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Family's Herculean efforts for justice go on

(Jim Gibney, Irish News)

As the 17th anniversary of the killing of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane approaches the family are wondering when the British government will stop protecting those who killed him and allow the truth to emerge.

On February 12 1989 loyalist gunmen shot Pat dead in front of his wife Geraldine and their three children in their north Belfast home.

For 17 years the Finucane family and their supporters have campaigned for the truth about Pat's assassination.

Their determination to uncover the truth has been matched with successive British government's efforts to conceal the truth.

The Finucane family mobilised national and international human rights organisations to support their cause.

Pat's wife Geraldine took the case to the European Court of Human Rights. The court censured the British government for failing to investigate, 'promptly and effectively' allegations of collusion in his killing.

In June 2005 the Council of Europe's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights accused the British government of failing to implement decisions by the Human Rights Court in relation to the killing.

In April this year the British government sponsored a motion at the United Nations for the 'protection of human rights through action to combat impunity' yet protect those involved in killing Mr Finucane.

The killing has been taken up by the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on summary executions.

The Irish government, Amnesty International and a range of human rights and relatives organisations support the family's call.

The Herculean efforts of the Finucane family and other campaigning relative's organisations helped create the situation where public opinion now accepts that collusion was routinely practised between British forces and loyalists killing hundreds of people.

In April 2003 Sir John Stevens, one of Britain's leading police officers, in his third investigation into collusion said Pat's murder could have been prevented and there was collusion between the crown forces and loyalists in the killing.

It has been established beyond doubt that four loyalists involved in killing the lawyer were state agents.

Under relentless pressure from the Finucane family the British government in 2001 were forced to announce an invistigation into collusion in six killings including Pats'.

In 2002 Canadian Judge Cory was appointed to carry out the investigation. In October 2003 he publicised his findings.

He called for a public inquiry to be 'held as quickly as possible' saying he found evidence in Pat's killing, which 'constituted collusion'.

The British government had publicly promised to act on Judge Cory's recommendations and there was an understandable expectation that an independent public inquiry would be established.

Such expectation underestimated the determination of the securocrats in the British military and political system to protect themselves by hiding the truth.

The British government delayed a year before accepting Cory's report.

When they did so they abolished the 1921 Inquiries Act and introduced a new Inquiries Act which allows them control over all aspects of an inquiry into Pat's killing.

They threw Cory's recommendations out the window.

Under the new act the British government appoints the inquiry panel, sets their terms of reference, decides who can attend the hearing, what evidence will be presented, how much, if any, of the inquiry is public and whether the inquiry's findings will be published.

The British government already announced that most of any inquiry will be held in private. Their excuse: 'national security'.

In other words, the truth about the killing of Pat Finucane, a human rights lawyer, cannot be told for reasons of British 'national security'.

What does this say about Britain's role here?

Under this new act the truth about who was behind Pat's killing will be filtered through the securocrats' sieve. In a letter supporting the Finucane family Judge Cory described the new act as creating an 'intolerable Alice in Wonderland situation' and said no self-respecting judge' would adjudicate at such an inquiry.

The Finucane family have understandably rejected the inquiry's terms of reference.

This week a family member is in Brussels with other families lobbying for EU support for a thorough investigation into collusion which killed their relatives.

Despite all the set backs and dis-appointments the family are still determined to have an international public inquiry into Pat's killing.

December 9, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 8, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

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