Taoiseach urges May to do 'the right thing' and hold Finucane murder inquiry

The Taoiseach has urged Theresa May to do the "honourable thing" and hold a public inquiry into the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane.

The Supreme Court in London ruled on Wednesday that there has been no "effective investigation" into Mr Finucane's murder and that previous inquiries had not complied with the Finucane family's human rights.

Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his family in February 1989 by loyalists in an attack which an official report later concluded had involved collusion with the UK state.

The 39-year-old was shot 14 times while enjoying Sunday lunch at home with his family.

Mrs Finucane claimed the Government unlawfully "reneged" on a promise to hold a public inquiry into the killing - one of the most notorious of the Troubles - when former prime minister David Cameron instead ordered an independent review by former war crimes lawyer Desmond de Silva QC.

His review concluded that there had been collusion between the killers and the state and Mr Cameron later apologised.

During Leader's Question's on Wednesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was asked by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald whether he would ask his UK counterpart to hold an inquiry to address what she labelled "one of the many broken commitments of the peace process".

Mr Varadkar hailed the family of Mr Finucane.

"I never had the opportunity to meet Pat Finucane, but I've read about him, I know he was an honourable man, a lawyer and human rights activist - long before people even used that term.

"I had the opportunity in recent weeks to meet with Geraldine Finucane and her family," Mr Varadkar said.

"Geraldine made a real impression on me, particularly her dignity and steely resilience seeking justice and truth for three decades now."

Mr Varadkar said: "The position of the Irish government is that the British government should now honour its commitment to now carry out a public inquiry in accordance with the inquiries act, into the murder of Pat Finucane.

"The British Government should keep the promise made by Prime Minister Cameron back in Weston Park in 2001 (Mr Varadkar later corrected the record that this was Tony Blair), and accept the judgment made by the Supreme Court today.

"It is the honourable thing to do, the right thing to do, and I believe the British government should do that.

"I will certainly be raising it in my meetings with the Prime Minister."

He concluded his answer by stating: "I will be pressing my counterpart Theresa May to honour the commitment made by her forebear."

The Supreme Court ruled that the de Silva review was not compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which required the investigation to be provided with "the means where, if they can be, suspects are identified and, if possible, brought to account".

But the court also found that, while Mrs Finucane had been given "an unequivocal undertaking" that there would be a public inquiry into the murder, the UK Government was justified in later deciding against holding one.

Digital Desk

Earlier: 'A great result for our family', says son of murdered Belfast solicitor

By Vivienne Clarke

“This was a great result today for our family,” John Finucane told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.

“It was very emotional for all of us. It is an enormous relief for my mother, it has given all of us a boost.”

He said that the UK Supreme Court’s decision has “blown out of the water” the results of the De Silva review. The British government has “run out of road” and will “finally have to do the right thing.”

Mr Finucane denied that Brexit would have an impact on the obligation of the British government under Article Two to investigate all the facts of his father’s murder.

The British government finally needs to deal with this case and do the right thing.

He said that the family is more used to setbacks than to success, “this has been an enormous lift to my family.” He added that public support “spurs us on.”

The decision was not just about the murder of Pat Finucane, he said. There are many other families who also deserve full accountability.

“This case goes to the heart of the British establishment and the deaths of so many people. The question now is will Downing Street do the right thing?”

However, he did caution that the longer the delay the greater the risk to the credibility of any inquiry as witnesses may have passed away.

Previous investigations and reports into his father’s death did not meet their obligations, he said.

The family now anticipates engagement with the British government.

Family of murdered Pat Finucane lose UK Supreme Court challenge over inquiry

The family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane has lost a Supreme Court challenge over the decision not to hold a public inquiry into his killing, but won a declaration that an effective investigation into his death has not been carried out.

Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his family in February 1989 by loyalists in an attack found to have involved collusion with the state.

The 39-year-old was shot 14 times while enjoying Sunday lunch at home with his family.

His widow Geraldine claimed the Government unlawfully “reneged” on a promise to hold a public inquiry into the killing – one of the most notorious of the Troubles – when former prime minister David Cameron instead ordered an independent review.

Pat Finucane was shot dead in front of his family in February 1989 (PA)

An investigation by former UN war crimes prosecutor Sir Desmond de Silva QC found “shocking” levels of state collusion involving the army, police and MI5, but ruled out an “overarching state conspiracy”.

