Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Finucane family in murder probe bid

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said he had provided more time for talks with the family of Patrick Finucane

Relatives of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane have repeated their call for a fully independent inquiry into the case after it was confirmed they are in talks with the Government.

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said he had extended a consultation on the case by two months to facilitate the discussions, but the surprise announcement followed years of deadlock over one of the most controversial killings of the Troubles.

The Army, police and intelligence service have been implicated in the 1989 murder, which was carried out by loyalist paramilitaries who doubled as security force agents.

The Finucane family rejected efforts by the previous Labour government to conduct an investigation under the 2005 Inquiries Act and claimed it gave ministers undue influence over the outcome.

Mr Paterson had declared an interest in resolving the Finucane case, but while many observers believed the new Government would opt to draw a line under the issue, details have now emerged of efforts to broker an inquiry acceptable to both sides.

In separate statements the Secretary of State said there had been "useful" discussions, while solicitors for the Finucane family confirmed there had been "constructive" dialogue, but both signalled that an agreed way forward had not yet been reached.

Mr Paterson said: "In my written statement of November 11, I set out a period of two months during which I would receive representations as to whether it is in the public interest that I should establish a public inquiry into the death of Patrick Finucane.

"As part of this process, my officials have had a constructive meeting with representatives of the Finucane family and a further meeting will be arranged.

"In light of the fact that useful discussions are under way between the family and the Government, I have decided, with the agreement of the family, to extend the period during which I will receive representations by two months."

Mr Paterson said he will then consider if it is in the public interest to hold an inquiry into Mr Finucane's murder.

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