THE signing of a joint letter by Michelle O’Neill, Stephen Farry, Colum Eastwood and Claire Bailey, calling on the British secretary of state to hold an independent investigation into the killing of human rights solicitor Patrick Finucane somehow did not get the headlines it deserved. It is worth reading in its entirety to see its import.
That there is now a local majority consensus that agrees there was collusion in his killing in 1989, that agrees there has not been effective or human rights compliant investigation since, that agrees it remains a matter of utmost public interest that questions remain unanswered about who ordered the killing, about who knew what and when, and agrees that a public inquiry should be held is extraordinary.
At the time of Pat Finucane’s murder the thought of the state colluding in the killing by the Ulster Defence Association was viewed as republican propaganda and was dismissed by most parties in the north. Even when the Weston Park negotiations agreed to a public inquiry into his death this was in the context of “building confidence” for nationalism in the peace process rather than a rights based approach to outstanding violations.
Sadly in the south of Ireland in 1989 the Leinster House parties were not overly exercised either and if they looked North at all they were much more consumed with the defeat of the IRA than raising the killing of a human rights solicitor. This week the Finucane family met with the Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Mícheál Martin whose party is consistent in its call for a public inquiry, as are his immediate predecessors in Fine Gael.
Every single party on this island, with the exception of those two with Unionist in their names, now stand full square behind the demand for a public independent judicial inquiry into Patrick Finucane’s murder. That is testimony to Geraldine Finucane and her children Michael, Catherine and John, who have refused to accept less, refused to be sidelined and refused to be silent. They have ensured that Pat’s name has rung across the halls of Leinster House, Washington’s Congressional buildings, Strasbourg’s European Court of Human Rights, the palace of Westminster and now the once closed and deaf buildings of Stormont. It is entirely to their credit that they have moved so many to the one place.
This week is significant. The British Secretary of State must tell the London Supreme Court how they will comply with their verdict of nearly two years ago that there must be an independent inquiry. They tried cover up, that didn’t work. They tried blaming the loyalists, that didn’t work. They tried unaccountable paper-based review with the De Silva report eight years ago. That didn’t work. They tried apology instead of inquiry. That did not work.
There is no longer any hiding place for the British government. They must allow full scrutiny of the facts surrounding this killing. And we know that once light is shed many, many, other families affected by Britain’s policy of collusion, run by the Security Service, the RUC Special Branch and the British army’s Force Research Unit, with total knowledge and support of Whitehall, will also be vindicated.
And that will be in our post-conflict society’s interest. The blood of truth has seeped out from under the closed doors of impunity for too long.
It truly is time for truth.