Belfast Telegraph

DUP MP refuses to say if Pat Finucane family badly served by justice system - 'Why give one case special attention over the rest'?

Jeffrey Donaldson
Jeffrey Donaldson
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

The DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson dodged a question on if the Finucane family had been "badly served" by the justice system over investigative failures into the loyalist killing, saying he did not see why "one case should get special attention over and above any other".

He was speaking a day after the Supreme Court ruled investigations into the 1989 shooting had not been effective in establishing the full facts of the case ruling they had not been compliant with human rights.

The court, however, did not recommend a public inquiry be held into the death.

Mr Finucane was gunned down as he sat with his family for Sunday lunch in his north Belfast home. An investigation by a former UN war crimes prosecutor Sir Desmond de Silva QC found "shocking" levels of state collusion involving the Army, police and MI5 but ruled out an "overarching state conspiracy". Something the family described as a "whitewash".

On the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was asked if the Finucane family had been "badly served" by the justice system.

He said: "Clearly the Finucane family feel very strongly about this."

Pressed again on the matter, he added: "I think they have had much more opportunity to access justice than the vast majority of families."

He was asked for a "simple answer" on the matter to which Sir Jeffrey said the system of justice had offered the family an inquiry under the inquiries act and which they had rejected.

We are entitled to say, what of all the other deaths?

He said he "did not accept" the family's argument that offer did not go far enough in that it would possibly restrict the disclosure of information and on the calling of witnesses. Sir Jeffrey said the the family were "wrong" to refuse that offer.

Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane (Handout/PA)
Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane (Handout/PA)

"In the troubles in Northern Ireland there were over 3,000 deaths and the vast majority of people feel that they haven't had the opportunity under the legacy process to have those deaths properly investigated or reviewed," he said.

"Therefore we are entitled to say, what of all the other deaths? What of all the people who still haven't had their cases reviewed?  We need to look at this in the context of the legacy process itself.

"We believe it would be wrong to give one particular death special privilege or attention over all of the other deaths that have occurred.

Why this one and not others?

"What we need is agreement on how we move the legacy process forward and of course the death of Pat Finucane will be examined in that context just as will all of the other deaths."

The MP was asked it was not important to highlight one case to demonstrate the failures and potentially encourage other probes into deaths.

"Why this one and not others?," Sir Jeffrey asked.

"I could give you many, many other examples where families have so far been denied to have the opportunity to have the death of their loved ones reviewed under the legacy process.

"We are not going to get 3,000 public inquiries, with respect. In that case the legacy process would be unending and that is not what it proposed."

It was put to him it would not be possible to hold investigations or inquiries into terrorist-related deaths as there would not be as much documentation or evidence as security forces related deaths would have.

Sir Jeffrey said some of those "arguing loudest" for an inquiry into the death of the solicitor - while making clear he was not talking about the Finucane family - "are people who have information that could help families of the victims of terrorism to get justice and they are denying it by withholding information".

He was asked one final time if he he felt the family had been badly served by the justice system.

"I think the Finucane family have been offered the opportunity of an inquiry, under the inquiries act, they have declined that opportunity and I don't see and I am not convinced and do not see the argument that says this case should be given the special attention over and above any other case."

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