Finucane family renew inquiry call

Pat Finucane was murdered at his Belfast home by loyalists in 1989.

The family of Pat Finucane have reiterated their call for a full public inquiry into the murder of the Belfast lawyer before a report containing highly classified documents is published next month.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012
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Sir Desmond de Silva QC was commissioned by the Government last year to undertake a legal review of the case, amid long-running allegations that the state colluded to facilitate Mr Finucane's murder.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, has told the House of Commons that his report will be released during the week beginning 10 December.

It is to be published in full, after security checks confirmed that no lives would be put at risk as a result.

Speaking after the announcement, Geraldine Finucane, widow of Pat Finucane, said: "My family and I remain committed to achieving our goal of an independent public inquiry into all of the circumstances surrounding Pat's murder.

"Our case for an inquiry has become even stronger following the admission by the British Government that there was state collusion in my husband's killing. This makes their refusal to honour the commitment to hold an inquiry even more disgraceful".

It is clear from what the Secretary of State has said today and previously that the Government has deployed every conceivable process, including the de Silva review itself, to ensure that the truth behind Pat's murder never sees the light of day.

Geraldine Finucane

Ms Finucane also claimed that "vital information has already been removed" from the report.

"By the time the report is made public it will have been sanitised completely, to ensure that the least possible amount of discomfort is caused to the Government and the British State," she said.

The father-of-three was gunned down in his north Belfast home by loyalist paramilitaries in 1989.

Sir Desmond has confirmed that the £1.5m report will take the "exceptional step" of including a number of highly classified documents.

"I decided that it was necessary to include these documents in view of the controversy surrounding this case and to ensure public confidence in my report," he said.

In view of the history of delays in independent reviews or inquiries such as this, I am pleased to say that my report has been produced on time and on budget.

Sir Desmond de Silva QC

The Secretary of State also confirmed on Tuesday that neither she nor any other member of the Government have yet been shown the report.

The only officials who are aware of its contents at this stage are the members of the checking team.

The checks had to be carried out to ensure that - under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights - no individuals were put at risk, and to safeguard national security.

"As with the publication of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Billy Wright Inquiry and Rosemary nelson Inquiry reports, I intend to give advance sight to those who the review has advised are interested parties, to their legal representatives, and to some Members of both houses," Ms Villiers added.

The decision to undertake a legal review angered members of the Finucane family who claimed it fell well short of the full public inquiry they had long campaigned for.

Relatives subsequently launched a legal challenge against Prime Minister David Cameron's refusal to establish an inquiry.

The de Silva review is not the public inquiry that Judge Cory recommended.

Labour NI shadow secretary Vernon Coaker

Labour's Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, Vernon Coaker MP said that not implementing a full inquiry was "a breach of the agreement made between both governments at Weston Park in 2001".

"Nor is the review what the Finucane family believe they were promised in negotiations with the government last year. That is a breach of trust."

He added: "Successive Tory Secretaries of State have shown a lack of commitment and sensitivity in dealing with Northern Ireland's past and the legacy of the Troubles. The case of Pat Finucane highlights the failure of their approach."

SDLP justice spokesperson Alban Maginness says he looks forward to the publication of the report but has some reservations about what it will find.

"We're not certain that this report, will in fact achieve what was originally envisaged in terms of a thorough going investigation into the murder of Pat Finucane," he said.

"That includes the political plumbing which is so important in all of this, because it's really the political aspects of Pat Finucane's murder that is of great concern to us."

Relevant parties including the Finucane family will be permitted to read the report before it is published.