Kenny supports full Finucane inquiry on first visit to North

Fri, Nov 18, 2011, 00:00

ENDA KENNY on his first visit to Northern Ireland as Taoiseach last night expressed his support for a full public inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane and said he would raise the matter with politicians in the US.

Mr Kenny, after earlier visiting the loyalist heartland of east Belfast, met the solicitor’s widow, Geraldine, in the Europa Hotel where he reiterated the Government’s view that a full inquiry must be held.

He spoke to Ms Finucane ahead of the Aisling community service awards where she was honoured as person of the year. Last month the British prime minister, David Cameron, ordered a review of the murder to be carried out by leading British lawyer Sir Desmond de Silva QC.

But he refused a full-scale inquiry that the Finucanes have been demanding for years and that was previously recommended by Canadian judge Peter Cory.

Mr Kenny said while in opposition he had tabled a motion calling for an inquiry “and I stand by that position”. He said he had agreed to follow through on Ms Finucane’s request that he would lobby on the issue with US politicians and European leaders. He said he would continue to press Mr Cameron to change his position and order a public inquiry.

Mr Kenny presented Ms Finucane with her award last night. “She is a person of outstanding courage who is the epitome in many ways of the difficulties that people in Northern Ireland have had to face. I commend her persistence,” he said. The Finucane family said it was “heartened” by the Taoiseach’s comments.

Earlier Mr Kenny paid a courtesy visit to First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont. He then travelled to loyalist east Belfast where he met community workers and politicians and former loyalist paramilitaries.

On his way into a community building close to the East Belfast Mission on the Newtownards Road, Mr Kenny stopped to shake hands with an elderly man – described as a “local personality” – who asked him, “Are you a f...ing Peeler ?”

Mr Kenny was only briefly nonplussed. He then entered the building where he was warmly welcomed by a diverse gathering that included former members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, the Red Hand Commando and Progressive Unionist Party politicians including its new leader, Billy Hutchinson.