01 December 2020 14:30
But its establishment was delayed on two fronts - the prosecution of Ken Barrett, identified by the Stevens' Inquiry as the gunmen's getaway driver, who had been recruited as a police informer after the murder - and new legislation covering public inquiries, which allowed ministers to restrict evidence. The family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane say the government's decision not to hold a public inquiry is an "insult". Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told the Commons on Monday there would be no public inquiry into Mr Finucane's death "at this time". "The British government at every opportunity will continue to make the wrong decision and put all their efforts into ensuring that the truth of what happened to my father will not see the light of day and they are intent on suppressing that." The decision comes after a court judgment found there was a failure to hold an "effective investigation" into his death at the hands of loyalist paramilitaries. Mr Finucane, a 39-year-old solicitor who represented both republican and loyalist paramilitaries during the Troubles, was shot dead in his family home in north Belfast in February 1989.
Mr Finucane's son Michael said his family is "disappointed" but "not surprised" at the decision. Speaking following a virtual call with Mr Lewis, Michael said: "I think we were quite angered and exasperated at the secretary of state's conclusion in the matter because he has proposed that the case is to be resolved by way of an investigation carried out by local police in Northern Ireland. Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine and the couple's three children have been pushing for decades for a public inquiry, which they hope can establish the extent of security force involvement. The court noted Mrs Finucane had been given an "unequivocal undertaking" by the government following the 2001 Weston Park agreement that there would be a public inquiry into the murder. Image: Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis announced the news in the Commons on Monday afternoon.
The Secretary of State has showed us today that the attack is continuing,' Pat Finucane's widow Geraldine said in a statement. In a ruling in 2019, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom concluded that the original investigation into the murder of Mr Finucane was ineffective and failed to meet the normal standards required under subsequent human rights legislation but could not order a public inquiry lest it overstep its judicial independence from the government. He said it was 'plain that the levels of collusion in the Finucane case, made clear by previous investigations, are totally unacceptable'. The government's position and refusal to proceed with an inquiry at this stage hinges on the decision by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to begin a review process into the murder alongside a police ombudsman. 'I am not taking the possibility of a public inquiry off the table at this stage, but it is important we allow ongoing PSNI and police ombudsman processes to move forward,' he said.
The family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane have accused the UK Government of adding "yet another insult to a deep and lasting injury" by refusing to hold a public inquiry into his killing. "There is only one reason to ask the local police to investigate a case that involves the British Army, the security services, and former members of Government — that reason is to ensure they will remain untouchable," the solicitor's widow said. Nationalist parties blasted the decision announced by Secretary of State Brandon Lewis in the House of Commons on Monday evening, but it was welcomed by unionist parties. Mr Lewis said he was not "taking the possibility of a public inquiry off the table" but it was important to let the PSNI and Police Ombudsman processes run their course. Sinn Fein MP John Finucane, who was eight when his father was murdered, said Mr Lewis's decision beggars belief. "The British Government at every opportunity will continue to make the wrong decision and put all their efforts into ensuring that the truth of what happened to my father will not see the light of day and they are intent on suppressing that." Mrs Finucane told UTV that the Government was continuously delaying in the hope that she would die and demands for a public inquiry disappear. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood accused Mr Lewis of "failing miserably" to do right by the Finucane family and said he should be ashamed of his actions. "The decision to renege on the decades-old commitment to hold a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane is a disgraceful attempt by this Government to bury the truth," he said. Mr Wilson later tweeted: "It is a great pity that the Government have not unequivocally ruled out a future public inquiry into the murder of the IRA's solicitor of choice. UUP MLA Doug Beattie condemned the Finucane murder but welcomed the decision not to hold a public inquiry. Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry MP described the decision not to hold a public inquiry as "poor". She said: "The British Government has no intention of holding a public inquiry.