Belfast Telegraph

Finucanes repeat call for public inquiry after ‘watershed’ Supreme Court ruling

Geraldine Finucane, widow of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, accompanied by her sons John (right) and Michael yesterday
Geraldine Finucane, widow of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, accompanied by her sons John (right) and Michael yesterday

By Sam Tobin

The family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane repeated their demands for a public inquiry after the UK's highest court ruled that an effective investigation into his death has not been carried out.

Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his family in north Belfast in February 1989 by loyalists in an attack found to have involved collusion.

It became one of the most notorious killings of the Troubles.

His widow Geraldine claimed the Government had unlawfully "reneged" on a promise to hold a public inquiry into the killing when former Prime Minister David Cameron instead ordered an independent review.

Yesterday the Supreme Court in London ruled that there has been no "effective investigation" into Mr Finucane's murder, and that previous inquiries had not complied with the Finucane family's human rights.

But the court also found that while Mrs Finucane had been given "an unequivocal undertaking" that there would be a public inquiry into the murder, the Government was justified in later deciding against holding one.

Afterwards, Mrs Finucane said: "This is a historic moment. I stand before you today outside the United Kingdom Supreme Court with one simple message: we won."

She added: "The British Government now knows that it cannot conceal the truth any longer. They have now been told this by the highest court in the land.

"It is time for the murder of Pat Finucane to be properly and publicly investigated in a public inquiry. Nothing less will suffice."

Mr Finucane's son John said: "Today is a very significant victory along the road of our campaign for truth and justice."

His brother Michael added: "This is no longer just a campaign of moral force. This is now a campaign that has the force of law.

"It is not an option for the Government to ignore our call for a public inquiry anymore. It should never have been an option, but it is one that they chose to push to its absolute limit. We have reached the limit."

Peter Madden of Madden & Finucane Solicitors said: "We say that the only possible process which can establish the full circumstances of Pat's murder is by the establishment of a full public judicial inquiry which possesses the full range of powers which the flawed processes such as the de Silva review clearly lacked."

Pressure for a public inquiry also came from political parties and human rights organisations yesterday.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland programme director, said: "Today's decision should bring to an end 30 years of shameful failure by the UK Government to deliver the public inquiry which they promised long ago.

"It is vital for public confidence in the rule of law that the Government now moves swiftly to establish an independent public inquiry following the ruling of the Supreme Court."

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald called the judgment a watershed moment in the campaign for truth and justice.

"The withholding of information on the part of the British Government and the disregard shown to victims in the courts is a feature of many other cases, also - this must stop," she said.

Ms McDonald's statement came after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the chamber during Leader's Questions in the Dail that he and his deputy Simon Coveney would urge Theresa May to do the "honourable thing" and hold an inquiry.

Mr Coveney, the Republic's Foreign Minister, said the Irish Government position remains "that an independent public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane should be established, in line with commitments made by British and Irish Governments at Weston Park, 2001."

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