Belfast human rights lawyer Pat Finucane was murdered to silence other lawyers, his son said in a moving event to mark the 30th anniversary of Mr Finucane’s murder.
The father of three was shot 14 times by a British death squad as he ate Sunday lunch at home with his family.
His son John was a schoolboy when his father was shot down in front of him. He told the audience at St Mary’s University College in west Belfast on Sunday: “Our lives changed forever.”
“It was a deliberate decision to kill him, to silence other lawyers and prevent them from doing that type of work,” he said.
“What we see now is a generation coming through with lawyers, people wanting their human rights.
“I think that is very much a legacy of Pat Finucane and what he stands for and represents. That gives me enormous pride. While they did silence him they could not have made a bigger mess of it if they tried.
“The name reverberates around the world and an enormous amount of credit for that is to due to my mother.”
In 2011, former British Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged the “shocking” level of British state collusion in the killing after receiving a report on the evidence.
However, despite agreeing to one in 2001, successive London governments have refused a public inquiry. A Supreme Court judgment on legal action connected to the case is pending.
As a defence lawyer from West Belfast, Mr Finucane was well known to be a thorn in the side of the murderous Crown Forces and the pro-unionist judicial system. During the republican hunger strikes in prison in the 1980s, he represented Bobby Sands.
Katherine Finucane said losing her father in such a brutal way added another dimension to their grief. That hurt was not resolved because the search for the truth continued, she added, and the consequences were many.
“We did not have him for long in our lives and although we have our memories we were robbed of so many more,” she said. “We keep my dad alive because we carry him in us. We not only fight for justice for him but for a future fit for our children and one that he would be proud of.”
Ms Finucane said the past was being inherited by her children, by another generation seeking answers about what happened. “It was not only my brothers and me who had our father stolen from them but our children, too,” she added.
She said her father was a keen footballer who did not like to lose, a man who was full of laughter. He inspired her to learn French as he asked directions during family holidays in Europe. She said he would have had great fun with her children had he lived. “We are of him and he has inspired us,” she concluded.
His widow described Sunday’s event as emotional. “Whilst it was a public event it remembered Pat as who he was and how he lived his life and that was very emotional,” she said.