#Finucane: this report is a sham, this report is a whitewash

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.

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  • A clear absence in the report, presumably because it wasn’t specified in the terms of reference, are any recommendations. A question that the Government must answer is what are they now going to do about uncovering and prosecuting those agents of the State who acted in or covered up these shameful murders.

  • tacapall

    A question that the Government must answer is what are they now going to do about uncovering and prosecuting those agents of the State who acted in or covered up these shameful murders.

    Joe if we cannot get convictions or even arrests for the actions of these RUC officers what can Irish people expect from the British controlled PSNI in relation to the state directed murder of Patrick Finucane.


    9. Intelligence reports and other documents within the RUC and the PSNI, most of which were rated as ‘reliable and probably true’, linked informants, and in particular one man who was a police informant (referred to in this report as Informant 1) to the following ten murders:

    • Mr Peter McTasney who died on 24 February 1991;
    • Ms Sharon McKenna who died on 17 January 1993;
    • Mr Sean McParland who was attacked on 17 February 1994, and died on 25 February 1994;
    • Mr Gary Convie who died on 17 May 1994;
    • Mr Eamon Fox who died on 17 May 1994, in the same attack as Mr Gary Convie;
    • Mr Gerald Brady who died on 17 June 1994;
    • Mr Thomas Sheppard who died on 21 March 1996;
    • Mr John Harbinson who died on 18 May 1997;
    • Mr Raymond McCord Junior who died on 09 November 1997
    • Mr Thomas English who died on 31 October 2000.

    The Police Ombudsman’s investigators also identified less significant police intelligence implicating Informant 1 in 5 other murders. For some of these murders, there is generally only one piece of intelligence, which police have not rated as reliable.

    Intelligence was also found linking police informants, and in particular Informant 1, to ten attempted murders between 1989 and 2002.

  • Neil

    Conveniently enough Joe, everyone who’s been fingered here is now dead.

  • The only “shocking” thing is that people say they are shocked.
    Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism are pretty nasty things and as the title of Mark Urbans book “Big Boys Rules” suggests, it was more nasty than most “nice” people realise.
    The dogs in the street knew what happened……as in Bloody Sunday…..or McGurks……or Claudy.
    I was I suppose one of those dogs in the street in Ballymurphy 1971…..and maybe the lesson is that Saville, Stephens, Widgery, da Silva do not conduct Inquiries. Lets just leave it to the dogs in the street.

    Thus we will be spared….Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, Bloody Sunday, Finucane type moments where Prime Ministers tell the House of Commons that they are “shocked”, “unreservedly apologise”, “does not detract from the good work….” we have heard it all before and we will hear it all again “whitewash” from Finucanes “what about” from unionists.
    And the bottom line is that nobody will ever be charged or put on trial. Likewise with cases that IRA were involved in.
    We talk about giving voice to victims which is pious nonsense.
    The victims always had voices and screaming at the top of their voices for four decades.
    What we really need is to give EARS to the people who chose not to listen for four decades.
    The shame is theirs.

  • The thing is that, similar to the paedophile priests, if the guilty are not named then the innocent are thrown into suspicion which is grossly unfair.

  • liammctam

    Why did you lump Claudy in with those other atrocities?

  • liamro

    I read the summary of this report today and felt physically sick.

    In the year of Finucane’s killing I spent and evening with the FRU. Lets just say it was not the most enjoyable of experiences and twenty three years on I still suffer PTSD and epilepsy as a result.

    There must be others like myself within our community who suffered because of the low quality intelligence gathering of
    these thugs, the so called security forces supposedly acting on our behalf.

    What proof if any do we have that things have changed in the intervening years?

  • John Ó Néill

    Check out Chapter 15 (sections 19 and 20):

    The note also provided an explanation as to how the public circulation of details of PIRA players would assist the intelligence agencies’ wider strategy. It included the comment that: “It has been agreed that disruption is the alternative as recruitment of PIRA players has proved impossible, and this would provide an ideal opportunity for unnerving the unrecruitable.”

    15.20 The note thus implies that propaganda against specific PIRA figures was a tactic that could be used against individuals who were either assessed to be unrecruitable as agents or who had been approached and had refused to become agents.

    Inability to recruit ‘PIRA players’ doesn’t seem to fit with a whole industry of Troubles literature (including a substantial portion of its journalistic writings) that the IRA was riddled with informers up to its highest levels.

