So now we’ve had the publication of the latest report into the killing of Pat Finuance in 1989 courtsey of Rt Hon Desmond de Silva QC (full text here). The surprise that David Cameron articulated in the Commons today, much like with Saville, is merely the formal admission of what has long been accepted by most other people.
Pat’s widow Geraldine made a statement on behalf of the Finucane family today, which can be viewed here. The Finucanes are critical of the reports methodology and the convenience of some of its conclusions, where those who played keyed roles either happen to now be dead, or, where it is a corporate role, a defunct agency.
In her statement, Geraldine says:
“Yet another British government has engineered the suppression of the truth … The dirt has been been swept under the carpet without any serious attempt to lift the lid on what really happened to Pat and so many others.”
“This report is a sham, this report is a whitewash, this report is a confidence trick dressed up as independent scrutiny and given invisible clothes of reliability. But most of all, most hurtful and insulting of all, this report is not the truth”
The report itself is 500 or so pages, but a quick read through suggests that, even in its current form it throws up very challenging reports of security force direction of UDA/UFF and UVF targeting policies:
Nelson claimed to have received assistance from his handlers in relation to specific targeting operations. These include:
– That A/02 told him a UDA target, T/01, had moved address: “A/02 told me I’d be wasting my time, T/01 had moved to Downpatrick and was no longer living at Rutland St ”.
-That ‘the Boss’ (an unidentified member of the security forces) told him that “the UDA should think about undertaking an … bombing campaign on … situated targets” in Eire because this “would cause the Eire government to have a re-thing [sic] on their extradition policy”.
-That in relation to the targeting of T/26, A/02 told him “not to go near [T/26’s] house, he would get the photograph for me and I could give [L/49 the UFF Commander] the complete targeting pack”. The journal goes on to allege that A/02 subsequently traced an outline of a photograph of T/26’s house.
And an example of RUC and FRU input into the specifics of particular targets:
On 7 August 1987 Lyttle told Nelson that a policeman had said: “We are aware you are targeting Sean Keenan, however you have the wrong first name.” Lyttle then showed Nelson a photograph of Thomas Keenan and said: “This is the one we want.” On 6 April 1988 the FRU learned that L/41’s contact in the RUC had told him that the local RUC station reacted slowly to shootings of PIRA members, and on 2 March 1989 that detailed information on Keenan’s weekly meetings at a university had come from the RUC.
And in this excerpt where UDA West Belfast commander Tommy ‘Tucker’ Lyttle recounted how the idea to target Pat Finucane arose:
“Lyttle … confirmed that the original idea to murder Patrick Finucane came from two RUC detectives. While a prominent UDA gunman was being held in Castlereagh, an officer entered the interrogation room and said to his colleague: ‘Have you put it to him yet?’ They then suggested that the UDA shoot Finucane. Lyttle said that he was so astonished at this suggestion that he informed a regular contact in the RUC Special Branch: ‘I told him: ‘What the hell is going on in Castlereagh? Why is Finucane being pushed?’ The officer said that it would be ‘a bad blow for the Provos [the IRA] to have Finucane removed.’ Did that amount to approval that he should be shot? ‘Put it this way,’ said Lyttle, ‘He didn’t discourage the idea that he should be shot’
Whilst even Cameron made clear that Pat Finucane was targeted at the suggestion of the RUC, even at first glance, the level of interaction between security force agencies (like the Forces Research Unit) and the RUC and loyalist paramilitary groups appears so common place that encounters have a casual, informal, habitual air to them (like those described above).
The, as yet unexplained, Decision J before Motorman in 1972 put some form of suitable indemnification (against prosecution) in place for the army, and was more or less strictly adhered to ever afterwards. But it is not yet clear, from de Silva or the previous reports, where corporate decision-making to incorporate loyalist paramilitaries into operational activities of the security forces took place, when it began and when, if ever, it actually ended.