Decision day for Finucane inquiry

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Monday has become a day of reckoning as the date a court was told Britain will finally make a decision known on a public inquiry into the assassination of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane.

Mr Finucane was gunned down at his Belfast home in front of his family in 1989. He was killed by a UDA death squad working in collusion with the RUC Special Branch, and British army’s reconnaissance units.

His murder came as the Tory government was expressing its anger at lawyers who defended northern nationalists and republicans in the courts.

The British state for three decades has stalled and prevented an inquiry, despite the 2001 Weston Park agreement and a ruling by the British Supreme Court that all previous inquiries were “incapable of establishing the full facts and failed to meet the standards of Article two of the European Convention on Human Rights”.

Mr Finucane’s widow, Geraldine was forced to bring a judicial review against the British Direct Ruler over his failure to act on this decision. Brandon Lewis has indicated that a decision over how his government will proceed will be announced by Monday’s court-mandated deadline.

Four of the main political parties in the North, a group of US politicians and the 26 County Taoiseach Micheal Martin have all added their support to the family’s appeals for a proper inquiry in recent days. John and Geraldine Finucane (pictured) met the Taoiseach at Government Buildings in Dublin this week for the first time.

His son John, who witnessed the murder as a child and is now MP for North Belfast, has said it is “vital” that London makes the right decision and now announces a public inquiry.

“Only a public inquiry will get to the truth which the British government have tried to cover up for 30 years,” he said.

He said Mr Martin was “unequivocal and unambiguous” in giving the family not only his personal support but also the support of the Dublin government.

“He didn’t need us to explain to him the significance and importance and the need for an inquiry into the murder of my father, and he committed to and I understand has already engaged with Boris Johnson on this issue,” Mr Finucane said.

A motion to support a full independent, public judicial inquiry into the killing was unanimously agreed on Tuesday at the Dublin parliament’s Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking before the committee, Mr Finucane described how in February 1989 his family had “sat like many other families” enjoying their Sunday dinner around the kitchen table when “two gunmen burst in and shot my father 14 times and shot my mother once in front of us all”.

The Sinn Féin MP said one of the most significant moments in the family’s campaign to seek justice was when then British prime minister David Cameron apologised for the British state’s collusion in the killing.

Mr Finucane said a fully independent public judicial inquiry was the “only mechanism” that could “fully grasp all of the issues” that led to his father’s murder.

“There is only one option left for the British government to do and that is to have an inquiry, to have the inquiry that they promised, the promise they made to my family but also to the Irish government, the inquiry in which they have resisted, and put all of their time and their efforts and all of their considerable resources into resisting for over 30 years,” he said.

He added: “The British government needs to heed and read the room with where this issue is going. It’s not going away.

“We are no longer interested in who pulled the trigger – we want to know who pulled the strings and it is now time the British Government live up to the promises they previously made.”

A letter signed by 24 members of the US congress has also been sent to Mr Johnston urging him to order a proper investigation.

Republican congressman Chris Smith said: “The British government’s deliberate decision not to proceed with an independent, judicial inquiry into the Finucane murder - an unfulfilled commitment of the peace process - is a public breach of faith.”

Democrat Richard Neal, who is chairman of the bipartisan Friends of Ireland Caucus in the US Congress, said the Finucane family “has a right to truth and justice”.

They deserve to know what happened in February of 1989 and the level of state collusion into the murder of their husband and father,” he said. “This letter is calling on the British government to be accountable.”

Mr Martin told the Dublin parliament on Tuesday that the London government “should and must” hold a public inquiry into the killing. He said the Dublin government followed through on its commitment in the Weston Park agreement of 2001 when both governments agreed to hold public inquiries ‘irrespective of where they would lead’.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said a full public inquiry must happen as soon as possible “because the Finucane family has already waited far too long”.

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