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The British prime minister, David Cameron, has today described loyalist/state collusion revealed in the de Silva review relating to the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane as “unbelievably ghastly”.

The Pat Finucane Centre, however, believes those words would be better applied to the British government’s continuing refusal to establish a full, public, independent inquiry.

Cameron is pushing the line that there was no “over-arching” state conspiracy into Pat Finucane’s murder, yet:

1. The UDA, whose gunmen (including RUC agent Ken Barrett) murdered Pat, whose “intelligence” unit was headed by a British military agent (Brian Nelson) and whose “quarter-master” (Billy Stobie) provided the weapon used (stolen from a British Army barracks in Holywood, County Down) was a legal organisation at the time of the murder.

It took a further three years before the UDA was banned. The Pat Finucane Centre has uncovered documents[1] showing that, as far back as the early 1970’s, the UDA was viewed as a “release valve” for “Protestant extremists”.

2. In January 1992, the then Department of Public Prosecutions reached a deal (effectively a cover-up), allowing Nelson to plead guilty to five counts of conspiracy to murder. This prevented the courts examining his activities as a British military agent. Nelson was given a derisory ten year prison term.

3. The man who acted as Nelson’s “handler” and who gave him a glowing character reference during the 1992 court hearing was Brigadier Gordon Kerr who became head of the Force Research Unit in 1987, two years before Pat Finucane’s murder.

In 1997 (eight years after Pat Finucane’s murder), Kerr was promoted and became Britain’s military attaché in Beijing, where he was awarded an OBE. He also holds the Queen’s Medal for Gallantry. Two weeks after he was identified in the Stevens Report into collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane, Tony Blair sent him to Iraq. He has never been charged with a single offence.

Pat Finucane was stalked by a British military agent who was then given effective immunity by the office of the DPP. The gun used to murder him was of British military origin. It was supplied by one RUC agent and fired by another RUC agent.

Pat Finucane’s murder was authorised and carried out by state agents. What more evidence is needed before London grants the public inquiry demanded by the Finucane family?


[1] Photocopy of document retrieved from British National Archives available from our offices on request

Paul O’Connor

Unit B8, Ráth Mór Centre
Bligh’s Lane, Derry, BT48 0LZ
Tel: 028 71268846

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PM says report highlights ‘shocking levels of collusion’ with terrorists in Northern Ireland, but widow labels report a sham

Henry McDonald and Owen Bowcott
12 Dec 2012

>>VIDEO: The prime minister, David Cameron, makes a statement in the House of Commons on collusion between British security forces and loyalist terrorists

David Cameron has apologised to the family of the murdered Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane and agreed that there was state collusion between police officers and soldiers and his loyalist killers.

Launching the De Silva report (see this post) into one of the most divisive murders of the Northern Ireland Troubles, the prime minister said there were “shocking levels of collusion” in the killing. Cameron told the House of Commons that the depth of the co-operation between the security forces and Finucane’s loyalist killers was “unacceptable”.

Addressing parliament, Cameron said that “on the balance of probability”, an officer or officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) did propose Finucane as a target to loyalist terrorists.

He did, however, deny there was any overarching conspiracy to use loyalists to target members of the nationalist community or active republicans.

However, Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, was scathing about the report, describing it as a “sham … a whitewash … a confidence trick. Most insulting of all, this report is not the truth.”

“Yet another British government has engineered the suppression of the truth about the murder of my husband, Pat Finucane,” she told a press conference.

The prime minister admitted that the report made for “extremely difficult reading” in regard to Sir Desmond de Silva’s findings, such as the revelation that 80% of the Ulster Defence Association’s intelligence information came from official state sources.

The UDA was responsible for shooting Finucane dead in front of his family at their north Belfast home in February 1989. His family and human rights campaigners have insisted over the past 23 years that there was collaboration between the UDA in west and north Belfast and members of the security forces.

The De Silva report concluded that British army agent handlers “deliberately” helped loyalist gunmen select their targets in Northern Ireland in the 1980s.

But ministers may have been unaware that Finucane was being lined up for assassination, De Silva said.

The legal supervision of agents in paramilitary gangs was nonetheless woefully inadequate and the high-level ignorance was possibly intentional, his report said.

“There was a wilful and abject failure by successive governments to provide the clear policy and legal framework necessary for agent-handling operations to take place effectively within the law,” he said.

“The system appears to have facilitated political deniability in relation to such operations, rather than creating mechanisms for an appropriate level of political oversight.”

Those who directed and took part in the murder of Finucane were mainly agents and informers working for the army’s Force Research Unit (FRU).

De Silva’s report shows the RUC was aware of two previous plans to kill Finucane earlier in the 1980s but did not notify him of the threat.

“Notwithstanding the apparent seriousness of the threat to Finucane’s life,” the report says, “the decision was taken by RUC special branch, supported by the Irish Joint Section (of MI5 and MI6), to take no action to warn or otherwise protect him because to do so could compromise an agent from whom the intelligence derived.”

It adds, in reference to another solicitor suspected of having links to paramilitaries: “Steps were often not taken to secure the protection of those who were considered to be a thorn in the side of the security forces during this period of the Troubles.”

Addressing the Finucane family, who were in London for the report’s launch, the prime minister said he was “deeply sorry” in relation to the scandal. However, he tried to exonerate the former Tory cabinet minister Douglas Hogg over comments he made prior to the Finucane murder in which Hogg said some solicitors in Northern Ireland were unduly sympathetic to the IRA.

The prime minister insisted that Hogg made his remark because of briefings he had received back then. The comments Hogg made were not intended to encourage people to attack Finucane, according to De Silva, Cameron added.

Amnesty International, however, said the De Silva review had failed the Finucane family and had not delivered them justice.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s director in Northern Ireland, said: “The Finucanes, and indeed the public, have been fobbed off with a ‘review of the paperwork’ – which reneges on repeated commitments by the British government and falls short of the UK’s obligations under international law.

“It is unacceptable and Amnesty, his family and the public should not settle for anything other than the full and independent investigation that this case, and Patrick Finucane’s memory, warrants. The state has accepted that there was collusion in Patrick Finucane’s killing. Those responsible must be held accountable.”

The prime minister said he “respectfully disagreed” with the Finucane family over their demand for a full, independent public inquiry and cited the cost of the Bloody Sunday tribunal as one reason for opposing it.

He also accepted that RUC special branch was “responsible for seriously obstructing the investigation”.

One of the security force whistleblowers in the Finucane case, the ex-military intelligence officer Ian Hurst, who belonged to a secretive army unit running agents inside the UDA, said there was little chance of either police or military handlers or their loyalist informers facing the courts. He has faced charges of breaching the Official Secrets Act for leaking information about the role of army intelligence in running agents within the UDA who committed crimes including the targeting of Finucane.

“There is as much chance of that happening as there is of Sir Jimmy Savile returning as a saint and making love to the Queen,” Hurst told the Guardian.

He said he backed “100%” the Finucanes’ demand for a full, independent inquiry.

“They should be entitled to the whole truth, not a version of it,” the ex-intelligence officer added.

In his speech to the Commons, the prime minister said that both RUC special branch and the army group Hurst once belonged to, the FRU, had advance notice of assassinations the UDA was planning but took no action.

One of the agents who was centrally involved in the Finucane murder plot was Brian Nelson, the UDA’s so-called intelligence officer at the time. FRU officers provided Nelson with intelligence files on IRA and republican suspects, which the former soldier then passed on to his UDA colleagues.