  • Kevsterino

    The more I read of this document, to more the overall tone annoys me and the more I’m convinced HMG refuse an open hearing on this in order to preserve a myth of high-level innocence. The reading continues…

  • tacapall

    “What proof if any do we have that things have changed in the intervening years”

    Absolutely none other than the word of a British Prime Minister who backtracked on a promise given to the world that they would hold a public inquiry into his death if Judge Peter Cory recommended it, which he did. Also we have the word of the now Chief Constable of the renamed RUC, the PSNI, Matt Baggott who can with a straight face apologise and give out signals that he’s prepared to look again at whether others can be charged, but are these not the same people who after two years have still not questioned, arrested or charged anyone in relation to the findings of the Saville report that 14 people were murdered by the British army. There is also evidence that RUC officers provided a weapon to loyalist paramilitaries that was later used in the murder of seven innocent people, evidence that RUC officers allowed certain loyalists to murder at will and aided in their evading justice.

    There’s an MI15 headquarters newly built in Hollywood, does that give you an indication that they have changed their ways or that somehow this could not happen again or that people will be accountable if they break the law during their duty for the British government.

  • ayeYerMa

    What’s a “sham” is the media coverage as if this is some completely normal innocent family.

  • michael-mcivor

    Where was the rule of law today-

    The RUC members who wanted Pat Finucane shot still have there names kept secret by the torys-

    The FRU members who also made sure that Pat Finucane was shot had their names kept secret by the torys-

    A crime is a crime is a tory-

  • Submariner

    “ayeYerMa (profile) 12 December 2012 at 8:34 pm
    What’s a “sham” is the media coverage as if this is some completely normal innocent family.”

    Yet another shameful comment. Just exactly what are the wife and children of Pat Finucane guilty of? We are all ears.

  • Kev,

    I’m impressed at your fortitude. I gave up reading after 50 pages or so. I found it too depressing. We simply will never find out how high the Government terrorism went.

  • Submariner

    ” We simply will never find out how high the Government terrorism went.”

    The cabinet table perhaps?

  • John Ó Néill

    Lads – read Chapter 15: Security Service propaganda initiatives.

    It would fit neatly into War and Words (the NI Media Reader).

  • I don’t think the Cabinet table since that would be revealed eventually under the 30 year rule. But, I guess, Cabinet Ministers could be guilty. We won’t ever know.

  • Ruarai

    One thing this report has revealed:

    Collusion is the wrong word.

    BBC: Sir Desmond found that “in 1985 the security service assessed that 85% of the UDA’s ‘intelligence’ originated from sources within the security forces”.

    Sorry, but when 85% of the intel is state supplied then the UDA wasn’t colluding with the state – the UDA was an arm of the state.

    True, that same state may have cared little for scapegoating its own trigger men but when an organization is state directed to that extent then it’s an arm of the state.

    “Collusion” suggests something less than what actually happened during the period in question.

  • Donal Davoren

    UDA attacks frustrated by the security forces

    Page 168 onwards gives details of how the security forces with the assistance of Nelson stopped assassination attempts twice in May 1978 on Gerry Adams.

    7.253 In his journal, Nelson suggested that in his subsequent discussions with the FRU:

    “It was told to me, by my Handlers, that the assassination of Adams, had it gone ahead, would have been totally counterproductive particularly considering the delicate balance of power within Sinn Fein.”

    7.254 It is clear that the security forces did take steps to frustrate the planned UDA attack on Adams, albeit it must be said that the circumstances in which the UDA aborted the plan are somewhat unclear. The Adams case was potentially an early example of Nelson’s value and it was, in fact, cited by A/05 during his evidence in mitigation at Nelson’s trial in 1992.

  • Donal Davoren

    The above should be ‘assassination attempts twice in May 1987

  • latcheeco

    “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here” Captain Renault- Casablanca

  • Desmond Trellace

    In a state genuinely under the rule of law persons running such a systematic, long-term campaign of murder would be running the risk over a long period of time of being caught, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

    It would therefore seem inconceivable that the uppermost echelons of government were not involved.

  • Meanwhile, over at The Hague, a Bosnian Serb General today was sentenced to life in prison for war crimes.

