Belfast Telegraph

Michael Finucane: Solicitors' lives were saved by Irish government intervention

Pat Finucane who was murdered by loyalists
Pat Finucane who was murdered by loyalists

By Ralph Riegel

The son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane has said the lives of other lawyers in Northern Ireland were saved by the Irish Government's intervention with their UK counterparts in 1989.

Secret files revealed officials in Dublin directly raised concerns with UK ministers over the potential threat posed to Northern Ireland solicitors by loyalist paramilitaries four days before the murder of the Belfast solicitor.

Confidential documents state the Irish government, in the wake Mr Finucane's murder, received multiple contacts indicating the killing was linked to collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and the security forces.

His son, Michael Finucane, said the "murky truth" behind the murder is still shocking, even after 30 years, and emphasises the need for a full public inquiry.

"The contents of the Irish State Papers reveal that the Irish Government was well aware of what was happening in Northern Ireland and made its feelings known on the matter at the time to the British authorities and the British Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher," he said.

"It is a matter for speculation now, thankfully, but it seems quite likely that the lives of other solicitors were saved as a result of Irish intervention."

Pat Finucane, who had represented numerous IRA defendants, was killed after a loyalist gang broke in to his Belfast home on February 12, 1989.

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Documents now show that four days earlier Tanaiste Brian Lenihan had directly raised with UK officials the fears of the Irish Government over the potential threat posed to Northern Ireland solicitors in the wake of remarks by Home Office Minister Douglas Hogg.

Mr Hogg had accused some Northern Ireland solicitors of being "unduly sympathetic" to the IRA.

One document, dated February 8, 1989, revealed Mr Lenihan had been carefully briefed about the issue.

"The Tanaiste might like to say in the tete-a-tete that he is concerned about the recent remarks of the Home Office Minister Douglas Hogg, in the House of Commons, that some Northern solicitors are unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA."

Ireland's Ambassador to the UK, Andrew O'Rourke, briefed the British Government on a statement to be issued by Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

The Taoiseach then personally sought assurances about the safety of solicitors.

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