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Tuesday 23 January 2018

Pat Finucane widow to meet David Cameron today to demand inquiry

Michael McHugh

The widow of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane is to have talks with Prime Minister David Cameron about the family's demand for a full independent inquiry.

Even though Downing Street is believed to be considering agreeing to some form of investigative tribunal, Geraldine Finucane said they would settle for nothing less than a probe which was public, effective and independent.

She said: "We would not accept such an inquiry and neither will the wider public who have very serious concerns about the circumstances of Pat's murder."

Relatives of the dead man, aged 39 when he was murdered, meet the Prime Minister and Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson on October 11 at Downing Street.

Mr Finucane's widow added: "It is expected that we will be told what the decision of the Government is with regard to the holding of an inquiry.

"I expect the Prime Minister to confirm that his Government will honour the commitment given during negotiations at Weston Park in 2001 and establish an inquiry that is consistent with the recommendations made in the report submitted to the Government by former Supreme Court Judge Peter Cory in 2004."

Loyalist paramilitaries shot Mr Finucane 14 times at his Belfast home and there were later claims British security forces colluded with the lawyer's killers.

Tony Blair promised the victim's family that the allegations would be investigated but no inquiry was set up.

Mr Finucane was shot as he sat eating a Sunday meal at home, wounding his wife in the process. The couple's three children witnessed the 1989 attack.

There were allegations that some members of the security forces collaborated with loyalist paramilitaries to the extent that they could have stopped the killing.

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory was appointed by the British and Irish governments to examine allegations of collusion surrounding the Finucane and other controversial killings.

He recommended a public inquiry into Mr Finucane's death, as well as inquiries into the murders of Portadown, Co Armagh, Catholic Robert Hamill; solicitor Rosemary Nelson and Loyalist Volunteer Force leader Billy Wright, shot dead by republicans at the high-security Maze Prison. The three other inquiries have already been held.

Loyalist Ken Barrett, 41, was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court to life for Mr Finucane's murder, after admitting his part in the killing.

At last month's Labour Party conference, shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward urged the Conservatives to launch the Finucane inquiry. Mr Paterson has said the Government will set out its position soon.

Mrs Finucane said the family was not prepared to settle for any form of inquiry.

"How the process operates is just as important as the establishment of one," she added.

"An inquiry that is not public, effective, independent or fully prepared to allow my family to participate to the maximum extent is not an inquiry worth having."

The Government has been seeking a way of dealing with the past which acknowledges the hurt suffered while avoiding lengthy and expensive investigations like the Saville Inquiry into the shooting dead of civil rights protesters by soldiers.

Mrs Finucane said: "I believe that it is a mistake to ignore cases of serious concern just because they are in the past.

"I believe the only way our society can move forward into a peaceful future is by examining the controversies of our past and exposing them fully for all to see.

"I believe this creates foundations of confidence, upon which lasting peace can be built."

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