On the army’s role, Cameron told MPs that the military and Ministry of Defence officials provided ministers with “misleading and in parts factually inaccurate advice about the Force Research Unit’s handling of Nelson”.

Nelson was certainly not alone in terms of informants working inside the UDA. At least 29 members of the UDA in north and west Belfast were informers for at least one or more security force agencies at the time Finucane was shot dead.

Intriguingly, the prime minister during his speech admitted that the attorney general in John Major’s government was under “considerable political pressure to ensure Nelson was not prosecuted”. Cameron said Sir Patrick Mayhew deserved credit for resisting these demands to protect the agent inside the UDA.

Opposition politicians also expressed their dismay over the Finucane scandal and De Silva’s findings. Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, said he had never heard a statement in the Commons that filled him with more “revulsion” than the prime minister’s address.

The Actual Report

• Executive Summary And Principal Conclusions
• Volume One
• Volume Two

Official Website of the Independent Pat Finucane Review

Belfast Telegraph
10 Dec 2012

Michael Finucane said he was not surprised to learn the gun that killed his father was given back to the British Army by the RUC

A pistol used in the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane was handed back to the British Army by the RUC, previously unpublished papers show.

New details about collusion between the RUC and the loyalist killers who targeted the 38-year-old in 1989 have been revealed in a report.

The unseen chapter from the Stevens Inquiry is highly critical of the RUC’s “inadequate” investigation in the case and found officers deliberately destroyed vital evidence, while exhibits and records could not be found and fingerprints at the scene were not compared against suspects.

It stated one of two murder weapons, a Browning pistol, was recovered by police but then given back to the British army, from where it had previously been stolen by loyalists.

Mr Finucane’s son Michael said he is not surprised by the revelations.

“Unfortunately, many other families are in a similar position to ourselves where they are finding out after the fact because the material has been held back for so long, that what they were told was a diligent and efficient and effective investigation was in fact anything but,” he said.

Four chapters of a report by Sir John Stevens were published in 2003.

In the newly-released nine-page chapter six, entitled Murder Investigation, Mr Stevens criticised the handling of the murder weapon by the RUC.

“This was not a case of administrative oversight, or even some loss occasioned by a lack of care,” he wrote.

“I believe it was a clear and deliberate decision to relinquish control of a key exhibit, resulting in the destruction of vital evidence.

“The lack of records has prevented the identification of the person responsible for this decision.

“The potential consequences of this particular disposal are obvious, with allegations made from the start of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.

“The face that the firearm, when recovered, was found to have originated from the army no doubt fuelled that suspicion.”

Stevens added the decision not only compromised a key exhibit, but also put any solider using it legally at risk of being implicated.

Chapter six was released following a four-year battle by RTE reporter Richard Dowling under the Freedom of Information Act in the UK.

Its contents emerged as a mural to commemorate the continuing legacy of Mr Finucane was unveiled close to where he grew up in west Belfast and days before a new report into his death is published.

His widow Geraldine has vowed to keep up a campaign for a full public inquiry into the gun attack regardless of the findings of the review, being carried out by Sir Desmond de Silva.

The Catholic father-of-three was shot dead when loyalist UDA/UFF gunmen used sledgehammers to burst in through the front door of his home in north Belfast in February 1989.

Chapter six also examined the RUC’s handling of the investigation into Brian Adam Lambert, a Protestant killed by loyalists who mistook him for a Catholic.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams described Mr Finucane as a remarkable, extraordinary and courageous Irishman.

He also condemned the British government’s repudiation of the 2001 Weston Park agreement between the Irish and British governments which endorsed a public inquiry and their setting up of the de Silva review.

“Whatever the outcome of the de Silva review all of us have a duty to fully support the Finucane family’s response to it. The family’s demand for a full, transparent and accountable public inquiry is reasonable,’ Mr Adams said at the unveiling of the mural.

The politician recently revealed the de Silva review has also uncovered a loyalist plot to kill him.
Sunday, 09 December 2012

The mural to Pat Finucane was unveiled in west Belfast on Sunday.

The family of Pat Finucane has gathered at a new mural in memory of the murdered solicitor, days before a report into his death is published.

Mr Finucane was shot dead by loyalist gunmen who forced their way into his north Belfast home in February 1989.

A report into the death of the Catholic father of three, conducted by Sir Desmond de Silva, will be published on Wednesday. On the same day Prime Minister David Cameron will make a statement to the House of Commons.

On Sunday, a mural was unveiled on Beechmount Avenue in west Belfast, close to where the 38-year-old grew up.

His widow Geraldine told UTV the Finucane family is still calling for a full independent public inquiry into the murder.

“We’ve not participated in this review. We don’t know anything that went on. We don’t know who he has spoken to. We don’t know what he’s seen – and we won’t know,” she said.

“I do know that there will be no recommendations made in this report.”

Mrs Finucane said Sir de Silva told her that his report would contain “hard-hitting conclusions”.

“But we do know that he was shown sensitive material and he agreed not to put it in the report. That doesn’t inspire us with confidence,” she added.

She welcomed the new mural which she said was painted in “part of Pat’s community”.

“It’s very important that he’s recognised in his own community by the people. I’m delighted with the mural. It’s lovely,” she commented.

“We do feel that this report will only further our calls for the public inquiry rather than diminish them.”

John Finucane

Mr Finucane’s youngest son, John, said the unveiling of the mural had come at a very appropriate time for his family. He added they will read the de Silva report “with an open mind”.

The Finucanes will travel to London this week to view the results of Sir de Silva’s inquiry, which cost £1.5m.

It was ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron, who has admitted collusion took place and apologised to Mr Finucane’s family.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was also at the event to show the Finucane family his support.

Mr Adams said the community in west Belfast knows what happened to Mr Finucane.

“This community knows that collusion was an administrative practice,” he commented.

“The family’s demand is very, very reasonable and I would call again on David Cameron and on the Irish government to use its influence on David Cameron to make sure that – regardless of the outcome of this DeSilva review -the family have the fully independent inquiry that they are looking for,” said Mr Adams.

The secret justice bill will normalise security force abuses – and undermine the Northern Ireland peace process

Brian Gormally
The Guardian – Comment is free
27 August 2012

John and Geraldine Finucane, the youngest son and wife of Pat Finucane, the murdered Northern Irish lawyer, in Dublin last February as part of an Amnesty International campaign for a judicial probe into the 1989 killing. (Photograph: Reuters)

‘The right to know and effectively challenge the opposing case has long been recognised by the common law as a fundamental feature of the judicial process” – so said Lord Kerr in a recent supreme court judgment.

However, the justice and security bill now going through parliament would give the government the power to decide that certain evidence in civil proceedings might cause “damage” or “harm” to the public interest, and therefore must be given in secret. It would use the special advocate procedure, which excludes non-state parties from a hearing or from any knowledge of the secret evidence given in these “closed material proceedings”. Those of us campaigning on human rights in Northern Ireland are particularly concerned about the impact of this legislation in our region.

The Northern Ireland dimension is important for three reasons. First, the legislation is a breach of the common law principle of open justice, which is at least 300 years old. Second, similar measures have been trialled in Northern Ireland and led to miscarriages of justice. Third, applying this law here would add to the cover of secrecy over the past and present actions of security and intelligence agents – threatening to undermine the peace process and nurture a culture of impunity.

The establishment of a parallel “anti-terrorist” justice system would lead to the kind of human rights abuses that fuelled the conflict in Northern Ireland and marginalised communities. And this legislation risks weakening the peace process in one crucial way. One of the gaps in that process is the lack of a comprehensive method of dealing with the legacy of the past, especially in terms of unsolved murders and other crimes. Instead there is a patchwork of measures, including public inquiries, the historical inquiries team, ongoing investigations by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the police ombudsman and inquests.

