Finucane review branded as a sham
Pat Finucane was a Belfast-based solicitor who represented members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), including hunger striker Bobby Sands, during Northern Ireland’s troubles which began in the late 1960s and continued until the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The divisions in the country led to the deaths of more than 3,000 people in a conflict between republican and loyalist paramilitaries that also involved the British security forces.
On 12 February 1989, at the age of 38, Pat was shot dead in front of his wife and three children at their Belfast home. The loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), which carried out the murder, claimed that it had killed a member of the IRA. Pat’s family have always discounted this version, a view backed by the security services that have been known to state that there was no reason to believe he was a member of the IRA.
Ten years after Pat’s death, William Stobie, a member of the loyalist Ulster Defence Association and former police special branch agent, was charged with his murder. The case against him subsequently collapsed and he was later shot dead by loyalists.
In 2003, Ken Barrett was also charged with murder and was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his part in the murder.
In 2012 following a long-awaited report into the 1989 killing, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said he was ‘deeply sorry’ over the whole incident. He confirmed that the Pat Finucane Review, set up the previous year by the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, had found that ‘agents of the state’ were involved in the killing of Pat Finucane.
It was further disclosed that ‘state employees played key roles’ in the murder, providing assistance and information to the Ulster Defence Association which pulled the trigger in Finucane’s home. After the killing, members of both the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) lied to investigators, in a ‘relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice’, says the review.
A review of the case by Sir Desmond de Silva, QC, found that Pat would probably not have been executed by the Ulster Defence Association without the encouragement of British agents. Sir Desmond said state employees ‘furthered and facilitated’ the shooting of the 38-year-old, who was gunned down in front of his family in 1989.
However, it concluded there had been no overarching state conspiracy in the shooting, carried out by the loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters at the solicitor’s north Belfast home. Although David Cameron expressed shock at the level of collusion uncovered by Sir Desmond, Mr Finuncane’s widow, Geraldine claimed it was a sham and a whitewash.
At a press conference after the review was published, Mrs Finucane accused the British Government of suppressing the truth while attempting to blame dead individuals and disbanded organisations while exonerating ministers, serving officers and existing security agencies.
Mrs Finucane said: “Yet another British government has engineered a suppression of the truth behind the murder of my husband. At every turn it is clear that this report has done exactly what was required – to give the benefit of the doubt to the state, its Cabinet and ministers, to the Army, to the intelligence services and to itself.
“At every turn, dead witnesses have been blamed and defunct agencies found wanting. Serving personnel and active state departments appear to have been excused. The dirt has been swept under the carpet without any serious attempt to lift the lid on what really happened to Pat and so many others.
“This report is a sham, this report is a whitewash, this report is a confidence trick dressed up as independent scrutiny and given invisible clothes of reliability. But most of all, most hurtful and insulting of all, this report is not the truth.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the prime minister said: “There is nothing we want to add to this story.”
Niall O’Dowd reported in the Irish Central; The latest British inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane is again leaving massive questions unanswered.
The Guardian newspaper editorial headline said it best; “Pat Finucane murder: collusion, contrition, but not the whole truth.”
“My strong belief is that the whole truth is that Margaret Thatcher ordered the Pat Finucane murder on February 12, 1989. That is the key reason that no British Prime Minister will ever allow a public inquiry into the killing of the Belfast civil rights lawyer gunned down in front of his wife and children at his home.
“He was shot 14 times while his widow, Geraldine, who was injured, tried to save him. His only offense was to defend suspected IRA men and women too well in their court hearings. I am not at all surprised that David Cameron uttered words of regret and then refused a public inquiry after the Da Silva report was issued yesterday.
“Geraldine Finucane, a woman of immense courage, called it for what it was, a ‘sham.”
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