Moving the goalposts…

JUSTICE Peter Cory tells Chris Thornton why he’s upset with the handling of Pat Finucane’s murder inquiry – and how a secret agent’s drugs hunting past ended up delaying the probe into Rosemary Nelson’s deatBut it’s not just republicans who should be concerned about the powers of official cover-up invested in the recent Inquiries Act – the legislation is to be used in the Billy Wright case (thus actually implying that the State has something to hide).

It is also highly likely to be invoked if unionist justice campaigner Raymond McCord ever succeeds in getting a public inquiry into the murder of up to 30 people – including his son – by the UVF since its ceasefire.

Suspected UVF killers – such as Mark Haddock, as named in the Dail – are believed to also be police agents. McCord has often fought a lonely battle, but at last seems to be getting support from reticent unionist politicians, apparently flummoxed by the fact that ‘their’ security force agents have been murdering their (Catholic and Protestant) constituents with impunity for years.

The forthcoming report by the Police Ombudsman could prove revealing – but will it lead to an open and fair inquiry? I doubt it.

Amnesty International yesterday warned that the Inquiries Act 2005 amounts to “an attack against the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary” by giving control of investigations to ministers. The Amnesty report added: “Given that the Act does not provide the foundation for effective, independent, impartial or thorough public judicial inquiries into allegations of serious human rights violations, Amnesty International has opposed the government’s stated intention to hold an inquiry into the murder in Northern Ireland of Patrick Finucane.”

Perhaps it will also offer its support to Mr McCord after the Ombudsman’s report is published.