Friday 23 February 2018

Pat Finucane family hold out little hope on new report into his murder by loyalists

Pat Finucane's widow Geraldine arrives with her children John (left), Michael (centre) and Katherine at the Houses of Parliament in central London to read the review of the report into the loyalist murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane which will be published later today. Photo: PA
Pat Finucane's widow Geraldine arrives with her children John (left), Michael (centre) and Katherine at the Houses of Parliament in central London to read the review of the report into the loyalist murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane which will be published later today. Photo: PA
Solicitor Pat Finucane was shot dead in north Belfast in February 1989

Michael McHugh

THE family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane say they have little confidence into a British report on the loyalist killing due out later today.

British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered the review, which runs to 500 pages, following security force collusion in the lawyer's death.

Mr Finucane, 38, was shot at his north Belfast home by loyalist paramilitaries from the Ulster Defence Association in 1989.

The killing was one of the most controversial of the 30 years of violence in the North because of allegations of security force collaboration with loyalists.

Mr Cameron has already accepted that collusion took place and apologised. He ordered a review by Desmond de Silva QC.

Mr Finucane's son John described the de Silva review as "the embodiment of a broken promise of the British Government".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Every time the Government have said they will look into the circumstances of the murder of my father, they have done so in a way which has excluded any involvement of my family.

"Whether that be a police investigation by Sir John Stevens, whether it is a behind-closed-doors non-statutory review by Desmond de Silva, it prohibits the public - and importantly my family - from having any input, from being able to ask any questions, from being able to see any documents or hear any evidence.

"You don't apologise for something but then not fully admit what it is you are apologising for, and I think that's what the Prime Minister has done.

"This case is the murder in which the British Government has admitted there was collusion. You don't deal with such a fundamental attack on democracy by holding a non-statutory review behind closed doors."

He added: "Unfortunately, the past record does not fill us with hope, but by all means we will be reading this report with an open mind. If it puts all our questions to bed then there will be nobody happier than me to move on with our lives.

"But this is something which doesn't just affect my family, it affects a very large section of society in Ireland. This is something that affected all sides of the community.

"I fear that the process that has led to this report is flawed, in the sense that it is a review of the papers. I find it hard that one can determine fact by only reviewing papers and not by challenging evidence."

Mr Finucane added: "The British Government entered into an agreement during peace talks in 2001 with the Irish Government in which they stated that there would be a public inquiry, if the recommendation was made.

"The recommendation was made in five cases in total, including my father's. Public inquiries have been set up in relation to the other four, they have commenced, they have finished, they have reported.

"The only case that's outstanding is the case of my father. This review, we feel, is the embodiment of a broken promise of the British Government. We do feel that if they are sincere in dealing with this issue then they need to grasp this issue and they need to deal with it in a credible fashion."

Pat Finucane's wife Geraldine told the BBC she did not have high hopes for the de Silva report: "I don't really expect it to tell me very much, because I will not know who he has spoken to, I will not know what he has seen, because there's too much to hide."

Mr De Silva has already said his report will reveal previously highly-classified documents relating to the murder.

The loyalist paramilitaries shot Mr Finucane 14 times as he sat eating a Sunday meal at home, wounding his wife in the process. The couple's three children witnessed the attack.

The former head of the Metropolitan Police in London, John Stevens, has investigated collusion claims surrounding Mr Finucane's death.

Shortly after starting the new inquiry, the Stevens team charged former Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch agent and loyalist quartermaster William Stobie in connection with the killing.

In November 2001 the case collapsed and he was shot dead outside his home within weeks.

In September 2004 a loyalist accused of murdering the solicitor pleaded guilty to murdering him. Ken Barrett entered his plea at the beginning of his trial.

In 2004, retired Canadian judge Mr Justice Peter Cory, asked by the Government to investigate cases of suspected collusion, concluded that military and police intelligence knew of the Finucane murder plot and failed to intervene. He recommended a public inquiry.

That year, Barrett was sentenced to 22 years' imprisonment.

In 2004, then Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy announced an inquiry under new legislation introduced in 2005.

The Finucane family opposed the Inquiries Act 2005, arguing it would allow government to interfere with the independence of a future inquiry because a government minister could rule whether the inquiry sat in public or private.

As a result, plans to establish an inquiry were halted by former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain.

In October 2011, the British Government ruled out a public inquiry into Mr Finucane's murder but put forward a proposal for a leading QC to review the case. That review is to be published today.

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