Thankfully, the secret justice proposals do not relate to inquests. But a range of civil proceedings dealing with the legacy of the conflict would be affected, including any future judicial reviews of investigations into conflict-related deaths, challenges relating to decisions not to prosecute, and civil actions for damages that concern miscarriages of justice, cases of ill-treatment or unlawful killings. This legislation would in effect close off all the other legal avenues that victims or their relatives are trying to use to get at the truth.

Many of these cases revolve around the actions of state agents – whether uniformed policemen or soldiers, or the shadow army of agents and informants recruited by a range of secret agencies during the secret war in Northern Ireland. There is a pattern emerging of covering up these activities and refusing to properly investigate cases where state agents may have been involved in unlawful killings. This pattern includes the refusal of an inquiry into the murder of the human rights lawyer Pat Finucane – the most prominent and serious collusion case admitted by the UK prime minister.

There can be little doubt, however, that the experience of waging a 30-year dirty war within the borders of the UK has deeply corrupted the British security establishment. It is arguable that its long experience in Northern Ireland has normalised human rights abuses in the pursuit of “counter-terrorism”. Today the dirty war is not confined to Northern Ireland but has a global theatre of operations. And, under the same lid of secrecy, a culture of impunity for the security establishment corrupts and rots the very fabric of democracy and the rule of law.

Brian Gormally is director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, a human rights NGO in Northern Ireland
24 Apr 2012

Pat Finucane was murdered at his Belfast home by Loyalists in 1989

Potential cross-examination of David Cameron about the refusal to order a public inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane is being thwarted, the High Court has heard.

An affidavit from the Prime Minister’s private secretary blocks any chance of questioning him about claims he told the lawyer’s widow Geraldine that others around Downing Street would not allow a full independent probe, a judge was told.

Lawyers for Mrs Finucane are to seek an order striking out the “hearsay” statement that Mr Cameron denies making the comments.

It was also alleged that a sham consultation process was undertaken when the decision not to hold an inquiry had been pre-determined.

With papers in the case now to be served on the Irish Government, next month’s scheduled hearing of the challenge has been put back.

Mr Finucane was gunned down at his north Belfast home by the Loyalists in 1989.

His family have campaigned for a full independent inquiry and believed they were set to achieve that when they went to Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister last October.

Instead, they were shocked to be told that a review, conducted by a senior lawyer, rather than an inquiry would take place.

In an affidavit filed as part of their legal challenge, Mrs Finucane claimed the family was treated “cruelly”.

According to her, the only explanation for the apparent change of mind was the intervention of a person or persons unknown.

She alleged: “This view was supported by a comment made by the Prime Minister during the meeting when he said ‘It is true that the previous administration could not deliver a public inquiry and neither can we.

“There are people in buildings all around here who won’t let it happen’.”

It was revealed on Tuesday, however, that a senior official has averred that Mr Cameron instructed him that he did not use the words alleged.

Barry Macdonald QC, for the Finucanes, told the court his clients have a record of the meeting but no minutes have been made available from the British Government.

Because the affidavit was not by the Prime Minister himself, he cannot be questioned on its contents.

Mr Macdonald said: “We essentially will be suggesting this hearsay averment is a device to avoid the possibility of the Prime Minister being subjected to cross-examination on that issue.”

Mrs Finucane was in court as her barrister further contended that the decision not to hold a public inquiry was taken months before the October meeting.

“It’s going to be our suggestion that this consultation process was essentially a sham and the decision had been pre-determined.”

Paul McLaughlin, for the British Government, confirmed he would need to take instructions on the points raised.

The case, which was due to be heard in May, was listed for a further review in June.

Meanwhile, Sir Desmond De Silva’s review of the killing is continuing as he plans to report back by the end of the year.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson has said he believes that the De Silva analysis is the best mechanism available to get to the truth of what happened in the case.

News Letter
20 April 2012

THE Taoiseach appears to be creating a “hierarchy of victims” by pressing for a public inquiry into Pat Finucane’s murder while failing to meet relatives of the Kingsmills massacre, it was claimed last night.

Enda Kenny was giving the Chancellor’s Lecture at the University of Ulster in Belfast, in which he said British and Irish relations have never been stronger. But he said the governments still disagree on the calls for a public inquiry into the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane.

Mr Finucane was shot by loyalist paramilitaries at his north Belfast home in 1989, but the Government has apologised after security forces were exposed as having colluded in the killing.

Mr Kenny said last night: “Prime Minister David Cameron and I signed a joint statement on intensifying British-Irish relations for the next decade.

“This important initiative recognises that British-Irish relations have never been stronger. The state visit of Her Majesty The Queen last year served as a symbol of a modern, deep and friendly relationship. It was the birth of a new phase in the relationship between our islands.”

But he added: “While working closely with my British counterpart, there are matters on which we share a difference of opinion. Late last year, I had the privilege of presenting Geraldine Finucane with a Person of the Year Award in Belfast and I want to say once again how much I respect and admire the way she has campaigned for over 22 years, with great dignity and courage, and I support her in her campaign for a full public inquiry.”

However Ulster Unionist peer Lord Empey said last night he was “very disappointed Mr Kenny is persisting with this”.

Despite the UUP pressing the Taoiseach to meet the Kingsmills families for 11 months, Mr Kenney has not yet confirmed a date on which he will see them.

Ten Protestant workmen were slain by the IRA at Kingsmills in south Armagh in 1976. The PSNI Historical Enquiries Team found that key suspects benefited from safe haven across the border after the murders. Nobody has ever been charged.

“Mr Kenny has still to confirm a date when he will meet the Kingsmills families,” Lord Empey added. “The murder of Pat Finucane was outrageous and is the subject of a substantial investigation which is due to report in December.

“But what is unique about the Finucane murder when compared to the Kingsmills, Omagh, Teebane or Tullyvallen atrocities, none of which are currently due to be examined by public inquiry?”

He said it appeared the Taoiseach’s conduct was creating a “hierarchy of victims” from the Troubles.

His party colleague executive minister Danny Kennedy, who has been pressing for a meeting with Mr Kenney and the Kingsmills families for 11 months, said the Taoiseach has agreed in principle to meet them but has not given a date.

“The families are angry and frustrated,” the UUP MLA said. “They feel like they are being treated as second class citizens.”

Victims campaigner Willie Frazer, who is working closely with the Kingsmills families, said he had recently called off discussions with senior Garda at the last minute because he was assured the Taoiseach would meet the families.

“I was meeting the Garda to organise a fresh victims’ parade in Dublin,” he said. “When I heard Enda Kennedy had agreed to meet the Kingsmills families we did not go through with the meeting. But now that we hear he has failed to confirm a date we feel very angry.”

Colin Worton, whose elder brother Kenneth was murdered at Kingsmills, agreed.

“The Taoiseach should be even handed and meet victims from our side of the community too,” he said. “Only meeting one side of the community is not really on”.

Tom Moseley
Belfast Telegraph
14 March 2012

Westminster “will soon have run out of excuses” not to hold an inquiry into Pat Finucane’s death, a former Northern Ireland Minister has said.

Lord Dubs said that until there was a full inquiry, “the world will think that the British Government have something to hide”.

Lord Dubs, who held a post in the Northern Ireland Office during the 1990s, was speaking after posing a question on the issue in the House of Lords.

He told peers that demands for an inquiry had come from groups including the UN, the European Court of Human Rights and the US Senate.

