09 February 2006

Govt urged to reject British control of Finucane murder inquiry


09/02/2006 - 19:00:43

The Irish Government must strongly reject a British bid to control an inquiry into the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, it was claimed today.

The Finucane family were told by Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain this week that the only way a probe could be carried out is under the restrictive Inquiries Act.

Pat Finucane’s son, Michael today told the Oireachtas Human Rights Sub-Committee in Dublin that this meant that those who sanctioned and covered up the killing would be investigating themselves in a sham inquiry.

It would offer neither independence, accountability or transparency, he added.

“The British will retain ultimate control of the inquiry mechanism,” he told the all-party body.

“In these circumstances, what one would be getting is an government-controlled intelligence services inquiry, where it could transpire that the only people in the room talking to each other are the very people who created the collusion monster in the first place, the people who sanctioned the killings and the people who covered them up afterwards. I will not participate in such a sham.”

Mr Finucane appeared at the committee in Leinster House with his brother Dermot and family solicitor, Peter Madden.

Pat Finucane was shot dead in front of his wife and children in his north Belfast home in February 1989.

The family has spent recent weeks briefing political party leaders north and south of the Border.

Oireachtas member Labour TD Michael Higgins proposed today that the Irish Government express concerns in the strongest manner to Westminster.

“It is beyond a matter of concern. We must recommend to the Irish Government that formal notice should be given to the British government that direct action is required to bring about a independent, public inquiry,” he said.

Seconding the motion, Fianna Fáil TD Pat Carey said he regarded the British government’s attempts to control the inquiry as a cynical approach.

“This is a red-line issue in relation to human rights,” he added.

Mr Carey, who is chairman of the British-Irish Interparliamentary Body, said he would raise the issue at the next plenary meeting in Killarney in April.

Independent TD Tony Gregory characterised the proposed British inquiry as a nonsense.

“We have to get the message across to the British that this is not acceptable under any circumstances,” he said.

Fianna Fáil Senator Mary White said she didn’t feel that the British government would listen to the Oireachtas.

Senator Terry Leyden described Mr Finucane’s murder as a state-sponsored assassination.

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