  • BluesJazz

    People like Brigadiers Gordon Kerr and Frank Kitson saved this society from civil war. If they had to play fast and loose with the law to do that fair play to them. Sometimes it takes a malign act to facilitate that for the greater good. They are the unsung heroes of the ‘peace process’.
    Finucane was a ‘player’. Big boys rules.

    As for him being a ‘human rights’ lawyer, my arse.

  • OK, I get it. Then it was acceptable for Stalin to murder millions of his opponents, real or imaginary, since it likely saved his country from a second civil war.

  • John Ó Néill

    Ruairí – my only problem is that collusion isn’t really clearly defined (various reports like Cory, Stevens etc all give variations) and there is no test for prosecution for it. It’s a convenient theme to get into, but is effectively a cul de sac, other than where there is a corporate admission that two organisation worked together. If that is the case, then the British government is en route to The Hague. If the state, as a corporate body, is not in the dock, then it is the individual’s whose actions are described that come under the microscope.

    The individuals then are central to the out working of De Silva: in a review of the documentary record for the various crimes outlined here, De Silva describes events that fall under the general headings of conspiracy to murder, possession of weapons, possession of intelligence, attempted murder, murder etc. If various actions, e.g. passing security force documents to individuals who are conspiring to murder the persons detailed in the document, which can be identified with individual members of the security forces, then they should either be charged with conspiracy to murder or the state takes on the responsibility for their actions and admits to a corporate policy of political violence against its opponents within the state (which is the route to The Hague).

    As I pointed out in the original post – Decision J (suitable indemnification of soldiers from prosecution) from July 1972 emerged from a high level meeting whose other decisions were all implemented (the negligible level of prosecution or even investigation of fatalities involving soldiers seems to prove that this decision was also implemented even if not publicly declared). Those at that meeting bear responsibility for that policy. Somewhere, at policy level, the relationship with the UDA, UVF etc must have been discussed and those documents need to be put in the public domain. Otherwise the individuals who committed crimes need to be prosecuted, The state cannot have it both ways.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Mister Joe

    ‘I don’t think the Cabinet table since that would be revealed eventually under the 30 year rule. But, I guess, Cabinet Ministers could be guilty. We won’t ever know.’

    Nah, they can classify that stuff for up to a hundred years, if they deem it sufficiently sensitive.

    But it’s not true to say we won’t ever know. We DO know. We may not ever get the guilty to admit their guilt, and the Finucane family surely know that they will never see the conspirators behind bars, but make no mistake, the truth is well known.

  • BluesJazz

    Mister Joe
    Was it acceptable for the USA to extra-judicially kill Osamba Bin Laden? (Who had never been convicted of any crime).

    Was the (illegal) assassination of Reinhardt Heydrich acceptable to you?

    Get real.

    Sometimes the state has to get dirty. I suggest Martin Dillon’s book. ‘The Dirty War’ . Even in WW2 the allies hands were not clean.

  • SK

    “Sometimes the state has to get dirty.”


    Much like their respect for democracy, that unionist abhorrence of murder seems to take a back seat whenever the going gets tough for them.

    When the law breakers are the law makers, then there is no law. It is becoming increasingly evident that the British state is down there gutter with the rest of them.

  • BluesJazz,

    The people who killed those two didn’t deny it and try to cover up their involvement.

  • SK

    Next time some sanctimonious unionist opens up with a lecture about despicable the Irish government was for breathing life into the Provos way back when, we need only remind them of their new favourite maxim:

    Sometimes the state has to get dirty.

  • Ulidian


    Feel free too – I for one wouldn’t have expected anything else of them.

  • Ulidian

    Apologies – that should obviously read “feel free to”.

  • SK

    Nor do you have a right to expect a thing. The phrase ‘sneaking regard’ immediately springs to mind when one observes the unionist response this evening.

  • BluesJazz

    All governments have “flexibility” when confronted with a terrorist threat. The USA and Israel are not the only connivers. Russia is very good at it. As for the French, I recommend ‘Battle of Algiers’ as a classic film.

  • latcheeco

    So you think the British govt has flexibilty to ignore the law and use assasins to shoot lawyers they don’t approve of in the United Kingdom? .

  • SK

    They killed a solicitor because he was good at being a solicitor. If nothing else it puts paid to this myth that the British State was merely some middleman trying to keep the warring factions apart.