In response, Government whip Lord Shutt said an inquiry into the 1989 murder would cause “enormous delay” and “enormous cost”.

Sir Desmond Silva has been appointed to carry out a review of the case, and his findings are expected in eight months.

This week Taoiseach Enda Kenny said there was a “difference of opinion” with the British Government on the matter during a visit to Westminster.

By Dominique Searle
Gibralter Chronicle
8 Mar 2012
**Via Newshound

The shooting of three IRA members by the SAS in March 1988 is linked to a major review commissioned by the Prime Minister David Cameron, it has emerged. Sir Desmond de Silva , PC,QC, a member of the Gibraltar Bar, was asked by the Prime Minister to chair a Review into the assassination of a well-known Belfast lawyer – Patrick Finucane, in 1989.

As this case has had attached to it allegations of state collusion in the murder Sir Desmond’s Review will involve an examination of the activities of the intelligence services, the police and the army in Northern Ireland at the time.

In order to properly discharge the work of this Review, Her Majesty appointed him a member of Her Privy Council. A Gibraltar connection springs from the SAS shootings of IRA operatives on the Rock.

Mairead Farrell, who was one of the IRA operatives who was shot dead in Gibraltar, was engaged to be married to Seamus Finucane the brother of Patrick, whose own killing allegedly by agents of the state, Sir Desmond is currently investigating.

It is understood that once the Review is complete and his Report is presented to Parliament Sir Desmond will return to his busy practice in London and abroad. Although he has been involved with the prosecution of some very high profile cases he is, perhaps, best known as a hugely successful defence QC who has, in Gibraltar alone, defended in many contested cases before the Supreme Court.

On the October 12 2011 the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland appointed Sir Desmond de Silva QC to carry out an independent review into state involvement in the murder of Pat Finucane in 1989.

Sir Desmond de Silva is determined to expose the truth about this “appalling” murder.

“I know from my work internationally over many years that it is only when the truth is fully exposed that communities can

put the trauma of conflict behind them to secure a lasting peace.

Naturally, I will be applying the key principles of independence, thoroughness and impartiality in carrying out my work. The Government may have set my remit but it is now for me to take the task forward independently.

There have been suggestions that this Review is not capable of hearing from individuals who may have information that could assist me in my work. This is not the case; I will certainly wish to see such individuals.”

Sir Desmond asked any who may be able to assist to come forward and contact the Review at any stage to provide information or make representations.

BBC reported that when they met last October 2011, the family of Pat Finucane cut short a meeting with Mr Cameron after the Prime Minister failed to order an inquiry into the killing.

His family have long campaigned for an independent public inquiry.

Pat Finucane’s widow Geraldine told reporters she felt so angry she could hardly speak.

Mr Finucane’s family said they were “insulted” at the proposal for a review of the case and said they would continue their campaign for an independent public inquiry and would not participate in the review. Sir Desmond has written to the family asking them to contribute to the review.

As seen on the Facebook group: Justice for Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane

In memory of Pat Finucane, a human rights lawyer from Belfast who was murdered in front of his wife and children on 12 February 1989 by the pro-British UDA. Pat had successfully challenged the British Government over several important human rights cases. One of those involved in his murder, Brian Nelson, was working for the Force Research Unit, an undercover unit of British Military Intelligence.

Irish Times
14 Jan 2012

THE GOVERNMENT along with Sinn Féin and Amnesty International have welcomed the decision of a Belfast court to grant the family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane a judicial review of the decision not to hold a public inquiry into his death.

British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, speaking yesterday in Dublin, repeated earlier apologies by his government to Mr Finucane’s family but said it had “reservations” about public inquiries.

The family of Mr Finucane, who was killed at his north Belfast home by loyalist gunmen in 1989, welcomed the decision. “I think the significant aspect of it was that it was completely unopposed ,” said Mr Finucane’s widow, Geraldine.

“It was surprising but a very pleasant surprise for a change.”

The review was ordered yesterday by High Court judge Mr Justice Ben Stephens and will be heard over three days in May.

British prime minister David Cameron last year accepted there had been collusion in the killing but announced that instead of ordering a public inquiry he was appointing lawyer Sir Desmond de Silva to consider evidence.

That decision has been denounced by Mr Finucane’s family who say they will not be co-operating with Sir Desmond.

Ms Finucane said the government had left the family with no way to have the papers reviewed other than to push for a judicial review. The review was ordered at a hearing in Belfast High Court, attended by Ms Finucane, her family and solicitor Peter Madden.

Paul McLaughlin, a lawyer for Mr Cameron, said they were not opposing the application for a review.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Éamon Gilmore welcomed the decision and in particular the fact that the application was not contested. “I understand that there is a process that will now have to be gone through in the courts and, as with all court processes, I don’t think it would be appropriate to comment on those in detail.

“The Irish Government has been strongly supportive of the Finucane family in their requests for further inquiries. So I think what we have to see now play out is the legal process that will go through the courts,” he said.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said that despite admissions of collusion the British government has refused to honour an intergovernmental agreement with the Irish Government made in 2001. “It is outrageous that the British prime minister should erect obstacles before the Finucane family, break commitments given to them and force that family into another court hearing to get to the truth,” he said.
13 Jan 2012

**Video onsite

Prime Minister David Cameron allegedly told the family of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane others would not let a public inquiry into his murder happen, according to High Court papers.

The lawyer’s widow Geraldine also claims a mystery intervention led to an apparent change of mind by Mr Cameron over the holding of a full independent inquiry.

Details emerged on Friday as lawyers for the family cleared the first stage in their legal challenge over the refusal to order a public inquiry.

A judge granted leave to seek a judicial review after being told the government was not opposing the preliminary application.

The case has been listed for a full hearing over three days in May.

During a brief hearing at the Northern Ireland High Court, the Finucanes’ legal team also dropped their interim bid to stop Mr Cameron’s alternative plan for a senior lawyer to examine the case.

Sir Desmond De Silva is now expected to continue his review of the killing and report back by the end of the year.

Mr Finucane was gunned down at his north Belfast home by the loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters in 1989.

His family have campaigned for a full independent inquiry and believed they were set to achieve that when they went to Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister last October.

Instead they were shocked to be told that a review rather than an inquiry would take place.

In an affidavit filed as part of their legal challenge, Geraldine Finucane stated: “I felt, and still feel, that the Prime Minister’s actions in asking us to travel to London at our own expense to hear a decision that he must have known would not be welcomed were bewildering.

“While I still feel that we were treated cruelly by the Prime Minister and Secretary of State, on reflection I consider that the only explanation for the apparent change of mind could be an intervention or interventions by a person or persons unknown that took place between the date on which the meeting was arranged and the holding of the meeting.”

Mrs Finucane added: “This view was supported by a comment made by the Prime Minister during the meeting when he said ‘It is true that the previous administration could not deliver a public inquiry and neither can we. There are people in buildings all around here who won’t let it happen.'”

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson has said he believes that the De Silva review is the best mechanism available to get to the truth of what happened.

The family is seeking High Court orders quashing the decision to hold such a review into the murder and compelling the immediate establishment of a public inquiry.

Mr Justice Stephens granted leave to seek a judicial review after it was confirmed to him that the application was unopposed.

Outside the court, Mrs Finucane said she felt the most significant aspect was that their challenge had gone “completely unopposed”.

“It was a surprise, but a very pleasant surprise for a change.”

Mrs Finucane said a review of the murder was not the appropriate measure.

