Finucane family ought to think again, if current inquiries satisfy

It is hard to see how the deadlock over holding a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane can ever be broken. Amnesty International’s renewed call for one on the 20th anniversary of the Belfast solicitor’s murder in terms that well-qualified legal family would accept is I guess, unlikely to be heeded by the British Government. Ministers were privately dismayed by the decision of the retired Canadian judge Peter Cory to recommend PIs in all four “collusion “ cases on the northern side of the border. They had expected only one full inquiry to be recommended– Finucane – not the full house.

The deadlock is a conspiracy theorist’s dream. The government rushed in the Inquiries Act 2005 to allow ministers to limit the scope and cost of all PIs, not just NI ones – a move duly denounced by Lord Saville, as Amnesty reminded us .

“As a Judge, I must tell you that I would not be prepared to be appointed as a member of an inquiry that was subject to a provision of this kind.”

The stated reason for the Act was to avoid a repetition of the uncontrolled costs and length of Saville and the Heathrow Terminal 5 inquiry which lasted a mere four years.This is a far from implausible argument. But the justice for Finucane lobby and all nationalist parties north and south among many others inevitably smelt a rat.

On the other hand, the other Cory inquiries are proceeding. Indeed the Billy Wright inquiry was upgraded to one under the Inquiries Act. They will be acid tests of independence. If these are concluded fairly, how strong will remain the grounds for maintaining the Finucane family boycott? It seems to me that no minister would dare interfere with them and that the Finucanes are overbidding in what has become a power struggle with the British government. It may be that no existing inquiry however fair will get to the bottom of the collusion allegations in the absence of investigations as deep and thorough as Lord Stevens’s. In which case, if that’s what you believe, why persist in demanding an inquiry under different rules? Time may be running out anyway. Hard to see a inquiry being agreed under the devolution of J&P or the matter being dealt privately by an Eames/Bradley legacy commission. Incidentally, note that Shaun Woodward has announced that the Bill to transfer justice and policing powers to the Assembly will pass through Parliament in one of their notorious one day processes next Wednesday. A harbinger of a local agreement at last or just the obscure workings of the parliamentary timetable? The latter, I daresay.

  • cynic

    “As a Judge, I must tell you that I would not be prepared to be appointed as a member of an inquiry that was subject to a provision of this kind.”

    Saville may have said that but, as a Judge, he has presided over the most expensive enquiry in history. Yet again this week we have the exposure of the huge IT costs being run up even when its not sitting.

    I am less interested in Lord Seville’s views on this than with him actually getting on an producing something on Bloody Sunday. This was supposed to be an inquiry not a career for numerous members of the legal professions We await with interest what all those years of deepest legal consideration will bring forth.

    In terms of Finucane, the family have long rejected every proposal for an inquiry put forward to date. That was and remains their choice in terms of whether or not to co-operate. However, perhaps the time is now long past when we should hold one at all. As Eames Bradley infers, they do nothing but make lawyers rich

  • William

    I was speaking today to two officials [one Senior] of Amnesty International and I made the point, which they both agreed with, that Cory shouldn’t have had to recommend Inquiries in the case of the two Police Officers, Breen and Buchanan and Billy Wright. My view is that as the two RUC Officers were killed whilst coming from a meeting with Senior Garda Officers, so obviously there was some collusion by a Garda Officer in giving information to the IRA, whilst Wright was killed inside a Prison, a sure reason, irrespective of who the victim was, for setting up an Inquiry.

    Obviously Cory merely recommended these two inquiries as ‘make weights’ for his recommending Inquiries into the deaths of Nelson and Finucane. That fact proves there has been a hierachy of victims…inquiries into ‘Bloody Sunday’, Nelson and Finucane but the major victims of terrorism, the Protestant community have been totally ignored. Perhaps we should have an Inquiry into the extent of collusion by current Government Ministers in the death of Mrs. Jean McConville, Edgar Graham, the Le Mon Hotel, Claudy and a number of other massacres, which Gerry, Martin and a well-known bearded Party Leader would be able to provide substantial evidence to?

  • Dewi

    “But the justice for Finucane lobby and all nationalist parties north and south among many others inevitably smelt a rat”

    Brian – try and least to disguise your prejudice through modifying your language.

  • Currently there is a member of the legal community, whose case has been delayed due to a strike by lawyers, on trial for ‘assisting terrorism’.. Whilst consulting a client, the interview was bugged and the charges come from that ‘questionable’ act of the Police in the Antrim Interview suite.

    I wonder did the late Mr. Finucane ever help his terrorist clients or carry information out to their terror masters? Sean O’Callaghan certainly thought so….

