Family calls Finucane collusion inquiry a 'sham'
Taoiseach Enda Kenny last night held to the Government position that there should be a public inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane after an official British government review found that he might still be alive but for the actions of British state agencies such as the RUC, the British army and MI5.
The 500-page review published yesterday by Sir Desmond de Silva QC reported that there were three UDA conspiracies to murder the Belfast solicitor – in 1981, 1985 and finally in 1988-89 – and on none of these occasions was he warned about the danger to his life.
Mr Finucane, who had represented leading republicans such as hunger striker Bobby Sands, was gunned down in his north Belfast home in front of his wife Geraldine and his three children in February 1989.
“Overall, I am left in significant doubt as to whether Patrick Finucane would have been murdered by the UDA in February 1989 had it not been for the different strands of involvement of elements of the state,” reported Sir Desmond de Silva. He found there was no “overarching” British state conspiracy to murder Mr Finucane but that a “series of positive actions by employees of the state actively furthered and facilitated his murder and that in the aftermath of the murder there was a relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice”.
British prime minister David Cameron said the “shocking levels of collusion” exposed by the report was “unacceptable” and again apologised to the Finucane family.
Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine said the report was a “sham”, a “whitewash” and a “confidence trick”, adding: “Yet another British government has engineered a suppression of the truth behind the murder of my husband.”
Mr Kenny welcomed Mr Cameron’s apology and his “determination to get to the truth” but in the face of the prime minister’s refusal to hold a public inquiry, he repeated his call for a full, independent and public inquiry into the murder.
Mr de Silva in his report found that in December 1988, MI5 received information about a “potentially serious threat to the life” of the solicitor but that “no steps had been taken to warn him that his life was in danger or to otherwise protect him”.
“I believe that the responsibility for the failure to act on the December 1988 threat intelligence lies with the Security Service (MI5),” he added.
Mr Finucane was murdered shortly after British home office junior minister Douglas Hogg had said that certain solicitors in Northern Ireland were “unduly sympathetic” to terrorist organisations.
His comments were based on an RUC briefing which the organisation expected would be put into the public domain, according to the report.
Mr de Silva was satisfied Mr Hogg’s comments did not incite the UDA to murder Mr Finucane but added that they may have, “albeit unwittingly, further increased the vulnerability of defence solicitors, including Patrick Finucane”.
He referred to RUC Special Branch agent Ken Barrett, one of the gunmen involved in the murder and the only UDA member convicted for the killing. He had reported how he was recruited as an RUC informant in October 1991, even though he had earlier given a qualified admission to the police that he had murdered the solicitor.
“I am sure that the RUC Special Branch took a conscious decision to recruit Kenneth Barrett as an agent rather than seek to bring him to justice for his role in the murder of Patrick Finucane,” he said.
Mr de Silva did not believe it was “possible to establish with certainty whether RUC officers proposed Patrick Finucane as a target to UDA members” in Castlereagh interrogation centre.
He believed, however, based on circumstantial evidence, that it was likely “an RUC officer or officers” did propose Mr Finucane, and at least one other person, as a target in Castlereagh on December 8th or 9th, 1988.