Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Decision due over Finucane inquiry

The Government will make a final decision on whether to hold a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane

The Government is set to make a final decision on whether to hold a public inquiry into security force links to the murder of Northern Ireland solicitor Pat Finucane.

Police probes have already found evidence of collusion in the infamous killing carried out by the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in Belfast in 1989.

But while a full public inquiry was promised by government in 2004 as part of the developing peace process, the Finucane family has since said that new legislation on inquiries robs them of true independence.

Secretary of State Owen Paterson said he had met with the Finucane family earlier this week and now planned to spend two months considering the case before making a decision on whether or not to hold an inquiry.

"I believe it is right that I should determine the way forward in this case and that consequently I should set out a clear decision making process both to the House and to the Finucane family," he said in a ministerial statement released at Westminster.

Mr Paterson said the other factors he would consider when deciding the public interest would include the commitment given to the House of Commons in 2004 in relation to an inquiry. The conclusions of reviews and investigations into the case and the extent to which the case had caused, and was capable of causing, public concern.

The minister continued that the experience of the other inquiries established after the commitments made by government following political talks on Northern Ireland, and the delay that had occurred since the 2004 announcement and the potential length of any inquiry would also be considered. In addition to this, political developments that had taken place in Northern Ireland since 2004 and the potential cost of any inquiry and the current pressures on the UK Government's finances would be looked at, he said.

The murdered solicitor's widow, Geraldine Finucane, said the Secretary of State had written to her to outline his plans for the way forward. "I have received a detailed letter this morning from Owen Paterson," she said. "I am assessing the issues raised in the letter and I will be discussing the contents with my family shortly and we will respond in due course".

The Pat Finucane murder was the most notorious of a series of cases where it was alleged security forces colluded with loyalist paramilitaries during the Troubles. Police and army agents in the UDA were involved in the murder plot and a further loyalist has claimed he was prompted by police to kill the solicitor.

Mr Finucane was shot 14 times by gunmen who forced their way into his north Belfast home and attacked him as he ate a meal with his wife and three children. After years of speculation surrounding the murder, the former head of the Metropolitan Police Sir John Stevens reviewed the case and confirmed there was evidence of collusion.

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