    As to the Finucane Family…..having Martin McGuinness [the former IRA Godfather in Londonderry’ in their ridiculous candle light line up last night won’t win many new recruits to their campaign…..I wonder were Pat’s on the run IRA brothers present?

  • LURIG

    The major victims of terror ‘the Protestant community’ ???. I don’t think so, statistically your average ordinary Protestant was the LEAST likely to have been killed during the Troubles. The MAJOR victims group were TOTALLY innocent Catholics shot in the back and in the dark by British Government controlled Unionist death squads. This was a policy formulated at British cabinet level and resulted in atrocities like McGurks Bar, Bloody Sunday, Miami Showband, Loughinisland, Greysteele, Ballymurphy & New Lodge murders, Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson and the countless other British State killings. One only has to look at the lengths the British Establishment have gone to cover up it’s atrocities and protect agents like Brian Nelson. That is why the British have introduced Public Immunity Certificates and The Inquiries Bill. They want to cover up State sanctioned murder and protect the government killers. The British media are compliant in this as they are stuffed full of MI5 agents and The Old Public Schoolboy network as well. That is why Britains atrocities have been so successfully hidden from the British public. Britain and it’s Unionist puppet killer gangs should be in the dock at The Hague for their War Crimes in Ireland.

  • Harry Flashman

    I am pretty sure that some officials of the British state have dirty hands when it comes to some of the murkier things that went on during out thirty year hatefest but I would suggest LURIG that your allegation that the McGurk’s bar, Loughinisland or Greysteel atrocities were organised at a British government cabinet level is so absurd as to beggar the definition of hyperbole.

  • LURIG

    Harry. Who, at official level, ever gets their hands dirty? Certainly the British cabinet didn’t know the ins and outs of the individual murderous deeds but a nod and a wink are all that is needed. Indeed in many cases it was more than that. The British Home Office Minister Douglas Hogg stood up in the British House of Commons, in the weeks preceeding Pat Finucane’s death AND stated “undoubtedly there are those solicitors (in NI) who are sympathetic to paramilitaries”. A few weeks later Pat was murdered and Seamus Mallon subsequently castigated Hogg for his words. Britain’s OFFICIAL murder policy in Ireland went RIGHT to the top of the British cabinet and that is becoming more clear as the years pass.

  • Harry Flashman

    Hogg was stating a fact. Certain solicitors were indeed well connected to paramilitary organisations, off the top of my head I can think of three or four, as indeed were several accountants and for that matter building contractors and taxi companies and pub landlords and “security” companies. To pretend that there were no links between paramilitaries and certain businesses and professional organisations is as absurd as to pretend that certain elements of the British security forces didn’t also have such links.

    Hogg’s statement therefore had no real link with Finucane’s murder other than in timing (unless you believe his statement was some sort of coded signal).

  • William

    Harry….I agree with you totally….Lurig has fallen hook, line and sinker for the propaganda that has become the hallmark of Sinn Fein / IRA…he conveniently forgets all the Protestant eldest sons of the farming families killed along the Fermanagh border. One has only to read ‘Lost Lives’ to see who killed the greater number in the 30+ years duof the terrorist campaign.

    Finucane’s murder, like all the others, cannot be defended in any way but he was a member of a well-known IRA family [I knew one of his Brothers well] and if Lurig wishes to refresh his memory, he should go to and read a few home truths about the late Pat:

    http://victims.org.uk/s08zhk/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=181

  • Dec

    One has only to read ‘Lost Lives’ to see who killed the greater number in the 30+ years duof the terrorist campaign.

    William

    Clearly statistical analysis isn’t your strongpoint. Whilst Republican’s may have been responsible for most of the deaths in the conflict, Catholics formed the majority of victims. Not that religion really matters in retrospect. Therfore your view that Protestants were the ‘major victims’ isn’t supported by the facts. Unless of course you take the view that a Protestant is more important than a Catholic…

    was speaking today to two officials [one Senior] of Amnesty International and I made the point, which they both agreed with…

    The bullshitometer on my desk has just imploded.

  • fin

    william, you must be the best connected individual in the UK and Ireland, you appear to know the president of Ireland, senior members of Amnesty,the Finucane family, and possibly God………..

  • Nelligan Trondheim

    Maybe I’m getting it wrong but I seem to recall something about a man and ball rule on slugger?

    Perhaps it only operates should the slugger editorial line be breached?

  • lorraine

    , if that’s what you believe, why persist in demanding an inquiry …………..

    for an acknowledgement of truth denied.

  • Grassy Noel

    Sean O’Callaghan certainly thought so….

