Finucane Family Sets Record Straight

The family of Pat Finucane have today set the record straight over their dealings with the British Government in the run up to this weeks decision by the government not to hold an inquiry into Finucane’s murder in 1989. Speaking at a press conference in Belfast earlier today the family announced they had agreed to accept a ‘Baha Mousa’ style inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act as long as assurances were given the government ministers would not interfere. The family believed this had been agreed with the Government and it was on this basis they agreed to travel to London to meet David Cameron earlier his week only to be told there would be no inquiry.

Full Statement by Geraldine Finucane, Belfast, Oct 14th 2011

“The world is now aware that my family and I  were invited by the British Prime Minister David Cameron to 10 Downing Street  earlier this week to hear his decision on the holding of an inquiry into the  murder of my husband, Pat Finucane. Even now, days after the event, we still feel  humiliated and insulted by the ordeal we were made to endure.

Not only were my family and I forced to listen to  the Prime Minister of Britain renege on a promise made by the British  Government, we had to hear him tell us, over and over, what it was that we really wanted, how we really wanted to achieve it, and what our ultimate  response would be. It was clear within minutes that we had been lured to  Downing Street under false pretences by a disreputable government led by a  dishonourable man. My family and I have been humiliated publicly and misled privately.  The NI Secretary of State, Owen Patterson, has denied that the Government  misled my family. He claims that the reason we were brought to London was to  allow the Prime Minister to apologise personally. I reject this explanation as  untrue and self-serving.

I intend to reveal the details of discussions with  British Government officials over the last year, which will show clearly prove  that my family and I were indeed misled.

Lawyers for my family, including my two sons,  attended meetings over the course of the last year with both the Secretary of  State and his officials. Most of these meetings were private, to facilitate  open discussion. The process was part of a review by the Government to determine  whether a public inquiry ‘remained in the public interest.’ The Government was keen  to know if we would participate in an inquiry and if so, under what conditions.

Our objection to part of the Inquiries Act 2005 is  well documented. We opposed the use of the Restriction Notices created by the  Act because a Government minister can impose these upon an inquiry at will. We  had asked the previous Government not to use them but were told this was  impossible. However, a recent case, the Baha Mousa Inquiry, created just such a  precedent. Restriction Notices were not deployed in Baha Mousa. Instead,  decisions about the restriction of evidence were left to the independent judge. We told the Government that  an inquiry operated along the same lines as Baha Mousa would be something we  could participate in. Although it was made clear that the Minister would make the  final decision on an inquiry, the indications from Government officials were  encouraging.

At no time were we advised that an alternative to  an inquiry was also under consideration.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, we committed  our position to writing in a submission delivered to the Government. Copies of  this document are available. As it makes clear, the focus of the discussions  between our family and the Government was the manner in which the inquiry might  proceed. It was the Government itself that brought the Baha Mousa inquiry into  discussions as a model upon which progress could be built. A considerable amount  of time was spent exploring how it could be utilised as a blueprint for Pat’s  case.

At no stage was a review in the manner announced by  the Prime Minister ever discussed. We were told the Secretary of State would  make a decision. When we learned that the Prime Minister wished to meet with us  in Downing Street, we assumed, as did many others, that the Government was  going to confirm its commitment to the promise of a public inquiry.  Furthermore, in a recent telephone conversation between a senior NIO official  and our lawyer, Peter Madden, we were told the Prime Minister was confident we  would be happy with what was on offer. We could not bring ourselves to believe  that we were being invited as guests to the Prime Minister’s home just to be  refused the public inquiry promised many years ago.

The fact that David Cameron did so and in such a  public fashion ranks as one of the most cruel and devastating experiences of my  life.

What Mr. Cameron has established is a review of the  papers in the case. The person appointed, Sir Desmond De Silva, will simply  read the statements collected by the Stevens Investigation team. Although he  will be permitted to speak with relevant persons, this will be done behind  closed doors. My family will not be permitted to participate. We will see nothing  for ourselves, hear nothing for ourselves and say nothing for ourselves. If  anyone refuses t o speak with Mr. De Silva, he has no powers to compel them.

My family and I have no confidence in this process.  We cannot be expected to take the British Prime Minister’s word that it will be  effective when he is reneging on a Government commitment in order to establish  it. His actions prove beyond doubt that the word of British Prime Minister is  not to be trusted. The case of Pat Finucane shows that British Prime Ministers  no longer keep their promises.

My family and I take great encouragement from the  renewed support we have received this week, domestically and internationally.  An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has already asked for an urgent meeting with the  family next Monday. Members of the US Congress have criticised the decision  publicly and made their feelings known to the US and British Governments. Perhaps  most telling of all, two former NI Secretaries of State have disagreed with the  Prime Minister and urged him to reconsider. They have called this review  “a mistake”. It is much more than that. History will not look  favourably upon the decision of Mr. Cameron to welsh on the promise that was  made.

My family does not believe that a public inquiry  into Pat’s murder would elevate his case above the deaths of others. We support  the quest of any family for truth and justice. We believe that a public inquiry  into the murder of Pat Finucane would be a force for good and not a  long-running, open ended waste of money. It would clear a lot of the very  poisonous air that has been left behind.

Most of all, we do believe that the British Government should honour the promise they made.”

Details of the Finucane family discussions with British Government officials can be viewed here.

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