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Report on Murder of Pat Finucane (Continued)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams] The de Silva review into Pat Finucane's death in February 1989 concludes that there was no overarching state conspiracy but accepts there was collusion by British state agencies. It could not have done otherwise. The review is not acceptable to Pat's family who have described it as a sham and a whitewash. It is not acceptable to Sinn Féin. Three members of our party were killed during the period in question, as well as 11 family members of party activists. Today David Cameron sought to use the review as a pretext for denying the family a public inquiry.

The report reveals some of the extent to which there was collusion, but it does not diminish the need for a public inquiry. On the contrary, it makes such an inquiry more necessary than ever. Collusion was a matter of institutional and administrative practice by successive British Governments. It involved the establishment of Unionist paramilitary groups, the systematic infiltration by British agencies of all Unionist death squads at the highest levels, the control and direction of these groups, the arming and training of their members and the provision of information on people to be killed. In Pat's case, all of those involved in the killing, from the person who ordered it to those who carried it out and provided the necessary information, worked for the British Government.

At Weston Park the British agreed with the Irish Government to invite Judge Peter Cory to determine the need for an inquiry. He concluded that an inquiry was warranted, but the British Government has refused to implement his recommendation. This is a direct repudiation of the agreement between the Government here and the Government in London. The Irish Government should have prevented this, or at least spoken out more clearly about it. The role of successive Governments in this issue has not been as helpful, strategic or consistent as it could have been. The Finucane family wants the truth and a public inquiry. The Irish Government should go beyond simply supporting the family's demand to launch a diplomatic offensive in the USA and Europe and at the United Nations to highlight British obstruction and seek international support for a public inquiry.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Some 23 years ago Pat Finucane was brutally murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his wife, Geraldine, and three children, Michael, Catherine and John. Geraldine has since campaigned tirelessly to get to the truth about her husband's murder. Along the way she has had to endure the frustration of seeing evidence destroyed, justice obstructed and her husband's reputation impugned. Although a very private person, she has taken on a public role and fulfilled that role with dignity and integrity. With quiet determination she has focused not only on the two men who broke into her house that Sunday evening to murder her husband but also on those behind them who orchestrated the murder. Officials from the Irish Embassy assisted Geraldine and her family in London today as they heard Prime Minister Cameron acknowledge the extent of collusion by British security forces in her husband's murder and apologise to her and her family.

Pat Finucane was one of more than 3,500 people to die during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Every man, woman and child who died left behind relatives and friends who mourn the loss of their loved ones to this day. However, the murder of Pat Finucane stands out from most other cases in one particular and important respect. It was one of a number of cases which gave rise to allegations of collusion by the security forces in each jurisdiction and which, therefore, had profound implications for public confidence and, consequently, the wider peace process. It was not the only such case. The murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen, Superintendent Bob Buchanan, Lord Justice and Lady Gibson, Robert Hamill, Rosemary Nelson and Billy Wright all gave rise to concerns about collusion. It was because of their wider implications for confidence that these cases were a particular concern for the British and Irish Governments at Weston Park in 2001. Arising from their discussions, the two Governments agreed to appoint a judge of international standing from outside either jurisdiction to undertake a thorough investigation of these cases and, in the event that a public inquiry was recommended, to implement that recommendation. Following a thorough investigation of the allegations, Judge Peter Cory recommended a public inquiry into five of the six cases. On foot of his recommendation, the Smithwick tribunal was established by resolutions of Dáil and Seanad Éireann in 2005 and is continuing its work.

We should acknowledge that the Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, has shown commendable determination to get to the truth of what happened in the past and, in doing so, hold the UK state to the highest account and judge its officers by the highest standards. His apology to Mrs. Finucane continues the process of healing that he set in train so memorably with his statement to the UK Parliament on the publication in June 2010 of the Saville report on Bloody Sunday. The report published today is a lengthy one and bears close reading and serious study. The picture revealed by the Prime Minister is, as he has noted, truly shocking. I respect the frankness and honesty with which he confronted grievous failures by the British army, the RUC and ministries. This is not an easy task for the leader of a country which takes great pride in its security forces and civil service. He acknowledged the systematic leaking by security services to the UDA and paramilitary groups; the failure by the RUC to act on threat intelligence; the involvement by paid agents of the state in the murder of Pat Finucane; the systematic failure to investigate and arrest west Belfast UDA agents involved in the murder; the systematic attempts by the police and the army to disrupt and thwart investigations; and the deliberate misleading of Ministers by officials. It is a matter of public record that the Irish Government disagreed strongly with the decision by the British Government last year to conduct a review rather than an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and the lack of consultation in advance of that decision. Our disagreement was born of a belief that public confidence was best served by an inquiry in which the process of getting to the truth was open to scrutiny in order that the findings were put beyond doubt. We are mindful of Judge Cory's concern that, where doubts persist, myths and misconceptions may proliferate. This view was underpinned by an all-party motion passed by this House in 2006 which recalled the Weston Park agreement, took note of Judge Cory's findings on collusion, commended the Finucane family for its courageous campaign and called for the immediate establishment of a fully independent, public judicial inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, as recommended by Judge Cory. Such an inquiry would enjoy the full co-operation of the family and the wider community throughout Ireland and abroad. We can build on the progress made today. The work undertaken by Desmond de Silva, QC, can facilitate us by showing that an inquiry need not be lengthy, open-ended or inordinately expensive.

Confidence is fundamental to the Northern Ireland peace process. As we have seen in recent days, significant challenges have yet to be tackled and we can only tackle these challenges successfully if we do so together. Close partnership between the British and Irish Governments throughout the process has been critical to sustaining confidence and supporting progress. That visible and collaborative partnership is needed today perhaps more than at any time in the recent past. There are occasions when we disagree, but we do so respectively. This is one such occasion. While we will study the report carefully, we will continue to set out why we believe the Agreements matter and public confidence is best served by a public inquiry. The Irish Government will continue to seek a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finance, as committed to in the Agreements, and we will continue to work closely with the British Government in supporting the Executive and the Assembly as it seeks to address the difficult and polarising debate about flags.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I thank the Tánaiste for his reply. The report is shocking and reveals why the British Government did not want a public inquiry. The scale and depth of collusion between the RUC, the British army and the UDA and other loyalist forces are such that a public inquiry would probably reveal much more about the wider systemic nature of the collusion. In 1991 Mr. Ken Barrett, the person eventually convicted of the murder, was recruited as an agent by the RUC special branch instead of being prosecuted, which is what the RUC criminal investigative division wanted.

The Tánaiste has stated the Irish Government sought a full and open inquiry as part of the Weston Park agreement. The British Government decided instead to commission the de Silva review without consulting its Irish counterpart.

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