    Sean O C was once asked by m’learned friends if there was anyone he’d met over the years that he hadn’t lied to.

    He replied, “No”.

    Even when he got tied up in Ruth Dudley Edwards house by those chaps he invited back for a drink, his explanation of how this came about was deemed simply not worthy of belief.

    You say the Finucanes do themselves no favours by including Martin McGuinness in their vigil, I say you do your own credibility no favours at all by calling on O’Callaghan to verify anything.

  • Harry Flashman

    I have no idea whether Pat Finucane was a prominent member of the IRA or not, I have my personal opinions but in the absence of hard evidence my personal opinions and two quid fifty will get me a vanilla frappuccino extra grande at Starbucks.

    However it seems to me that there is something of a dichotomy here. There are posters who are prepared to believe that senior British government ministers personally planned his murder along with other atrocities but that it is somehow impossible for them to believe that a member of a well known Republican family with intimate IRA connections might himself have actually been a member of the IRA. They cannot bring themselves to believe that members of the legal profession as well as senior bank officials, businessmen and even some clergymen might well have been involved in IRA activities.

    They seem to have the rather naive, or is it disingenuous, belief that in the dirty war between the Brits and the Provos, only the Brits were fighting dirty.

    It does stretch credulity somewhat.

  • This thread is so superficial in analysis, premature in nature, and narrow in scope that it buggers belief.

    Just take the most simple one, the murder of Billy Wright. How is everyone going to be satisfied with the result, even if essentially honest and fair, when it shows that he was sacrificed by the waring parties so it could be brought to a halt.

    I still don’t think that his father and family will find any solace in this finding.

    The other ones Cory recommended will only have more problematic results even if carried out in a similar manner.

    And what about all those murders which shall get no such hearings – those of Seamus Ludlow, Francisco Notarantonio, Francis Bradley, Seamus McElwaine, the three Scottish Fusiliers, Senator Paddy Wilson, the one in the Republic, William Graham, Brian Robinson, William Hanna, Frederick Jackson, James Taylor, Ken Stronge, Patrick McKenna, Loughlin Maginn, etc., ad nauseam.

    Should just forget about the whole idea. It’s daft.

  • William

    DECO STATES: william, you must be the best connected individual in the UK and Ireland, you appear to know the president of Ireland, senior members of Amnesty,the Finucane family.

    Well, let me explain Dec….I knew Mary, when she was Head of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s and I was a student studying for the Bar; I spoke to one of the Amnesty Belfast office Project workers at a function [Fiona] and to Steve Ballinger of the London office, the same day. They both agreed that the Breen/Buchanan and Wright deaths warranted inquiries as of right, due to the former being killed on an International Land border, coming home from an RUC / Gardai Senior Officers meeting and the latter whilst in prison. I know Martin Finuacane, as he was for a considerable time a resident of the North-West and I got to know him well when we were abroad together on a trip around 11 years ago. So, there you are Dec….you’re the BULLSHITTER, not me!

  • Ulsters not Irish

    When did Pat Finucane become known as a human rights solicitor?

  • Jimmy Sands

    I’ll believe most things about the RA but O’Callaghan is plainly not a reliable source for anything and it is idle to pretend otherwise. I’ve no idea whether he was a member, I’m still less clear what in his case membership would have involved. He was obviously sympathetic, but that is in itself not a crime, and although it is possible that he abused his position to assist, I have not seen a specific allegation formulated.

    Even if one ignores conspiracy theories and contested evidence, even what police admitted to Cory was shocking to anyone who values the rule of law. Police at the very least adopted a policy of permitting murders of which they had advance knowledge to take place with no attempt (save iirc in one case) to intervene or even alert the intended victim. This much is not even in dispute. In this context it is hardly fanciful to suspect that Finucane’s murder may have followed this pattern at the very least. What I find hard to understand is why so many seem to take the view that only one section of the community should be concerned at what took place. It should concern everybody.

  • I’m an Ulsterman, not an Orishman.

    What’s so special about Pat Finnucane? have lawyers more rights than innocent victims?

  • glencoppagagh

    “When did Pat Finucane become known as a human rights solicitor?”
    When propagandists decided that it would be a good wheeze to generate sympathy. Implicit comparison with the kind of lawyer, familiar from any number of films, who defends someone from an oppressive state at some risk to himself AND FOR NO MATERIAL GAIN. Never let it me mentioned that Finucane was able to present his no doubt sizeable bill for payment by his assumed oppressors at the end of the month.
    One thing we can say with confidence about Finucane was that the troubles afforded him a more lucrative practice than scouring west Belfast for pavement trippers which would probably have been his lot otherwise.

