Villiers calls Finucane review a 'robust process'


THE BRITISH government investigation of the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane has been defended as “a robust process” by newly appointed Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers, who was speaking on a visit to Dublin yesterday.

Despite demands from the Finucane family for a public inquiry into the killing, which was carried out by loyalists who were in collusion with the security forces, international lawyer Sir Desmond de Silva QC was appointed to review the case and report in December.

“We’re very confident that this is a robust process, our goal here is to get to the truth, said Ms Villiers, who is Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet. “It was a tragic case and it’s absolutely right that it’s fully and properly investigated and I’ve got every confidence that the de Silva review will provide the answers.”

Ms Villiers was also asked about the more recent controversy over the jailing of republican Marian Price, who was detained in May 2011 after previous secretary of state Owen Paterson revoked the licence on which she had been released in 1980 for IRA bombings in London.

“A number of people have raised this with me, so I know it’s a sensitive issue, I know there is concern about it, but the reality is that this is not a decision for me, this is a decision for the Parole Commissioners and they are conducting their review at the moment.

“If I were to seek to intervene politically in what is a legal process I think that would be wholly inappropriate,” said Ms Villiers, who is meeting Taoiseach Enda Kenny this morning.

She had talks yesterday on tourism and historical commemorations with Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan Jimmy Deenihan, who also brought her on a visit to Glasnevin Cemetery.

“I was taken to see the grave of Michael Collins and others who have played very significant parts in Irish history,” she told The Irish Times.

She also held talks with Garda Commissioner Martin Callanan: “I applaud the efforts made by An Garda Síochána and indeed the Irish Government on our mutual objective of combating criminality and those who would still seek to use terrorism to achieve political ends.” Commenting on the Ulster Covenant parade in Belfast at the weekend, she said: “I was pleased that overall the day was peaceful and successful and it wasn’t blighted by the disorder that many people feared. It was really important, as we approach the decade of centenaries, that one of the first major ones went off without public order concerns and thankfully without terrorist incident.

“So I welcomed the huge amount of work that went in ahead of Saturday to try and find pragmatic solutions to ensure that the day could be commemorated in a way which assisted mutual respect between the different traditions in Northern Ireland.”

She intends to continue the work of her predecessor to have the rate of corporation tax reduced as a means of promoting investment to Northern Ireland.

“Ultimately, we don’t yet know what the decision of the prime minister will be, but I am keenly and enthusiastically engaging with my ministerial colleagues and making sure that the views of people in Northern Ireland are got across effectively,” she said.

Ms Villiers has family connections with George Villiers, fourth Earl of Clarendon, who was lord lieutenant of Ireland in the late 1840s, and with the first Duke of Buckingham, who had a key role in Irish affairs during the time of King James I.