On Wednesday, just over 30 years on from her husband’s murder, the Supreme Court in London ruled that Mrs Finucane had been given “an unequivocal undertaking to hold a public inquiry into Mr Finucane’s death”, but that the “change of heart on the part of the government” was made in good faith.

Giving the judgment of the court, Lord Kerr found that the decision not to hold a public inquiry into the murder was a matter for the Government’s “political judgment”.

He also dismissed Mrs Finucane’s contention that the decision was predetermined, stating: “There is simply no sustainable evidence that the process by which the decision was taken was a sham or that the outcome was predetermined.”

But the court also ruled that the de Silva review was not compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which required the investigation to be provided with “the means where, if they can be, suspects are identified and, if possible, brought to account”.

Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine claimed the Government unlawfully “reneged” on a promise to hold a public inquiry into his killing (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Lord Kerr declared that there has not been an effective investigation into Mr Finucane’s murder, but added: “It does not follow that a public inquiry of the type which (Mrs Finucane) seeks must be ordered.

“It is for the state to decide… what form of investigation, if indeed any is now feasible, is required in order to meet that requirement.”

At a hearing in June, Barry Macdonald QC said Mr Finucane was a victim of “a policy of systemic extra-judicial execution that was as cynical and sinister as can be imagined”.

He told the Supreme Court that “loyalist terrorist organisations were infiltrated, resourced and manipulated in order to murder individuals identified by the army and the police as suitable for assassination”.

Mr Macdonald said this policy was “widened” to include lawyers such as Mr Finucane, who represented a number of high-profile republicans.

He concluded: “The police, the army and the security service, MI5, are all implicated in a policy that entailed identifying lawyers with their clients and legitimising them as targets for assassination.”

He added: “In other words, state-sponsored terrorism.”

- Press Association

UK supreme court to rule on case brought by family of murderer Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane

The UK's highest court is set to rule on a legal challenge brought by the family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

Mr Finucane was killed in February 1989 by loyalists in an attack found to have involved collusion with the state.

The 39-year-old was shot 14 times while enjoying Sunday lunch at home with his family.

His widow Geraldine claims the Government unlawfully "reneged" on a promise to hold a public inquiry into the killing, which was one of the most notorious of the Troubles.

Former British prime minister David Cameron decided not to hold a public inquiry into the murder, but instead ordered an investigation by former UN war crimes prosecutor Desmond de Silva QC.

Mr de Silva found "shocking" levels of state collusion involving the Army, police and MI5 but ruled out an "overarching state conspiracy", prompting Mrs Finucane to describe it as a "whitewash".

In February 2017, Mrs Finucane lost at the Court of Appeal in Belfast when three judges dismissed her case that Mr Cameron's decision to reject a public inquiry was unlawful.

On Wednesday morning, just over 30 years on from her husband's murder, the Supreme Court in London will rule on the latest round of Mrs Finucane's long legal battle.

At a hearing in June, Barry Macdonald QC said Mr Finucane was a victim of "a policy of systemic extra-judicial execution that was as cynical and sinister as can be imagined".

He told a panel of five justices, including the court's president Lady Hale, that "loyalist terrorist organisations were infiltrated, resourced and manipulated in order to murder individuals identified by the Army and the police as suitable for assassination".

Mr Macdonald added: "In other words, state-sponsored terrorism."

He said this policy was "widened" to include lawyers such as Mr Finucane, who represented a number of high-profile republicans.

Mr Macdonald concluded: "The police, the Army and the security service MI5 are all implicated in a policy that entailed identifying lawyers with their clients and legitimising them as targets for assassination."

James Eadie QC, representing the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, told the Supreme Court that the lower courts which considered the case had correctly concluded that the decision-making process relating to the public inquiry was a "thorough, genuine and lawful" one.

At an event in Belfast to mark the 30th anniversary of Mr Finucane's murder earlier this month, his son John said his father had been killed to silence other human rights lawyers.

He said: "It was a deliberate decision to kill him, to silence other lawyers and prevent them from doing that type of work.

"What we see now is a generation coming through with lawyers, people wanting their human rights.

"I think that is very much a legacy of Pat Finucane and what he stands for and represents.

"That gives me enormous pride. While they did silence him, they could not have made a bigger mess of it if they tried.

"The name reverberates around the world and an enormous amount of credit for that is due to my mother."

PA

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