In 2001, as a result of peace process talks held at Weston Park in Shropshire, the British and Irish Governments entered into an agreement to hold inquiries into allegations that their respective security forces were linked to a number of notorious murder cases – including Mr Finucane’s killing.

It was eventually agreed that the Westminster Government would conduct inquiries into four cases, while the Dublin Government would hold one inquiry.

All have been held, except the investigation into the Finucane case.

13 Jan 2012

The family of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane will begin a legal challenge later over the government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into his death.

Mr Finucane was shot in his north Belfast home by the loyalist UFF.

The family, who have long campaigned for a full independent inquiry, want a judicial review of the decision to appoint a lawyer to review the case.

Last October, Sir Desmond De Silva was asked by Prime Minister David Cameron to examine the 1989 murder.

His review is expected to be completed at the end of this year.

Owen Paterson, the current secretary of state, has said he believes that the De Silva review is the best mechanism available to “get to the truth”.

“Of all the subjects for inquiry, this is the only one that has had a huge police inquiry, possibly the largest police inquiry in British history,” he said.

“Over a million pages of documents, over 900 personal witness statements and there are actually fewer witnesses alive now to this terrible incident than were available to Saville.

“We want to get to the truth and we believe that it lies in the investigation that has gone on.”

In a previous statement to parliament in October 2011, Mr Patterson said that the government accepted the findings of two previous investigations which found there had been security force collusion in Mr Finucane’s death.


In 2004, the then Northern Ireland secretary of state Paul Murphy announced his intention to hold an inquiry under the new Inquiries Act.

The Finucane family are opposed to the probe being held under this legislation, which they say makes the inquiry accountable to the minister responsible, rather than to parliament.
Michael Finucane and Geraldine Finucane Michael and Geraldine Finucane outside Downing Street following their meeting with David Cameron

Michael Finucane, Pat’s son, said Sir Desmond’s review completely excluded his family from participation.

“We are to be expected, after all this time and all the revelations that have emerged about the murder, to take the government’s word for it,” he said.

“In a nutshell, the murder of Pat Finucane has produced evidence that may implicate the British government in the murder of a solicitor, an officer of the court.

“Who in their right minds would take the government’s word for anything in a case such as that?

“That is the reason why this review is unsatisfactory.

“It’s why we’ve taken court proceedings and it is why we must have a public inquiry, so we, and the public at large can be happy and satisfied and confident that this case has been properly investigated and such a thing shall never happen again.”

Sir Desmond’s review is expected to be completed by December 2012.

12 Jan 2012

The British government’s refusal to hold an inquiry into the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane has been raised by the taoiseach.

Enda Kenny held talks with Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday.

Pat Finucane was shot dead by loyalists in front of his family in 1989

Last November, Mr Kenny called for a full, independent inquiry into the 1989 murder. The British Government has ruled that out, but the Finucane family is challenging that decision.

Mr Kenny said: “Clearly we have a difference of opinion here.”

Mr Finucane was shot dead in his north Belfast home by the loyalist UFF in 1989.

The family wants a full independent inquiry into the murder, which, they believe, was promised by the British government.

However, last October the prime minister told them a review would be conducted by leading QC Desmond de Silva.

Legal action

His review is expected to be completed by December 2012 at a cost of £1.5m.

The Finucanes have now instructed their solicitors to take a judicial review challenging Mr Cameron’s decision. That hearing will take place on Friday.

In 2004, the then Northern Ireland secretary of state Paul Murphy announced his intention to hold an inquiry under the new Inquiries Act.

The Finucane family are opposed to the inquiry being held under this legislation, which they say makes the inquiry accountable to the minister responsible, rather than to parliament.

The family believe there was collusion in the murder.

Commenting on Thursday’s talks, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “They discussed bilateral relations between Ireland and Britain, noting the success of the state visit to Ireland last year by Her Majesty the Queen.

“They agreed to build on this success by work in 2012 to deepen economic partnership.

“They discussed Northern Ireland, and reiterated their commitment to working closely together to ensure safety and prosperity there, including through close cross-border cooperation.”

By Chris Moore
4 Jan 2012
**Via Newshound

**Videos onsite

A BRITISH Government minister stood up in the House of Commons at Westminster in October and admitted that the British State colluded with Loyalist gunmen in the murder of a Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

No doubt a chilling moment of truth delivered by Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson from the Dispatch Box in the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ which was overshadowed at the time by the Finucane family’s angry departure from their Downing Street meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron.

In the House of Commons, Mr Paterson made it clear he was speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister and looking on from the sidelines, former Policing Board vice-chairman Denis Bradley recalls what he describes as a muted response to a startling admission.

“The British Prime Minister, in public, admitted to a criminal action on behalf of his predecessors and everyone rubs their beard,” he told the Detail.

“The question is, is collusion ever going to be investigated because it doesn’t look to me at the moment as if it ever is.”

The British government admission and apology on that October day when they told Geraldine Finucane and her family that there was to be no inquiry into her husband’s killing was misguided if they hoped it would silence the clamour for more precise information about who in government had knowledge of collusion.

It is not enough to simply put up their hands to admit criminality and hope campaigners representing families who lost loved ones to murder involving British agents on both sides of the conflict – be it Freddie Scappaticci on the Republican side or Mark Haddock on the Loyalist side.

Both were paid agents of the State – protected species and who were both involved in all kinds of criminality, including murder. And, of course, there were hundreds of them passing on information to the security services.

Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice campaigns for the truth about the ‘secret war’ and he says the truth applies to both sides of the divide.

“Equally we need the truth about Freddie Scappaticci as we do about Brian Nelson,” he told The Detail, “we will have no double standards on that. Yes both families affected or alleged to be effected by his role equally need this matter dealt with.”

He points out that the issue of suspected collusion arises almost on a daily basis. “It is out there if you pick up the papers in the media if you follow the stories,” he said. “It is every day – it is Claudy, it is Kingsmills, Loughinisland, Ballymurphy, New Lodge 6 – it is Pat Finucane, it is Rosemary Nelson, it is Billy Wright. You know we could go on and on and on…it’s there.”

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory and former leading British policeman Lord Stevens have already implicated the State and its agents in collusion with paramilitaries in murder.

Now Relatives for Justice is campaigning for access to the chain of British command that knew about intelligence agents whether handled by Special Branch or MI5.

Mark Thompson wants to know which State officials charged with protecting the integrity of the State actually turned a blind eye to murder.

To him it is a question of who is culpable. Agents were a dime a dozen, he said, before asking who funded and resourced the intelligence gathering.

He went on: “This was structured and the nature of that structure had to be approved, had to be planned and had to be resourced. And when we start going after agent handlers what we do is very quickly go up that food chain to the people who were part of that process.

“And ultimately now the objective is to protect those agent handlers to prevent that from happening. Sacrifice the loyalists in the dock and keep the immunity and the impunity a live issue for the people who were employed by the State and paid by the State to provide a service protecting the community when in fact they were doing quite the opposite.”

The government’s difficulties in dealing with collusion date back to the beginning of the conflict. But they were certainly compounded in 2007 when the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Nuala O’Loan, presented the world with her damning report into the Mount Vernon UVF gang led by police agent Mark Haddock. Agent Roxy as he was known to his police handlers had been, she reported, involved in at least 10 murders and possibly another five as well.

Bawnmore resident John Flynn met Agent Roxy close up and personal one night in 1992 when the police agent pointed a gun at his head and pulled the trigger. The gun didn’t fire and John Flynn wrestled with Mark Haddock for control of the weapon. He won. Agent Roxy left the scene minus his UVF gun.
Mark Haddock appeared to enjoy special branch protection
Mark Haddock appeared to enjoy special branch protection

And it didn’t end there for John Flynn. Five years later UVF commander Gary Haggarty used his own car in a botched attempt to blow John Flynn to smithereens. The bomb was placed but the bombers were noticed and chased from the estate to the waiting Haggerty.

