THE family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane have been praised as an example of "courage, tenacity and generosity" on the 35th anniversary of his death.
Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his family by a UDA gang on February 12, 1989 in one of the most high-profile cases of British state collusion during the Troubles. His wife Geraldine was wounded in the attack on their North Belfast home.
Family and friends of the West Belfast man gathered close to his home at Fortwilliam Drive in North Belfast on Sunday night for the annual commemoration.
Andrée Murphy from victims' group Relatives for Justice addressed the crowd.
"2024 marks the 35th anniversary of the killing of human rights solicitor Pat Finucane – 35 years that seem an eternity and a blink of an eye all at once," she said.
A huge crowd at tonight’s vigil for Pat Finucane to mark the 35th anniversary of his murder pic.twitter.com/rEuy66FHKF— Relatives 4 Justice #NeverGivingUp (@RelsForJustice) February 11, 2024
For this family it has been 35 years of seeking truth, justice and accountability. For the rest of us it has been an example of courage, tenacity and generosity.
"For the Finucanes have never sought truth and justice only for themselves. They have always framed their personal grief, loss and struggle in the policy of collusion that did not just take their husband, father and brother’s life, but took the lives of hundreds of others.
"They always knew it was not just about the loyalists that pulled the trigger, but about the policy makers that provided the information, gun and cover up. Not just in Pat’s case but as their military policy in Ireland. When they could not shoot Irish citizens dead while wearing a uniform, they did it through their proxies. And then denied it.
"From 1989 we now know more about the intricate, sophisticated and layered day to day workings of collusion because of the Finucane family’s insistence on never taking no for an answer.
"Pat's widow Geraldine refused to isolate herself and her experience and placed it in the context of policy and practice. That means we today stand 35 years later knowing the nature of collusion and the framework we work to expose and hold accountable and we are all in this family’s debt.
Gathered tonight to remember Pat Finucane, murdered 35 years ago. .@johnfinucane .@andreemurphy spoke very well. Geraldine Finucane, who was also shot that night, concluded by saying that the Family will never give up. So poignant, graceful & dignified. ✌️ pic.twitter.com/bmLIm1VLd0— 🇵🇸🍉CarálNíChuilín (Sí/í)Is Deontóir Mé ✊ (@CaralNiChuilin) February 11, 2024
"History is about the past, legacy is about the present. None of us here live in the past. We live in the present and are, with the Finucanes, if we choose to be, the guardians of truth, justice and the Good Friday Agreement’s promise of equality under the law. That is true legacy and the only path to lasting reconciliation.
"The name of Pat Finucane, from Belfast to Strasbourg to Washington, is a beacon of human rights in the fog of lies and impunity. The many young solicitors and law students who are defending those rights and will see the vindication of families into the future here tonight, and across our community, are legacy.
"And this family, whom all of us hold in the highest of esteem, with four generations of Finucanes, are Pat’s legacy, not only of horrific loss and trauma, but so much more – of generosity, of example and of encouragement to all of us.
"Let us end by giving thanks for the legacy of Pat Finucane and to the living legacy of a family to whom we are indebted."
Pat's son, North Belfast MP John Finucane, said: "We are gathered to remember the life of my dad Pat Finucane and the legacy that he has left, marking the 35th anniversary of his murder.
"We as a family are forever grateful to those who have continued to stand with us on our path for truth and justice.
"Thank you as always to Relatives for Justice for organising and to Andrée Murphy for her moving words."