  • NCM

    Pat Finucane was so dangerous to the British state and the British war effort in NI precisely because he used the law as his weapon, not a gun, and because he was very, very good at what he did. I think it is obvious why the Brits, and their surrogates, could not allow him to continue on. Killing him was one of the more coldly rational decisions of the war, it would seem.

    ***

    Glencoppagagh, I take it you work for free? No? Then why would you expect a lawyer to work for free on a daily basis? Your criticism makes no sense. You watch too many movies.

  • Glencoppagagh

    NCM
    No I don’t. I’m arguing that Finucane was and is falsely presented in the same light as ‘human rights attorneys’, fictional or otherwise, who are portrayed on screen as defending pro bono in dangerous circumstamces. One example if I reemmber correctly is the Steve Biko film whatever it was called. The lawyer was played by Marlon Brando (?).
    I doubt if Finucane ever did very much of that and I doubt if many other lawyers have had their snouts deeper in the legal aid trough (at least they name and shame them now)
    Finucane was just a legal aid junkie who had the good fortune to be around when the troubles were on.

  • Jimmy Sands

    In the circumstances, it’s a fairly unusual use of the phrase “good fortune”.

  • NCM

    Glencoppagagh, any lawyer who would go into legal aid work out of greed would be a grade-A idiot, to put it mildly.

    In real life, lawyers — even progressive ones — can’t just work pro bono on every case, because they would have to live in cardboard boxes on the street if they didn’t charge for their services.

    And there is nothing wrong with charging for work, especially work well done.

    Pat Finucane defended his clients expertly and that is why, it is obvious, the folks that killed him did so.

  • fin

    I spoke to one of the Amnesty Belfast office Project workers at a function [Fiona] and to Steve Ballinger of the London office, the same day….

    William you’ve named two press officers……..I don’t believe they are qualified (or permitted)to comment on issues such as this

  • glencoppagagh

    NCM
    I’m not arguing that Finucane would not have been successful in other legal work but there wasn’t much of it around at the time.
    The point I’m trying to make is that like a very large number of solicitors he relied almost entirely on work that was remunerated by legal aid. He happened to specialise in cases that were almost certainly more lucrative but there is no evidence that he ever made any material sacrifice to defend his clients. Hence the distinction between him and celebrated human rights lawyers in other places such as South Africa or Latin America.
    Anyway, as someone pointed out on a previous thread relating to Finucane, are not all criminal lawyers “human rights lawyers” almost by definition?
    Jimmy
    Live off the sword, die by the sword?

  • Jimmy Sands

    Of course all lawyers are human rights lawyers. He who harms one offends against Heaven.

  • cynic

    “any lawyer who would go into legal aid work out of greed would be a grade-A idiot, to put it mildly. ”

    “there is nothing wrong with charging for work, especially work well done”

    On that basis the Bloody Sunday report will be an absolute masterpiece

  • NCM

    Glencoppagagh, Pat Finucane sacrificed a whole helluva lot more than money in defending the clients he did.

  • LURIG

    Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson were two Catholic solicitors who used the law to expose and highlight Britain’s Human Rights abuses in the North. Of course they defended Republicans, why should they not have done? If memory serves me I think Pat defended a few Loyalists in his time too. From the various books and few documentaries I have seen the UDA originally didn’t target Finucane, they have gone on record as saying they always considered the legal community off limits. However the British agents who who were largely directing their strategy by the late 80’s kept pushing Finucane’s name to them as a Republican. Britain used their loyalist satellite death squads to eliminate a man who was exposing Britain time and time again in the Courts. Likewise Rosemary Nelson was taken out for the same reasons and her stout defence of the Garvaghy Road people. If there is any justice left in the world those who gave the orders OR who knew about these murders will be standing in the dock at The Hague. This is something that will not go away despite Britain’s efforts to cover up it’s State assassination policies. The truth will out; it eventually does.

  • You are quite on the right track, LURIG.

    The only problem is that you don’t go far enough.

    Who were the leading Republicans who Finucane defended, and Nelson continued the process when it came to the defence of the Garvaghy Road people?

    You don’t have to be a very skilled investigator to determine who they were.

    Then the question is why would the Brits seek the murder of their legal representatives rather than the Republicans themselves.

    The answer seems to be that their murders were bound to create less blowback than those of their solicitors who had telling information about them, and some standing to spread it if they were killed by loyalist death squads for the convenience of the British intelligence services.

  • Sorry, it was early in the morning when I posted the above, so the last paragraph should read “more” rather than “less” regarding the murders of the solicitors’ leading Republican clients.