Truth Or Continuing Cover Up?
A Full Public Judicial Inquiry Now
12th February 2002 --
The Finucane family's long campaign to find the hidden truth
behind the UDA murder of Pat Finucane, seems set to continue, despite the Weston
Park proposal of the appointment of an international judge to "thoroughly
investigate" six cases, including Pat's case.
Make no mistake about it. This is not the public judicial
inquiry that the family has been campaigning for. It is not the public inquiry
that the family are entitled to. This is a private, behind closed doors,
judicial investigation similar to the Dublin/Monaghan investigation and probably
does not meet the requirements of European Convention on Human Rights. The Human
Rights Commissioner, Brice Dickson has recently said so.
The six cases:- the killings of Pat Finucane, Rosemary
Nelson, Robert Hamill, Billy Wright, Bob Buchanan and Harry Breen, and Lord
Justice Maurice Gibson and his wife Cecily, - have been highlighted by the two
governments as representing nationalist and unionist concerns about state
involvement in murder.
Nationalist and Unionist leaders have also highlighted these cases. They are
cases of "urgent public importance". What could be more important than
allegations of a state's involvement in the murder of its own citizens?
In British law, if a matter is of "urgent public importance"
and has been passed by both houses of parliament then a public inquiry under the
Tribunals of Inquiry Act 1921 must be established. Such an inquiry will have all
the powers of the High Court to call for relevant material and subpoena relevant
witnesses who can be questioned in public.
If the two governments and the local political leaders have
highlighted these cases then why not establish public inquiries in these cases
immediately? Why go to the time and expense of appointing a judge to hold six
private investigations, particularly if it is likely that full public inquiries
will be set up afterwards? It doesn't make any sense.
Unless, of course, the real reason for the
appointment is delay or, more concerning to the Finucane family, if the real
reason is to prevent the establish a full public judicial inquiry by the
establishment of something less in the guise of something more.
The Finucane family want the truth. They don't want a report
from a judge who examines the facts in secret and then publishes a report which
purports to be the truth.
The facts should be examined in public where the family can
challenge any purported explanation or denial. They are entitled to have an
input into the calling of relevant evidence and the questioning of relevant
They will be able to do none of this if the Weston Park
proposals are implemented.
It will take a very long time for any judge to "thoroughly
investigate" six complex cases.
That is why the Finucane family see this effort as a cynical
exercise in delaying or attempting to prevent the inevitable.
They took the same view when John Stevens was appointed, for
the third time, to re investigate Pat's murder. The family decided to treat the
Stevens police investigation as a delaying tactic and the public can decide if
the family took the correct approach.
The third Stevens investigation or Stevens 3, as it is
known, resulted in a delay of three years. A trial resulted in which Billy
Stobie was acquitted. He was subsequently murdered. The Stevens report, whether
published or not will instil no confidence that Pat's case was thoroughly
investigated no more than the establishment of a judge to privately investigate
the same thing in which the family have no meaningful input.
The Finucane family were not informed that Pat's case was going to be used by
the two governments as a "bargaining chip" in the peace process.
The case has been the subject of a high profile campaign for
What is emerging and what is now in the public domain is a
picture of the British government's involvement in the murder of its own
citizens. The British military unit which directed Brian Nelson who directed the
UDA, was apparently involved in hundreds of murders of nationalists and
republicans, including that of Pat Finucane. That is the allegation. That
allegation has been published time and time again by many investigative
journalists. Pat Finucane was subjected to death threats from RUC officers in
Castlereagh Interrogation Centre prior to his murder. These threats were
documented prior to his murder. Douglas Hogg, the British Home Office Minister
made a statement in the House of Commons that some solicitors were sympathetic
to the IRA, three weeks before the murder. Pat was murdered with a British Army
browning pistol. Brian Nelson, the British army agent , who directed the murder,
was directed by the secret British Army unit, the Force Research Unit (FRU).
Billy Stobie, who was an RUC agent provided the weapons for the murder.
In 1999 on the 10th anniversary of Pat's murder, British
Irish Rights Watch compiled a report which included copies of British military
documentation. The documents contained information which led to the clear
conclusion that the military unit ( the FRU ) were involved in conspiracy to
The Report was handed to the British Government with a
request to authenticate the documents. So far they have not refuted the
allegation that the documents are genuine.
The disturbing thing is that they have not denied that such
a conspiracy existed.
The European Court rulings last May ( Jordan, McKerr,
Shanaghan, and Kelly v UK ) severely criticised the British Government for their
failure to provide a proper investigative process for hundreds of cases
involving state or loyalist killings.
The six cases highlighted at Weston Park are not the only
cases in which there are serious concerns about state involvement in murder. The
four cases taken to Strasbourg were representative of hundreds of cases which,
over a thirty year period, were not properly investigated.
Tony Blair said, when he established the Saville Inquiry
into Bloody Sunday, that
"Bloody Sunday was different because, where the state's
own authorities are concerned, we must be as sure as we can of the truth,
precisely because we pride ourselves on our democracy and respect for the law,
and on the professionalism and dedication of our security forces."
The Finucane family and other human rights organisations
such as the Human Rights Commission do not regard the Weston Park proposals as
satisfying the requirements of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human
They do not see why they have to get over another hurdle.
The campaign will continue. The family will continue to seek
support. They have waited long enough for the truth.
Pat Finucane in his short career sought justice for a large
number of people. He was too successful.
I have to play my part in seeking justice for him. I owe him
that at least.