24 May 2006

Finucanes stay focused on inquiry

Belfast Telegraph

By Marie Foy
24 May 2006

The family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane last night said their main focus was on securing the truth about his death after the release of his killer.

Mr Finucane's eldest son Michael said: "The release of Ken Barrett was inevitable and although the timing is perhaps a little surprising, the event itself is not."

The murder victim's son said: "However, the significance of Mr Barrett should not be overestimated. The real focus for my family is to succeed in our campaign to have a fully independent, public judicial inquiry into the murder as agreed by the two governments at Weston Park in 2001.

"This is what we must achieve and it is also what successive British governments have refused to allow, including the present administration of Tony Blair with the help of his Secretary of State, Peter Hain."

The Dublin-based solicitor said: "The case of Pat Finucane was a case where justice needs to be done and seen to be done," he added.

Sinn Fein justice spokesman Gerry Kelly said the truth about the murder would only come out through an independent inquiry.

The North Belfast MLA said: "Nobody believes that the murder of Pat Finucane was planned, organised and carried out by loyalists from the Shankill acting alone.

"The case of Pat Finucane goes to the very heart of the British state policy of collusion with unionist paramilitaries.

"That is why successive British governments have sought to conceal the truth by continuing to stall the sort of investigation demanded by the Finucane family," said Mr Kelly.

Nationalist SDLP justice spokesman Alban Maginness said the release of Ken Barrett by no means ended the controversy over the murder.

"Whatever Barrett's role in the murder of Pat Finucane, it remains essential that the full truth behind the murder, the activities of the Forces Research Unit (FRU) and the approval for the FRU in and around government must be made public and acknowledged," he said.

"The failure of Downing Street to honour its commitment to a public independent inquiry must be challenged, exposed and overturned.

"The family deserve and justice demands nothing less."

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said he was shocked and surprised at Barrett's release at this point in time.

"With such a particularly controversial murder, I think we haven't heard the last of it.

"I have no doubt some people will feel because of the allegations linking him to members of the security forces that was the reason. I have no evidence that in fact was the case," he said.

"I would have thought that people would be interested in an explanation and have no doubt that could probably be acquired through a parliamentary question."

Former detective Trevor McIlwrath, who pursued Barrett for the murder, said: "It flies in the face of justice. Murderers are being allowed to walk the streets while former police officers and UDR and British Army soldiers are being pursued for lesser crimes.

"Does anyone think he is going to hang around for a public inquiry?"

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