John Flynn may be unique in that he survived two murder bids by two agents of the State. But whilst he only had suspicions before Nuala O’Loan’s Operation Ballast report was published, she left no one in any doubt that Mount Vernon UVF literally got away with murder.

Mr Flynn told The Detail about the day he listened to Mrs O’Loan’s revealing her report: “I was really devastated when I heard it because nobody actually told me who was responsible for the incident in ‘92 and the incident in ’97. The RUC never came to tell me how any investigating was going. Nothing, they told me absolutely nothing. And then all of a sudden out of the blue she produces this report.”

But like many others visited by the dark shadow of the Mount Vernon UVF during a campaign of murder that left 20 grieving families, John Flynn has been left devastated by the State’s failure to honour the promise it made in the aftermath of the O’Loan report.

His solicitor is Kevin Winters. Mr Winters told The Detail: “The position as I understand it is that Nuala O’Loan’s, in my view, groundbreaking investigation uncovered allegations of collusion involving paramilitaries and the security forces. Pursuant to that there was a requirement on the part of the investigative authorities to commence a meaningful investigation into those allegations of collusion.”

At the time, the then Chief Constable Hugh Orde accepted the findings of the O’Loan report’s recommendation 34.1 which reads:

“This investigation has shown that within the UVF in North Belfast and Newtownabbey there was a network of informants, some of whom held senior positions. There should be a thorough investigation of all crimes whith which those informants have been associated, in the course of which PSNI should re-interview the Secial Branch handlers and controllers who are responsible for them. These officers may have further information about the informants’ criminal offences, which has not been officially documented. Any indication of criminal behaviour by a serving or retired officer which emerges in the course of the PSNI investigations which are initiated, following this Report by the Police Ombudsman, should be referred to the Police Ombudsman for investigation.”

The O’Loan report began after a complaint to her by Raymond McCord that his son was murdered on the orders of UVF leader and police agent Mark Haddock.

Hugh Orde’s response was unequivocal :

“This recommendation is accepted and its implementation is already underway. The Historical Enquiries Team became operational in January 2006. The McCord case was one of the first cases to be given to HET to re-examine, at the direction of the Chief Constable. (This was under one of the exemption criteria from the normal chronological process, as a matter of serious public interest). When HET examines a case, it also looks at others linked to it. The McCord case is one of those examined in this report, and is linked to a number of other incidents. HET will be undertaking a thorough re-examination of these cases contemporaneously because of linking factors. The HET has a good relationship with the Officer of the Police Ombudsman, including regular meetings between senior colleagues. A protocol exists for the referral or relevant matters to the Office of the Police Ombudsman from HET if investigations uncover evidence that points to the involvement of police officers in serious crime.”

So far, so good, according to campaigning solicitor Kevin Winters. But then: “There was something of a convoluted history of this situation in that it was left to the Chief Constable who in turn referred it , quite understandably in my view, to the HET. They dealt with the matter and had commenced a significant investigation and then at a later stage it was transferred from them to a particular section of the PSNI.”

And the fact that the PSNI is currently in charge of the case and has been for some time has upset the families according to John Flynn.

He thinks the decision to remove the HET was a retrograde step: “I think the HET was about to expose things and what they were…maybe gonna interview ex-RUC in relation to this here. Maybe arrest them…I don’t know. But they were about to do something. And then they [PSNI] stepped in and just took it off them.”

As far as Kevin Winters is concerned there’s good reason to be concerned. His view is that the transfer from HET to PSNI caused a “high degree of anxiety and concern on the part of the families who had already been through a significant and trying ordeal over a number of years in terms of trying to get information, the background to the killing of their loved ones.”

He added: “And the central tenet running through the Operation Ballast report rested on allegations of collusion involving members of the security forces so there was a certain perception on one view that it didn’t add up or it didn’t square at all with many families to find that there was a certain assessment that that essentially was the police investigating the police.”

Mark Thompson says he was deeply disturbed by the responses he got at a meeting with a senior officer from the PSNI’s C2 Serious Crime Unit. Operation Ballast became Operation Stafford when the PSNI took it over.

Mr Thompson says he accompanied a number of families to a meeting with Garry Eaton, the then PSNI’s Senior Investigating Officer [SIO] involved in the Operation Stafford investigation.

He told the Detail: “During the course of a 20-minute private meeting with the family who lost two relatives to this gang he told myself and the family he was not interesting in examining the role of police officers whatsoever.

“The conversation came around to us putting to him that if he came across a police officer that was committing a criminal act, engaged in wrong-doing or had information that could have prevented the loss of life and didn’t act or protected a person who was an agent involved in murder, what would he do with that?

“And he stopped us and said ‘I want to make it crystal clear I am not looking at police officers, I am only interested in terrorism and criminality.’”

The PSNI told The Detail that no one was above the law but pointed out that the police did not investigate police – that was the job of the Police Ombudsman.

Referring to the meeting as described by Mr Thompson a PSNI statement said: “It would be wrong to interpret any comments made by police at the meeting referred to as suggesting a lack of concern about police conduct or criminality. The PSNI investigation into a series of murders and other serious crimes by the UVF in north Belfast has been extensive, following on from work initiated by the Ombudsman and then progressed by the Historical Enquiries Team.

“A criminal trial is currently in progress at Belfast Crown Court. It is important to remember that other linked investigations are continuing. In the interests of clarity and fairness, police can give a categorical assurance that any individual suspected of criminality will be investigated, regardless of their occupation, either by PSNI, or if appropriate, by OPONI.”

That statement is unlikely to assure Mr Thompson and the families he represents. They say the Ombudsman’s office is no longer fit for purpose and that it is incapable of investigating collusion. They also believe that having disabled the Police Ombudsman’s office following the devastating O’Loan report, such comments from the PSNI are just part of the process of having no State institution prepared to take ownership of the requirement to investigate State collusion in murder as recommended in 2007 by an official State-approved body, the Police Ombudsman’s office for Northern Ireland.

Mark Thompson has no doubt he has heard that before but continues to demand to know who in the security services knew about terrorism and criminality involving informants and agents of the State but turned a blind eye and how far up the chain of command did the knowledge go?

Mr Thompson referred to the recent experience of the Finucane family in Downing Street. He said: “Very powerful forces are at play in Mi5 and PSNI, C2 intelligence and we need to look at their whole issue of legacy and their alleged involvement in many multiple incidents that happened in which people were killed.

“They are hiding the policy objective that was collusion because it went so high. So in terms of the British Government, they need to protect the people who directed the agent handlers, the managers of the agent handlers because very quickly it goes up the food chair into government and cabinet office.”

Relatives for Justice supports the call made by Lord Eames and Denis Bradley for an independent investigative legacy unit that has an international oversight person to look at it.

Today Denis Bradley warns of difficult days ahead if the issue is not dealt with by the British and Irish governments. He says the governments are detached from the issue because they want local politicians to learn how to govern without interference. But he feels local politicians lack the maturity to manage the legacy of the past.

So, in his opinion, there’s a danger of creating a festering sore that’s unlikely to derail the process of peace but that will cause community division and disruption.

As far as the issue of Cabinet knowledge of what was being done in the name of the State to protect the integrity of the State, Denis Bradley is undecided.

