Saturday 21 October 2017

Son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane will run for Sinn Féin

Pat Finucane
Pat Finucane

David Young, Press Association

A son of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane has been announced as a Sinn Fein election candidate.

John Finucane will try to unseat outgoing Democratic Unionist deputy leader Nigel Dodds in what is set to be one of the most high-profile of Northern Ireland's 18 constituency battles.

Mr Finucane, also a lawyer, has been at the forefront of his family's long legal battle to secure answers about the notorious 1989 murder.

"I'm very proud to have been nominated to go forward for selection as the North Belfast Sinn Fein candidate for upcoming Westminster election," he tweeted.

Pat Finucane, 38, who represented a number of high-profile republicans, was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his wife and three children at their north Belfast home in February 1989.

The killing, one of the most controversial of The Troubles, is shrouded in controversy amid allegations the security forces colluded with the gunmen from the outlawed Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

The family has so far failed in legal bids to make the Government see through a commitment made during peace process negotiations at Weston Park in 2001 to hold a public inquiry.

Judges have upheld the Government's right to balance public interest factors, such as costs, when, years later, it opted to commission a review of case papers by QC Sir Desmond de Silva rather than instigate an inquiry.

In publishing his findings in 2012, Sir Desmond detailed shocking levels of state involvement in the case.

That included spreading malicious propaganda suggesting Mr Finucane was sympathetic to the IRA; one or possibly more police officers proposing him as a target to loyalists; and the mishandling of state agents inside the UDA who were involved in the murder.

While he found no evidence of an overarching conspiracy by the authorities to target the solicitor, Sir Desmond said the actions of a number of state employees had "furthered and facilitated'' the shooting.

He also said there had been efforts to thwart the subsequent criminal investigation.

While he was prime minister, David Cameron apologised to the Finucane family in the House of Commons.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly, the party's previous Westminster candidate, nominated Mr Finucane.

"I am confident that in John Finucane we can return a nationalist MP for the first time in the history of North Belfast and between now and June 8th we will be pulling out all the stops to make this possible," he said.

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