28 February 2006

Hain: Don’t blame me

Daily Ireland

Direct ruler tells Finucanes he is not responsible for what happened during Thatcher’s reign

By Jarlath Kearney

- Relatives of murdered solicitor learn that intelligence and secret service members involved are still serving as Crown employees -

Direct-rule Northern secretary Peter Hain has allegedly told Pat Finucane’s family not to blame him “for what happened under Maggie Thatcher”.
It has also been learned that members of Britain’s intelligence and security services who were involved in the circumstances surrounding Mr Finucane’s 1989 murder are continuing to serve as Crown employees.
An informed source last night confirmed that British officials made the admission during a meeting between members of Mr Finucane’s family and secretary of state Peter Hain in Belfast three weeks ago.
It has been alleged that during the meeting on February 7, Mr Hain told the Finucane family: “Don’t blame me for what happened under Maggie Thatcher”.
Last night the NIO told Daily Ireland that they would not comment on what may or may not have been said at the meeting.
The NIO also confirmed that a private, personal letter sent by Mr Hain to Geraldine Finucane last week was divulged by the British government to the media in recent days.
“We gave it (to the press), we didn’t leak it,” an NIO spokesman said.
Mr Finucane – a prominent defence solicitor – was murdered in front of his family at their north Belfast home in 1989. Although the UDA was responsible for the killing, at least five loyalists implicated in the affair were British government agents.
Following the 2001 Weston Park multi-party negotiations, Canadian judge Peter Cory was appointed to review the circumstances surrounding Mr Finucane’s murder.
Judge Cory’s report was published in edited form by the British government in 2004.
Judge Cory recommended a public, independent inquiry into the murder to investigate prima facie evidence of collusion.
However, the British government has since introduced the controversial new Inquiries Act.
This legislation vests a government minister – rather than an independent tribunal – with control over any inquiry.
The Finucane family has rejected the Inquiries Act.
After his family’s meeting with Mr Hain on February 7, Pat Finucane’s son Michael told Daily Ireland that the British government was not implementing Judge Cory’s recommendation: “What is now being proposed is an intelligence services’ inquiry, in which it is entirely possible the only people who will see all of the relevant material are the intelligence services who created it in the first instance.
“You really come away from such a meeting with the burning question: who the hell is running the country?” Mr Finucane said.
Last week, during a visit to Belfast, Judge Cory branded the British government’s approach as “Alice in Wonderland”.
“My goodness, when you look at it, in the middle of everything, you move the goal posts and you change the rules of the game. I just don’t think it’s the way to run a railroad, but I’m not running the railroad.
“If you told me at the beginning, ‘no matter what you do we’re going to change the rules’, then any self-respecting person would say, ‘thank you, no, I’d just as soon not, this is Mickey Mouse – it’s Alice in Wonderland’. But you don’t know that at the time,” Judge Cory said.
In a statement to Daily Ireland yesterday, Peter Hain claimed that the Inquiries Act was the only vehicle for progressing an inquiry into Pat Finucane’s murder.
“The inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane will hear evidence that goes to the heart of national security in Northern Ireland,” Mr Hain said.
“There will be evidence which cannot be made public because it could cause real damage to national security or put lives in danger.
“The inquiry report will be published and anything that is held back – redacted –will be the bare minimum necessary to protect national security and fulfil the government’s legal obligations. This inquiry would have full co-operation from government. The murder of Pat Finucane must be investigated fully. To continue to argue about the process when this is the only way it can be done simply adds to the sense of frustration and serves no interest, least of all that of establishing the truth,” Mr Hain said.

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