Belfast Telegraph

Pat Finucane murder: After 22 years, there is still no closure

By Adrian Rutherford

Two decades have passed since Pat Finucane was gunned down by a loyalist murder squad, and his relatives still continue to seek answers about his death.

At the centre of the controversy are allegations of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.

The Finucanes hoped a full, open inquiry would establish what they have long believed — that elements within the RUC colluded with the killers.

Pat Finucane was a prominent figure because he represented paramilitary suspects facing terrorism charges.

But that work often brought him into conflict with the authorities. In January 1989 Conservative MP Douglas Hogg had told the House of Commons that certain solicitors in Northern Ireland were “unduly sympathetic” to the IRA. Around the same time an RUC officer was reported to have told a client: “You will not be having Mr Finucane as a solicitor much longer.”

Three weeks later Pat Finucane was dead. A UFF gang smashed its way into his north Belfast home before killing him in front of his family.

The terror group claimed they had killed Mr Finucane because he was a high-ranking IRA officer. This allegation has always been denied by his family and the police.

It later emerged that Army double agent Brian Nelson was asked by his loyalist paramilitary chiefs to compile a dossier on the lawyer.

The question has always been, how much did Nelson pass on to his Army handlers?

In September 2004 loyalist Ken Barrett pleaded guilty to Mr Finucane’s murder. Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens, who conducted three inquiries into allegations of collusion, reached an unequivocal judgment in 2003.

Referring to the deaths of Mr Finucane and Adam Lambert, a Protestant student mistakenly killed in 1987, he wrote: “I conclude there was collusion in both murders and the circumstances surrounding them.”

In 2004 Northern Ireland Secretary of State Paul Murphy announced his intention to hold an inquiry under the new Inquiries Act. The Finucanes opposed the probe being held under this legislation, claiming it made the inquiry accountable to the minister responsible, rather than to Parliament.

Current Secretary of State Owen Paterson later engaged in talks with the family to try to resolve the stand-off.

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