Three decades after the assassination of Pat Finucane, his family have hit yet another brick wall with the British government once again refusing a public inquiry.
“Nothing short of insulting,” said the murdered solicitor’s son John who as an eight-year-old child hid under the kitchen table with his brother and sister as loyalist gunmen pumped bullets into his father.
Geraldine Finucane, who was hit in the ankle during the 1989 attack as the family ate Sunday dinner, described the government’s decision as a mockery of justice.
She branded as “farcical” the proposal from Secretary of State Brandon Lewis that instead of a public inquiry, the Finucanes should engage with the PSNI and the Police Ombudsman.
Her disbelief and anger are entirely understandable. Former Prime Minister David Cameron admitted there were “shocking levels of collusion” in her husband’s murder.
Almost all the key players were agents. Brian Nelson who supplied the intelligence, William Stobie who supplied the gun, Ken Barrett who was part of the murder team.
It is not those who pulled the trigger that campaigners say the British state is intent on protecting – it is those who pulled the strings.
It is inconceivable that there would not be a public inquiry if a lawyer was murdered in such circumstances in Britain.
A visibly angry Colum Eastwood told the House of Commons: "The British state murdered Pat Finucane and the Secretary of State failed miserably to do right by his family today.
“He's sending out a clear message to victims - if you want truth about what happened your loved ones, don't come looking for it here.”
DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson pointed out that many lives were lost during the Troubles and it was important to take a “holistic approach” and not to create a hierarchy of victims.
That sentiment is indisputable but one fact cannot be ignored. We expect paramilitaries to act outside the law and kill people. We do not expect the state to murder its own citizens. When it does, everything must be done to ensure truth and transparency.
Weeks before Finucane was shot dead, Home Office minister Douglas Hogg told the House of Commons that some solicitors in Northern Ireland were “unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA”. On a trip to Northern Ireland, he had been briefed by the then RUC Chief Constable, Sir John Hermon.
There have been consistent claims that the trail in the 1989 murder leads to the top of the political and security establishment. Every time the British government refuses a public inquiry fuels the speculation.
The family have vowed to fight on for justice. The case of Pat Finucane is not going away regardless of what Brandon Lewis said on Monday in the House of Commons.