Unless Iran is your patch, this is probably the most interesting Wikileaks outing to date.
The Security Service’s offer is revealed in a cable from June 2005, written by the US ambassador to Dublin, James C Kenny, which reported on a meeting between the head of MI5 and Mitchell Reiss, the US special envoy to Northern Ireland. In an account of the meeting between Reiss and Ahern, the ambassador wrote: “Reiss briefed him on his talks in London, including with the head of MI5 [Eliza Manningham-Buller], who committed to turning over all evidence her agency has to the inquiry, but she was adamant that the inquiry will proceed using the new legislation.”
Peter Madden, Finucane’s partner in the Belfast solicitors’ firm Madden and Finucane, said: “This might significantly change things. This is something new and unexpected. It will have to be considered by the Finucane family.” Madden said the family would proceed with care because MI5 said any inquiry would be carried out under new legislation, which allows for material to be withheld from the final report.
(Secretary of State Owen ) Paterson, who has met Finucane’s widow Geraldine, says he has an “open mind”. But in a letter to Mrs Finucane, he said that he would have to bear in mind a series of factors including “the current pressures on the UK Government’s finances”.
It is intriguing that whatever he put to her has not been rejected out of hand, whether or not it is a final position. The MI5 offer if true would appear to set a new precedent in MI5 disclosure and will heighten expectations of the Secretary of State’s statement on the Finucane case some time in the New Year.
In a separate leak the then taoiseach is quoted as having ” rock solid ” evidence that the SF leaders were still in the IRA at the tine of the Northern Bank robbery and therefore knew of it in advance.
The leaks reveal that then taoiseach Bertie Ahern was convinced Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness – whom he also believed to be IRA leaders – held critical peace process negotiations with him when they knew the IRA was planning the £26.5 million robbery.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London