13 February 2006

Paisley told of Finucane concerns


13 February 2006

The widow of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane has described as "good" a meeting with DUP leader Ian Paisley.

Mr Finucane, 39, was shot dead in front of his family

Geraldine Finucane said Mr Paisley listened carefully to her case for a full inquiry into the killing and said the family and DUP had much in common.

The DUP said it was a useful meeting. Mr Finucane, 39, was killed by loyalist paramilitaries at his home in 1989.

It was one of the most controversial killings of the Troubles due to claims of security force collusion.

His family have said they do not think an inquiry held under the Inquiries Act would be able to get to the truth.

Mrs Finucane described Monday's meeting with the DUP as "very open and very cordial".

"Dr Paisley and the rest of the members of the DUP were more than willing to listen to what we had to say," she said.

"We discovered by the end of the meeting that we had a lot in common."

DUP sources told the BBC they hoped the meeting would be worthwhile for the family, and there was "significant common ground" as the DUP took an interest in a number of victims' cases.

Ahead of the meeting, Ian Paisley Jnr said they were "prepared to listen" to the Finucane family.

"They are entitled to a meeting and put what issues they want to put to us," he said.

"If an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane is not even supported by the family of Pat Finucane, then what possible benefit can it have?"
Michael Finucane

"There are other inquiries that we hope to see proceeding, for example the investigation into the Billy Wright murder."

Mr Finucane's son, Michael, said: "The issue to be discussed here is a public inquiry into the murder of my father in circumstances where it is alleged the state colluded in the killing and the wider implications of that because it appears to have been a systemic policy of collusion.

"I think as serious politicians the Paisleys will listen to the issue.

"All I can hope for is that they do the same as anybody else we have ever spoken to, that is assess the issue on its merits."

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended separate inquiries into Mr Finucane's murder, and three other controversial killings in Northern Ireland.

These were the killings of solicitor Rosemary Nelson, leading loyalist Billy Wright and Catholic father of two Robert Hamill.

Government's discretion

The Finucane family, human rights campaigners and nationalist politicians, as well as Judge Cory, have expressed alarm at moves by the government to ensure the tribunal into Mr Finucane's murder is held under the Inquiries Act, which was passed earlier this year.

They have claimed the Act will suppress the truth about what happened, with Amnesty International saying crucial evidence could be omitted from any final report at the government's discretion.

Michael Finucane said: "If an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane is not even supported by the family of Pat Finucane then what possible benefit can it have?"

The human rights group has urged judges not to sit on the inquiry into Mr Finucane's death.

Last week the Finucanes met Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain to discuss the inquiry.

They have also held talks with Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey.

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