07 February 2006

Finucane family to meet Paisley for the first time

Daily Ireland

By Jarlath Kearney

Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley has agreed to his first ever meeting with the family of the murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
Mr Paisley’s meeting with the Finucane family is scheduled to take place next Monday at Stormont. Pat Finucane’s 17th anniversary is this Sunday.
Over recent months, the Finucanes have engaged in an intensive series of meetings with various political and religious leaders throughout Ireland.
Later this morning, Pat Finucane’s widow Geraldine will meet secretary of state Peter Hain. On Thursday, she will address the Oireachtas joint committee on foreign affairs.
Mr Hain is expected to put pressure the Finucane family to accept that any inquiry into the 1989 murder will take place under the terms of the controversial Inquiries Act.
Daily Ireland understands that Mr Hain is effectively offering the Finucane family an ultimatum of either accepting an inquiry under the Inquiries Act or accepting that no inquiry will ever be held.
The family has persistently campaigned for a full public international and independent inquiry into Pat Finucane’s murder. Since the killing, five of the loyalists directly involved have been uncovered as agents of the British security and intelligence services.
In 2001, the British and Irish governments agreed to have the case of Pat Finucane, along with five other controversial incidents, reviewed by the Canadian judge Peter Cory. Judge Cory found strong evidence of state collusion in Pat Finucane’s murder.
Last year, the British government established the Inquiries Act to ensure that the Finucane inquiry would be held under terms controlled by a government minister rather than an independent tribunal.
A spokesperson for the family yesterday reiterated the Finucanes’ determination to secure a full public international and independent inquiry. When such a tribunal is established, the Finucanes intend to take part, the spokesperson said.
At last week’s British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference meeting in London, Irish foreign minister Dermot Ahern again called on the British government to fulfil its commitment to implement Judge Cory’s recommendation.
That call followed Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s statement of support for the Finucane family in the Dáil on January 31.
Dermot Ahern said: “The government continues to support a full independent public inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane.
“We have made clear that we want to see the standard agreed at Weston Park and set by Judge Cory adhered to.
“We continue to share the concern of the Finucane family that the new Inquiries Act, under which the British government intends to have the Finucane case investigated, will not meet these standards.
“We have raised these concerns with the British government. The family has our full and continuing support in all their tireless efforts over so many years to achieve the full truth in this deeply disturbing case,” Dermot Ahern said.

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