    Nicer uniforms, that’s about the only thing that sets them apart from the terrorists.

  • BluesJazz

    No, David Cameron explicitly stated that people should conform to the law.
    As the USA does.
    As Israel does.

    Rogue agents operate outside the law.
    ‘Flexibility’ is a fluid state. Sometimes people interpret this fluidity in a manner that could be interpreted as unlawful. As in the Bin Laden case and others.

  • Breaking news.

    Loyalists in Northern Ireland announce a new legal concept being hailed by legal experts around the world as a breakthrough advance in jurisprudence – flexible law.

  • Rory Carr

    The comment from Blues Jazz, “…Karma, Geraldine”, is despicably offensive, not least in its assumption of intimacy with Pat Finucane’s widow,

    It is in the nature of insults that more appropriately attract a horse-whipping than a token carding.

  • pauluk

    Just wondering, when will we be getting an investigation into the role of current Sinn Fein MP’s, MLA’s and councillors when they were active members of the IRA?

  • Barnshee

    Servants of the state commit despicable acts

    1 Who authorised these acts?
    2 Whose judgement is suspect?

    Name the authors of 1 and 2 above

  • Morpheus

    Barnshee, you are ‘kicking on a closed door’ as a wise man once said. It is now widely accepted that considerable state collusion took place over the years just as there was considerable Republican and considerable Loyalist violence. None of us can defend the indefensible.

  • Barnshee

    “None of us can defend the indefensible.”

    Though surely we can “name and shame”? — “widely accepted” is no use

    Surely there is a record of the hierarchy of who was “in charge” of any section,at any point in time. ?

    Surely any bureaucracy will have records of the who what when where?

  • Morpheus

    The records will be there alright but if the issues are pushed then documentation will suddenly disappear. It has been shown in case after case that important evidence has a habit of disappearing.

  • sonofstrongbow

    The “evidence” will “disappear”? Yet it is presently retained and safe? Who holds the key? Who will instigate operation ‘Burn, Burn, Burn!’?

    So obviously it goes without saying that all ex-RUC are corrupt. However for operation ‘Burn, Burn, Burn!’ to be successful the PSNI, HET, PONI, DPP, PPS must all also be in on it too.

    And while we’re at it let’s have a definition of ‘state collusion’. Given that it was all over the shop it must be easy to pin down.

  • Morpheus

    Where does it say “…it goes without saying that all ex-RUC are corrupt”? It doesn’t say it because I don’t believe it but there seems to be a select few on here who stick their fingers in their eyes and start going ‘La La La, I’m not listening” when it comes to the demonstrable reality of State collusion.

    Here are some videos from a BBC Panorama investigation – watch them then come back and comment:


    So much talk about rewriting history – don’t worry this stuff was part of our collective history as well and it won’t be forgotten either.

  • sonofstrongbow

    You are right on the money with regards to some singing ‘la, la, la’. I hope you have a good singing voice.

    I know of NO ONE who denies that the security services and the police operated agents. It is (Shock Horror) standard operating procedure right across the world. Also (Shock Horror II) the agents are most often members of the criminal gangs being targeted. You’ll no doubt be surprised to learn that criminals often only share their criminal thoughts with those they believe they can trust and avoid such chats with the man on the street.

    On the TV clips; why no names of police or soldiers who committed crimes yet to be prosecuted? If the Panorama team have ‘investigated’ surely they must have the evidence? Why not name and shame and force the hand of the prosecuting authorities? It is after all the duty of every citizen to assist the police.

    In the Nelson case the best they can come up with is that Brigadier Kerr “recruited” Nelson. Agent recruitment is not a crime.

    On Nelson again, why the charade of “setting him up as a minicab driver to spy on republicans”? Why did they not just give him the intel? Do you believe that the security services did not know the identities of at least most of the nationalist terrorists?

    Here’s another possible theory. Perhaps the security services were dismayed at the number of sectarian murders being committed by loyalist terrorists. Perhaps they embarked on a high risk strategy that was built on the premise that if they placed an agent in the terrorist’s ‘intelligence’ cell they could steer them away from innocents. Perhaps they also believed that the nationalist terrorists being targeted would be surveillance aware and would prove difficult to attack and the loyalists would spend their time chasing their own tails.