“I have been briefed on a lot of this stuff,” the former vice-chairman of the Policing Board told The Detail, “and I couldn’t make a final judgment on that but I would make the final judgment that horrendous things happened; that the state allowed to happen.

“Whether every Prime Minister or every cabinet minister knew about it is a grey area, but certainly things happened that were quite horrendous… and that the Prime Minister of Great Britain has now said happened… em so the past is not going away very fast, it is dripping into the present, we’re managing to hold it together and keep it going but I think it keeps souring relationships at many levels, and it leaves a lot of people very disturbed and very determined to keep after this until they get to that place were they think their justice or their truth lies.”

He said that that understandable pursuit of the truth must accept the historical differences between the paramilitaries and the State. Paramilitaries do not keep records he said and so the truth is that the real records for the State and for the paramilitaries exists with the State.

He went on: “If you want to find out about Scapatecci you are not going to find out about Scapatecci through the IRA because they didn’t know. The people who know about Scapatecci exist on the State side. Whatever Special Branch knew, whatever MI5 knew. Whoever ran him knows, whatever records are held on that.

“So when people say, what about bringing in the records on the paramilitaries, you can’t bring the paramilitaries in the way you can bring the State in. And the State holds the treasure of those memories on all sides and that’s where the State becomes important not to beat up the State but because they are the holders of those memories.”

However, with the lack of appetite to investigate the past within the institutions of the State, the only way those with a thirst for knowledge of how the State was involved in the terrorism and the criminality of the conflict are left with just one course of action – the courts of the land.

John Flynn has just lodged papers seeking a judicial review. This follows the revelation to Relatives for Justice by the PSNI that is no current investigation into collusion as recommended by Nuala O’Loan in 2007.

There’s mention in the court papers that the Chief Constable Matt Baggot told Mark Thompson in response to a Freedom of Information request that there are no specific terms of reference for the PSNI’s investigation of Operation Stafford.

John Flynn’s legal position is that he holds the PSNI responsible for the failure to investigate properly the allegations of collusion as recommended by Nuala O’Loan and as promised by the previous Chief Constable Hugh Orde.

As it is stated in his affidavit to the court, Mr Flynn says: “I do not accept that the Chief Constable of the PSNI can simple indicate that when it comes to implementing 34.1 of Ballast he has no remit or control. It is completely wrong and unsatisfactory for him to defer the matter to the Police Ombudsman knowing full well that the Ombudsman has not commenced a meaningful investigation into collusion to date nor is there any likelihood that he will do so in the foreseeable future.

“In the meantime further delay has arisen and time is passing which in turn creates huge prejudice with regard to the investigation leads against those members of the security forces who were actively involved in collusion with those who tried to kill me.”

Kevin Winters says this request for the court to make an intervention and make the necessary orders to compel the PSNI to implement recommendation 34.1 of the O’Loan report is a weapon of last resort.

“At at the core of the case is the failure to address Section 34.1 of Operation Ballast which is the investigation of alleged collusion in terms of criminality between members of the security forces and paramilitaries,” he says.

“The fact that we are left in my view with the last alternative of accessing the courts to try to get justice for Mr Flynn and indeed others is in my view already a sense of defeat because the institutions set up to deal with this type of sensitive issue have in fact failed. We have no alternative, reluctantly albeit, to ask the courts to intervene and give this issue some serious direction.”

And the legal route is what the Finucane family now find themselves taking as well in spite of being promised an inquiry by previous British governments.

That’s a lamentable position for families to find themselves in according to Denis Bradley.

The British and Irish governments have people with the maturity to deal with this but, he says, “the two governments have other things on their plates, and have other interests so they’re not going to do it, so we’re caught in the worst of worlds, where there is no forum for this, there is no political dynamic for this.

“And I do think that the people who want the answers will just continue to fight it through the courts. And I think that’s unfortunate, it’s bad for the courts, it’s bad for the police in my opinion, it’s bad for the Ombudsman’s office, it’s bad for the victims themselves, and it’s… it’s not the right way.”

Mark Thompson shares the view that the legal route is punitive and inflicts further pain on families already suffering. He says a centralized process is necessary to manage the legacy of the past.

He said: “We had that notion of that through the legacy commission proposed by Lord Eames and Denis Bradley and we need to get back to that otherwise we will be dealing with this for years. The effect of it on society will be somewhat negative. It will pollute civil society, communities and the body politic as how we try to move forward particularly if the issue of victimhood is politicised in the Assembly and that’s why we need to step back.”

But Denis Bradley has identified another dynamic in the lack of enthusiasm for disclosure of the State’s intelligence led involvement in the conflict. He says retired police officers exercise a strong influence because of past historical mistrust of MI5.

“I mean there are tensions here between people who are retired officers of the RUC and the British State because one of the fears is that former RUC and particularly Special Branch people had and have is that the British State is quite happy to dump the blame on them,” he said.

Mr Bradley said the local police have described to him the existence of what they termed, “the other room.” That’s a reference to the often unseen influence and work of British security services and their political masters.

He believes the former RUC officers, and particularly Special Branch officers, fear history will judge them alone as being the instruments of collusion.

“And therefore these people feel they were being used and abused to some degree,” said Mr Bradley. They are convinced there is a very real danger that the sins of the past will be thrust upon them alone. In other words, history will judge them as the real baddies.

They feel, according to Denis Bradley: “That while the IRA were terrible over there, the UVF over there…the real baddies were the RUC and Special Branch. They are saying excuse us – we were not always fully in control; we were not fully in charge; we didn’t make the policy decisions…there was this other room. And quite often if we, in Special Branch, were holding material from our colleagues in the police, MI5 were equally holding information from us and the Mi5, the military intelligence were quite often running agents we knew little about.”

The former Policing Board vice chairman told The Detail this created two versions of history: “I think that’s a very interesting history if anybody ever got to it – was there another room? MI5 claim there was no other room. The politicians claim there was no other room.

“I’m inclined to be on the side of the RUC retired officers on that one. I think there was other rooms at times when things got rough.”

An ex-Army intelligence officer can give evidence openly in London but not in Dublin. Just what are the authorities afraid of? Henry McDonald reports

Belfast Telegraph
Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Two public inquiries on either side of the Irish Sea – the same witness speaking openly at one and being gagged at the other. This is the Kafkaesque scenario facing the former Army intelligence officer Ian Hurst.

At the start of last week, Hurst gave open, public evidence in front of the Leveson inquiry in London, which is investigating press standards following the phone hacking scandals last summer.

The ex-member of the Army’s secretive Force Research Unit (FRU) had been the target of phone and computers hackers working for News International.

Hurst’s evidence concerned the hacking of his computer using a so-called ‘Trojan’ virus after he had been outed as a whistleblower.

Hurst is famous (or notorious) for providing critical information on two scandals involving the security forces during the Troubles: the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane and the exposé of the agent known as Stakeknife operating within the IRA.

Among others Hurst provided evidence of how most of the UDA unit involved in murdering Finucane in front of his family were working for one or more branch of the security forces at the time.

In relation to the revelation that Freddie Scappaticci – the IRA’s chief spy hunter – was himself a long-term British agent, Hurst played a central role in bringing this to light.

Given his background and knowledge of the undercover war against the IRA and loyalists (which often entailed the morally dubious practice of allowing state agents to commit crimes up to and including murder), Hurst became the focus of attention by the News of the World.

Essentially, this meant spying on Hurst, ironically using a former colleague in the now-disbanded FRU to infiltrate and read the ex-soldier’s email system – presumably to glean what he was saying to journalists, politicians, human rights organisations and campaign groups about the Stakeknife scandal.

