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Belfast court rejects call for public inquiry into murder of Pat Finucane

The call was made by the Finucane family.

Updated 19:45.

Pat Finucane inquiry Martin Finucane (centre), brother of murdered solicitor outside the High court in Belfast, to mark the 20th anniversary of the murder. Source: PA WIRE

MORE THAN 26 years ago, Pat Finucane was gunned down in the living room of his Belfast home as he and his family ate dinner.

His family have long campaigned for a full public inquiry and brought a judicial review against Prime Minister David Cameron’s decisions not to hold a statutory probe.

This morning, the High Court in Belfast backed Cameron’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into the loyalist murder.

Justice Stephens ruled that Cameron did not act unlawfully when he refused to hold one.

The action was taken by Pat’s wife Geraldine, with the help of Madden & Finucane Solicitors, the law firm that still bears his name.

In a statement this afternoon, Peter Madden, of Madden and Finucane solicitors said:

The judge referred to the state’s involvement in Pat’s murder, the collusion associated with it together with the obstruction of the investigations into the murder by John Stevens amounting to the most ‘conspicuously glaring and flagrant breach’ of Pat’s right to life.

“We will be considering carefully the complex 78 page judgment and re-dedicating ourselves to securing public accountability of those responsible for Pat’s murder and to achieve justice for Pat and his family,” he went on.

Speaking following the judgement, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, said:

The Irish Government’s position remains unchanged. We continue to believe that an independent public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, in line with the political commitments made by the British and Irish Governments at Weston Park in 2001, should be honoured.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith reiterated the call for an independent inquiry:

“It is completely unacceptable that successive British Governments have repeatedly blocked requests from the Irish State for an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Pat Finucane.

Loyalist paramilitaries used a sledgehammer to break into their house and opened fire, shooting him 14 times. Ever since that time there has been the persistent suspicion of security force collusion in the crime.

Collusion

His death still garners intense interest as part of the investigations into British state collusion with loyalist paramilitary forces.

A review found this to have taken place to some extent – enough to merit a public inquiry.

This was the conclusion of Judge Peter Cory in 2004, which both the Irish and British governments had agreed to act on. However, Westminster reneged on this commitment after new laws on public inquiries were passed allowing them to block such investigations.

An official report in 2011 by the UK government revealed a “shocking” level of this activity in Finucane’s death, but not “an overarching state conspiracy to murder”.

Prime Minister David Cameron apologised to the family, and said Pat Finucane could still be alive today had it not been for state involvement.

Vigil for murdered human rights lawyer Pat Finucane Members of Dublin Sinn Féin hold a vigil outside the GPO earlier this year. Source: Sinn Féin

However, this 2011 report wasn’t a fully-fledged public inquiry, as had been called for repeatedly in the past.

Geraldine Finucane said the 2011 report had been drawn up without any input from her family.

She accused the author, Sir Desmond de Silva, of suppressing the truth and attempting to throw all blame on dead individuals and disbanded organisations while exonerating ministers, serving officers and existing security agencies.

“Yet another British government has engineered the suppression of the truth behind the murder of my husband,” she told a press conference at the time.

The dirt has been swept under the carpet. This report is a whitewash.

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said: “The Finucane family deserve nothing less than the full truth of what happened and for the commitments made by the British Government to be honoured.”

Additional reporting by Cliódhna Russell. 

Read: Gerry Adams urges Taoiseach: put pressure on for full Pat Finucane inquiry >

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Nicky Ryan

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