independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Rift in relations as Britain rules out Finucane inquiry

Geraldine Finucane with her sons Michael (right) and John Finucane and daughter Katherine in Westminster, London

THE rift between the Irish and British governments has widened dramatically after a report found there was collusion in the killing of Pat Finucane.

Senior government figures say the demand for a full independent inquiry is "one of the most significant issues" damaging relations between the two countries.

"There is a very clear difference of opinion between the two governments on this issue," a coalition source said.

Mr Finucane was gunned down in front of his wife Geraldine and their three children inside their north Belfast home in February 1989. Government figures believe a new report into the murder has added momentum to the demands and rationale for an inquiry.

Sham

"It underlines the case for a public inquiry. At least now, there is a report which can be followed up on and acted upon. We want to see that this report is taken seriously by the relevant authorities," another source said.

Although the stalemate over the inquiry remains, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told British Prime Minister David Cameron the Government wants such an investigation.

Raising the demands at the highest level, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore also brought the matter up with his counterpart, Nick Clegg.

British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband is also supporting the call for a public inquiry. The murdered solicitor's family have branded the latest review a sham and again repeated their demand for an independent public inquiry.

Mr Cameron admitted the level of state collusion uncovered by a report into the murder of Mr Finucane was "shocking".

However, Desmond de Silva's review concluded that there was "no overarching state conspiracy".

The de Silva review confirmed that agents of the state were involved in the 1989 killing and that it should have been prevented.

Mr Kenny spoke with Mr Cameron yesterday morning and the Taoiseach repeated the Government's position.

"It is a matter of public record that the Irish Government disagrees strongly with the decision by the British government last year not to conduct a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane," he said.

"The Government's position has consistently been in accordance with the all-party motion adopted in the Dail in 2006 which called for a full, independent, public inquiry.

"That position is unchanged."

Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore both spoke with Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine Finucane, yesterday. The leaders are expected to meet with the Finucane family in the New Year.

Mrs Finucane said Mr Kenny had always been very supportive of the family's fight and said she would not be surprised if the Government now upped the ante.

Despite the report's findings, Mr Cameron refused again to launch a public inquiry into the loyalist murder of the Belfast solicitor.

Mr Cameron told the House of Commons the collusion detailed was totally unacceptable and reiterated his previous apology to Mr Finucane's family. Yet he insisted an inquiry would not shed any more light on the scandal.

Shooting

The 500-page review of the case heavily criticised the actions of a number of state employees, who it said "furthered and facilitated" the shooting of the 38-year-old father of three by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in 1989.

The collusion outlined included spreading malicious propaganda that 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.

But the report found no evidence of an over-arching conspiracy by the authorities to target Mr Finucane.

Irish Independent

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