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Pat Finucane murder: Taoiseach notes President-elect Joe Biden's support as he pushes for international pressure on UK

The UK announced yesterday that no immediate inquiry would be held into the solicitor’s murder.

Geraldine Finucane (file photo)
Geraldine Finucane (file photo)
Image: PA

Updated Dec 1st 2020, 3:00 PM

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said the government will attempt to use international influence, including support from US President-elect Joe Biden, on the issue of the murder of Pat Finucane.

Yesterday, the British government announced that no immediate public inquiry would be held into the murder, despite calls from the Finucane family and the Irish government the UK to do so. 

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said he was not taking a public inquiry off the table, but said further examinations of the case by police and a police watchdog should conclude first.

The 39-year-old solicitor, who represented both republican and loyalist paramilitaries during the Troubles, was shot dead in his family home in north Belfast in February 1989 by the Ulster Defence Association.

The attack was later found to have been carried out in collusion with the state.

Speaking in the Dáil today, the Taoiseach said it was “deeply, deeply disappointing” that British government has made the decision it had, adding that dealing with “legacy issues” from The Troubles has been “stop-start”. 

He restated the Irish government’s position that a public inquiry was needed.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD said that British government is seeking to “put a dark cloak over collusion” and asked the Taoiseach whether he would bring international pressure to bear. 

Finucane’s son John, a solicitor and Sinn Fein MP for north Belfast, has said Biden had previously voiced support for his family’s campaign.

“When he was then Senator Biden as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he supported our calls for an inquiry,” he told the BBC.

“I appreciate he’s going to be in arguably the busiest role on the planet, so we aren’t we aren’t blind to that, but President-elect Biden has already shown a clear interest in Irish affairs, he has history in supporting our campaign.

 In the Dáil today, the Taoiseach said US support would be relied upon.  

“Collectively as an Oireachtas we can with one voice articulate to the British government again the view that a full public inquiry should be held,” Martin said.

We will continue to work at international and European level and also in terms of international opinion and indeed the support that we have had in the United States from people like Richie Neal and others and of course the engagement of the President-elect Joe Biden.

Speaking earlier today, Pat Finucane’s widow Geraldine has described the British government’s decision as “despicable”.

Geraldine also accused British authorities of “arrogance” for ignoring a finding by the UK’s Supreme Court that all previous examinations of the killing had not been compliant with human rights standards.

Geraldine Finucane and the couple’s three children have been campaigning for decades for a public inquiry to establish the extent of security force involvement.

Despite the British government’s announcement yesterday, Geraldine said the Finucane family would note the decision and continue fighting on behalf of her husband.

“I will never run out of road as long as there’s breath in my body,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. “Today is a new day. We shall take stock and move forward.”

The British and Irish governments agreed to hold a public inquiry in 2001 as part of the Weston Park agreement, but no such inquiry has ever been held.

Geraldine revealed that Lewis had told her personally that British authorities had nothing to investigate and that a review of the murder might not be necessary, something she described as “bizarre”.

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“I really can’t put into words what it seems like, but it doesn’t seem as though everybody’s singing off the same hymn sheet,” she said.

Geraldine also claimed that some information about the killing had yet to be uncovered, but added that it was difficult to continue fighting for this to happen through a public inquiry.

She hit out at the British government for continuing to avoid holding an inquiry, revealing that her family’s unsuccessful attempts to discover the circumstances of her husband’s death over many years had impacted them.

“All I can say is, I do not wish it on anyone. Everyone deserves to know the truth about what happened to their loved ones,” she said.

“And for the British government to keep avoiding that issue is despicable. And not only does it take a toll on me but it takes a toll on every single person who’s suffering and who is left in the dark about what went on.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said yesterday that the government will ask to meet with the Finucane family again “to hear their perspective and concerns”.

Previously, members of US congress were among those who urged the UK government to order an inquiry ahead of yesterday’s announcement.

“We will be seeking his fresh support on this matter and I think that we can enjoy a degree of confidence that given the bipartisan way in which we have received support from America this is something that may well enjoy his future support,” John Finucane said.

With reporting from Press Association.

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