08 February 2006

‘Spooks’ try to take over

Daily Ireland

Angry Finucane family demands to know “who the hell is running the country?” after Hain meeting

By Jarlath Kearney

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us The family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane last night appealed for the Irish government to urgently intervene in the controversial case.
Pat Finucane’s widow Geraldine and son Michael, together with Jane Winter of British-Irish Rights Watch, met with secretary of state Peter Hain and senior British government officials yesterday morning in Belfast.
Speaking to Daily Ireland last night, Michael Finucane angrily demanded to know “who the hell is running the country”.
During yesterday morning’s meeting, Mr Hain insisted that an inquiry into Pat Finucane’s 1989 murder by loyalists could only take place under the terms of the controversial Inquiries Act.
The British government’s position is based on an alleged need to protect “national security” considerations.
This Sunday marks the 17th anniversary of Mr Finucane’s murder.
Five of the loyalists directly involved in the murder have since been exposed as agents working for different branches of the British intelligence services, including RUC Special Branch.
At the Weston Park political negotiations in 2001, the British government agreed to implement any recommendation made about the case by Canadian judge Peter Cory.
After Judge Cory conducted his independent review of the facts, he found strong evidence of state collusion in Mr Finucane’s murder and recommended a full independent inquiry.
However last year the British government introduced the Inquiries Act to provide for an inquiry under terms controlled by a government minister rather than an independent tribunal.
Describing yesterday’s meeting as “disappointingly familiar”, Michael Finucane hit out at Peter Hain’s refusal to consider any vehicle other than the Inquiries Act for investigating his father’s case.
“That position now means that the British government is insistent on proceeding with an inquiry that will not have the co-operation or the endorsement of the Finucane family,” Mr Finucane said.
“The meeting really did underline the extent to which this government (the British) is under the control of the intelligence services, to such an extent that they - MI5, Special Branch and so forth - are capable of dictating the terms of an inquiry into an issue as serious as Pat Finucane and collusion.
“Insofar as the British maintain that the Inquiries Act is the best vehicle in these circumstances, they are obviously pandering to the whims - and sometimes demands - of the security services.
“Mr Hain and his officials continually talked about the need to achieve the co-operation of the intelligence services and that such co-operation is only possible if the Inquiries Act is used and restriction notices are employed.
“What was agreed at Weston Park in 2001 was a public and independent inquiry if so recommended by Judge Cory.
“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.
“Mr Hain said that the intelligence services would only be prepared to co-operate in providing information when restriction notices would be in place.
“That demonstrates that it is the people who currently have the information locked away in their offices and files who control any inquiry.
“You really come away from such a meeting with the burning question: who the hell is running the country?” Mr Finucane said.
Appealing for the urgent intervention of the Irish government, the Finucane family are now seek a meeting with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in coming weeks.
Michael Finucane stressed his family’s consistent position that they remain “very anxious to take part in any inquiry that is obviously and verifiably independent”.
However Mr Finucane expressed concern that “there is now a serious risk of an impasse developing that will be very, very difficult to solve”.
He said: “Ultimately it has to be solved, because in my view it really has now become something of an acid test for the British.
“They have to deliver on it.
“If they are ever going to be hopeful of gaining public confidence to any degree, then they’re going to have to establish a proper public independent inquiry into Pat Finucane’s murder,” Mr Finucane said.

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