During his testimony to Leveson Hurst repeated allegations aired a few months earlier in the BBC’s Panorama programme about how the Irish end of the News of the World had spied on him illegally.

Hurst is convinced that such practices – directed not only at himself, but also at the likes of former Labour Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain – posed a serious threat to both national security and the security of individuals working in the twilight world of intelligence.

For those in the Republic observing another tribunal currently running in Dublin, the contrast between Hurst speaking freely and unfettered was glaring.

Hurst wants to give evidence in person to the Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin, which is exploring how the Provisional IRA killed RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan in 1989.

The inquiry is investigating allegations a garda mole provided the IRA with information to target the two police officers for murder. Yet Hurst has been told he can only deliver his testimony in Dublin behind closed doors, away from the media and the public.

Hurst claims to have evidence of Stakeknife’s role in the Breen/Buchanan killing and how the murder-plot was known to the highest-ranking members of the IRA and Sinn Fein at the time.

This he contends, is due to the fact that Stakeknife was also aware of the plan to ambush and kill the policemen on the Louth/south Armagh border.

In turn, Hurst has refused to go to Dublin unless he is allowed to speak in the open and under the scrutiny of the media like every other witness.

He has stated he believes the tribunal’s refusal to let him do so is politically motivated; that this reticence flows from the official policy of protecting key figures in the Northern Ireland peace process. There is a further contrast between the strictures the Smithwick Tribunal wishes to impose on Hurst and the way it treated other recent witnesses – no more so than the founder of the Real IRA, Michael McKevitt.

The inquiry even moved out of its usual location in Dublin’s Blackhall Place to another location close by to hear McKevitt’s evidence – the Republic’s heavily-guarded Special Criminal Court, where terrorist trials have been heard since the Troubles erupted.

McKevitt was the Provisional IRA’s so-called ‘quartermaster-general’ at the time of the Breen-Buchanan murders and lived in the north Louth area not far from Dundalk Garda Station.

He was a leading figure in the Provisionals in the late-1980s and would have had knowledge of many IRA operations in the border region.

Under the glare of the gathered media in open court, the convicted Real IRA member was cross-examined over allegations that he benefited from Garda tip-offs about raids on his home and that, implicitly, he and the local Provisionals had some ‘friendly’ police officers in the frontier zone.

The brother-in-law of the IRA icon Bobby Sands was afforded the opportunity to strongly deny such collusion existed which, of course, goes to the heart of Smithwick’s investigation.

However, an Army intelligence officer who ran operations to counter the activities of McKevitt and his ilk is offered no such opportunity to speak in public. This begs an important question in relation to the whole nature of the Troubles’ secret war: just what are the authorities in Dublin afraid of in regard to Hurst talking in public under privilege?

By Steven McCaffery
Wednesday December 07 2011

The British Government is to face a legal challenge over its failure to launch a public inquiry into security force collusion in the murder of Northern Ireland solicitor Pat Finucane, it has emerged.

Relatives of the Belfast solicitor are to seek a judicial review of David Cameron’s decision that Sir Desmond de Silva QC should instead review the papers on the case.

Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine stormed out of Downing Street when informed of the Government plan in October and has now confirmed her intention to launch a challenge in the High Court in Belfast next week.

Secretary of State Owen Paterson apologised at Westminster for the state’s collusion in the 1989 killing in which Mr Finucane was shot 14 times by gunmen from the loyalist Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in front of his wife and three children.

During talks on the peace process in 2001 the government of the day entered into an agreement with the Irish government to hold inquiries into allegations that their respective security forces were linked to a number of notorious murder cases, including the Finucane killing.

The Finucane family said that having considered their options, they were now to mount a legal challenge.

Ms Finucane said: “Not for the first time have we had to resort to legal proceedings to vindicate our legal rights.

“It is clear that the British Government have cynically reneged on the commitment made.

“The Cameron decision is also incompatible with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to life).

“We take the view that the decision not to hold a public judicial inquiry is just another obstacle which we will have to overcome.

“We are determined to get to the truth surrounding my husband’s murder. Our campaign will continue.”

The legal papers will be lodged in the High Court within days and a date for hearing will be sought.

In the wake of the Weston Park talks, it was eventually agreed that the Westminster government would conduct inquiries into four cases, while the Irish government would hold one inquiry.

All have been held, except the proposed probe into the Finucane case.

It is now known that many of those involved in the murder were agents of the state, but the family has said they want to find out who sanctioned the killing and to expose the full extent of the plot.

Mr Finucane was 39 when he was shot 14 times by the UDA gunmen as he was eating dinner.

His family have campaigned for a full public inquiry since the attack, and his widow has said she felt insulted after Mr Cameron proposed the QC-led review of her husband’s death.

Given Mr Finucane’s high-profile status as a lawyer who had successfully represented clients facing allegations of IRA activity, the claims of a security force role in the murder quickly emerged.

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, asked by the British and Irish governments to examine the allegations of collusion following the Weston Park deal, recommended a public inquiry into the death.

A separate report by former Met commissioner Lord John Stevens in 2003 also said there was collusion.

7 Dec 2011

The family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane are to legally challenge David Cameron’s decision not to hold a public inquiry into the 1989 killing.

Mr Finucane was shot in his north Belfast home by the loyalist UFF.

The family wants a full independent inquiry into the murder, which they believe was promised by the British government.

However, in October the prime minister told them a review would be conducted by leading QC Desmond de Silva.

The Finucanes have now instructed their solicitors to take a judicial review challenging Mr Cameron’s decision.

The legal papers will be lodged in the High Court in Belfast next week when a date for hearing will be sought.

‘Cynically reneged’

On Wednesday, Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine said: “Not for the first time have we had to resort to legal proceedings to vindicate our legal rights.

“It is clear that the British government have cynically reneged on the commitment made at Weston Park (by previous prime minister Tony Blair).

“We take the view that the decision not to hold a public judicial inquiry is just another obstacle which we will have to overcome.

“We are determined to get to the truth surrounding my husband’s murder. Our campaign will continue.”

In 2004, the then Northern Ireland secretary of state Paul Murphy announced his intention to hold an inquiry under the new Inquiries Act.

The Finucane family are opposed to the probe being held under this legislation, which they say makes the inquiry accountable to the minister responsible, rather than to parliament.

The family believe there was collusion in the murder.
Wednesday November 30 2011

Tensions between Northern Ireland and the Republic could be heightened by a recent visit and action of the Irish prime minister, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has warned in the Commons.

Belfast North MP Nigel Dodds welcomed movements by the Northern Ireland Office to “draw a line under” the Finucane issue.

But, at Northern Ireland questions, he warned: “Do you agree the decision of the Irish prime minister Enda Kenny to come to Northern Ireland last week and seek to reopen this issue and launch an international campaign is deeply unhelpful to north-south relations and, in fact, invites comparisons to his attitude to neuter the Smithwick Inquiry investigations into the deaths of RUC officers?”

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said: “The review into the Finucane case is going ahead. That is the decision of this Government and we believe it is the right decision. We inherited impasse from the previous government calling for an inquiry.

“We know there are strong feelings in Dublin on this issue and we have said privately and publicly we will recognise they will state those differences publicly, but I would assure you we will not let this issue damage in any way the excellent relations we have with the government in Dublin.”

Belfast Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane was killed by loyalist paramilitaries on February 12 1989. Two public investigations concluded that there was British state collusion in the murder and Mr Paterson issued an official apology earlier this year.

It was announced last month that a planned public inquiry into the affair is to be replaced by a review instead.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile


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