    In that the security services were manifestly unsuccessful as loyalists continued to target innocent Catholics. Their target list also suggests that the ‘collusion’ was not providing much in the way of information either.

    I’ve read the quote that “at least 85% of loyalist intelligence came from the security forces”. At least 85% of the eggs in my fridge are fresh. I’ve one egg in the fridge.

    You may argue that the security services knew the targets before the attacks and are therefore also culpable in the crimes. However as the book ‘Fifty Dead Men Walking’ suggests many disruption operations by the security forces were successful. It may be realistic to assume that a 100% success rate in the clandestine world is impossible to achieve.

    I chose to believe that the vast majority of those working in the security forces were honestly trying to do their best to uphold the law. The terrorist campaigns waged by loyalist and nationalist terrorists made it a very difficult job where many difficult decisions had to be made. I come to that conclusion not because I’m a unionist and they are on ‘my side’. I do so from the facts as I have considered them. You come to a different conclusion. So be it that is your prerogative.

    The security services and the police did not have the luxury to sit back and fret or pontificate about the situation. Doing nothing was not an option. They had to do something.

    Did they make mistakes? Most assuredly yes. Did some cross the line? Probably yes; and if they did they should be prosecuted where there is evidence to support charges.

    I have no doubt that TV ‘investigators’ believe they have a smoking gun. Yet they are unable to name names. Can you? If so please, please do so. I firmly believe that the PSNI, HET, PONI, DPP, PPS will act on your evidence if you have any.

    Even when TV programmes believe they have someone bang-to-rights they can get it wrong, as the recent Newsnight investigation into a Tory grandee showed.

    The TV detectives also use the words of the very people that are at the centre of their allegations, the agents. When these agents confirm the TV programme makers’ suspicions we are supposed to take their ‘evidence’ at face value. Perhaps they are selling a pile of poo, as they no doubt do on occasion when talking to their handlers. Remember agents are seldom the best society has to offer.

    My bottom line? If there is evidence to prosecute security service, army or police members then prosecute them. It has to be evidence, not supposition, inference, suggestion, possibility, just evidence.

    As I type this I’m thinking that I’m wasting my time. I very much doubt that my point of view will sway you from any of your convictions. With that thought I’ll leave it.

    It may be that in time I will be proved wrong although I’m firmly convinced I won’t be. Then again perhaps the Lizardmen who command the Dark Forces that control Northern Ireland will always deny us access to the Light of the Truth you espouse.

  • mr x


    Do you know what percentage of the UK population believes shooting Finucaine was a crime?.

  • sonofstrongbow

    No idea. I couldn’t say how many of the UK population know about the incident.

    Of those who do know about the murder I would expect 100% to recognise it as such.

  • tacapall

    Some RUC officer give his subordinates permission to hand a weapon back to terrorists, this weapon was later used in the murder of five innocent people, surely the public and the victims families have a right to know who and why and what action was taken against those involved, Would that be to much for some of those five victims families to expect ?

  • tacapall

    Sorry, that was used in the murders of seven innocent people. If that happened in Britain, would there be a public inquiry ?

  • Morpheus

    SoS you seem to think the lack of prosecutions is in some way an indicator that these things didn’t happen. I would say that it is very evident that it did go on and the very fact that there were little no prosecutions is a shame on Northern Ireland.

    Not all RUC officers were corrupt, not even close and I too believe that most joined to make a difference. But the actions of a few, in particular Special Branch, brought enough shame in the whole organisation that the Catholic community would never accept it and it had to be totally changed, top to bottom. Hugh Orde did an absolutely fantastic job of making the Police a representative police force and encourage many nationalists that the police is now for everyone.

    I read your bit about the egg with a smile. Watch this from 8 minutes 15 seconds onwards to get from the mouths of the actual reciepients how much intelligence was passed from the security forces:

    It will all come out in the wash, sooner or later. If Bloody Sunday and Hillsborough taught us one thing is that the truth comes out in the end if it is chased passionately enough.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Yes I expect it was question one on the Special Branch application form: do you hate Catholics?

    Tick ‘yes’ to proceed, ‘no’ to exit the process.

    You may very well take the words of the “recipients” as verbatim.

    Personally I’ll be a little more circumspect; but different strokes and all that.

  • mr x

    Seems to me what a supporter of Sinn Fein considers murder may be a patriotic act to a UKIP voter.