policy of state killings by proxy.

“Loyalist paramilitary groups, in their various guises, were used as counter-insurgency gangs by the British state,” he said. “Key British strategist Brigadier Frank Kitson admitted this quite openly.

“At all levels the hand of the British state was evident. In some cases, as in that of the UDA, it was actually in on the establishment of the paramilitary groups. In other cases it controlled key players and operations, either directly or indirectly. In all cases it heavily infiltrated these groups with its agents and protected them at all costs, even if this meant allowing murders to be carried out. And of course British intelligence pointed killers in the direction of their targets, in the case of Patrick Finucane through their agent Brian Nelson.

“So long as the British Prime Minister fails to confront these forces in his own system he is complicit with them.”

Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended a full inquiry into Mr Finucane’s murder when he was asked to review the case. The Finucane family, human rights campaigners and nationalist politicians, as well as Judge Cory, have expressed alarm at moves by the government to ensure the tribunal into Mr Finucane’s murder is held under a new Inquiries Act, which was passed earlier this year.

The Act will allow details about what happened to be suppressed. Amnesty International said crucial evidence could be omitted from any final report at the British government’s discretion.

“By refusing to hold the inquiry as recommended by Judge Peter Cory the British government is in flagrant breach of its own commitments given at the Weston Park talks,” said Mr O Caolain. “It stands indicted before the international community.

“The main obstacle to an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane is the British government’s insistence that the inquiry must be held under the odious Inquiries Act which would give a British minister the power of veto over the evidence given, the duration of the inquiry and the final report.

“Pressure must be brought to bear on the British government to repeal that draconian Act. The Irish Government needs to make very plain to the Irish people, to people in Britain and to the international community why an inquiry under this legislation would be entirely unacceptable.”

Opposition leader Enda Kenny said it was “vital that the elected representatives of the Irish people send a clear message to the British government and wider audiences on the issue of a murder which rocked Northern Ireland when it took place”.

He said the world had lost a human rights defender as well as a loving husband and adoring father in the most savage of circumstances.

The Fine Gael leader said: “In this time of new and fragile peace, it behoves the British government to confront, unequivocally, what is a major disquiet for people north and south.

“The inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane must be forensic, independent and public. In terms of both justice and human decency, it is long overdue. It is needed now.”

Labour Party TD Michael D Higgins accused Downing Street of taking a “strategic decision” to withhold the truth on the Finucane death.

“One can only conclude that the British government want to indulge in a major cover-up in order to prevent the true nature of the collusion between the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the loyalist paramilitaries who murdered Pat Finucane coming into the public domain.”

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2006 Irish Republican News