U.S. Call for Finucane Inquiry

By Niall O’Dowd
August / September 2001

The U.S.-based National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) has called on the British government to set up a full judicial inquiry into the 1989 murder of Pat Finucane, the Belfast lawyer.

One of Northern Ireland’s leading defense attorneys, Finucane, who often represented clients accused of IRA crimes, was shot dead in front of his family on February 12, 1989. A loyalist paramilitary organization, the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) claimed responsibility in April 1989. His murder has never been solved despite several police investigations.

Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, and his law partner, Peter Madden, spoke at a New York luncheon hosted by the NCAFP on June 19.

Geraldine Finucane stated that her husband’s murder was not the isolated event she had initially believed it to be, but rather a “calculated and well-devised strategy that had been and still was operating as a policy throughout the whole of Northern Ireland.”

Madden told the guests that he had recently talked to a member of the secretive Force Research Unit (FRU), a British Army unit, which allegedly carded out assassinations in Northern Ireland. His source confirmed that Brian Nelson, the former British Army mole inside the Loyalist paramilitary group the UDA, had accompanied FRU members on a reconnaissance of Finucane’s house where he was later shot, and that intelligence documents relating to the killing had been altered after the fact.

Madden also quoted a retired RUC officer who says that he had taken a statement from a Loyalist admitting to the Finucane killing, but that subsequently the tape had been erased and another conversation put in its place.

Bill Flynn, chairman of NCAFP, a key player in securing the American role in the Irish peace process, introduced the speakers and stated that the Finucane murder raised fundamental issues which had to be resolved in order for the peace process to succeed, and in a dramatic moment, read out a recent letter to Madden from the RUC warning him that he was on a death list. Flynn also stated that under the revised version of the Patten report on policing in Northern Ireland any findings made in police inquiries could be kept secret at the behest of the Northern Ireland British Secretary of State.

A recent New York Times editorial, citing both the Finucane murder and the murder of lawyer Rosemary Nelson, in 1999, make clear that a more energetic and open investigation of these killings is needed, “To do justice in these cases and address serious questions of possible government involvement, Britain should open an independent, judicial inquiry along the lines of the current investigation into the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre.” ♦

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