9 October 2003 Edition
Cory hands over his report
BY LAURA FRIEL
Former Canadian Supreme Court Judge Peter Cory handed the results of his £1.6 million probe into allegations of collusion to the London and Dublin governments this week. The judge had been tasked to consider six controversial cases in which collusion has been suspected. Included are the killings of defence lawyers Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, the sectarian mob murder of Catholic Robert Hamill, the death of jailed LVF leader Billy Wright, and the killing of two RUC officers and a High Court judge by the IRA.
The governments have been warned not to interfere with the report. The judge has also said he intends to hold Tony Blair to his promise to carry out public inquiries on his recommendation. However, the governments' legal officials will be trawling through the documents in order to blank out any names or information relevant to ongoing criminal investigations. But Judge Cory is threatening "to kick and scream and make a lot of noise" if there is any attempt to tamper with his report.
"They have to make sure I haven't revealed state secrets or that anything I have said would put anyone else in danger," said Judge Cory. Worryingly, revealing state secrets is precisely what most people hoped Judge Cory would do, given the remit to investigate the collusion of covert state forces with loyalist death squads. Through the establishment and control of covert units like the FRU and Special Branch, the British state has been secretly colluding in the murder of citizens within its own jurisdiction for years.
It is understood that Judge Cory plans to return in November to check any amendments before publication. The document will pass through Westminster before publication, expected in early December. The Dublin government says the families of the victims will be given access to the report 48 hours before it is made public. But relatives of those killed have expressed anger at the delay. Michael Finucane pointed out there was no reason why the families could not be given immediate access to the judge's conclusions.
Described by BBC Radio 4 as 'politically balanced', the British and Irish governments pre-selected the cases the judge could consider. Hundreds of northern nationalists are believed to have died as a direct result of a British policy initiated by Margaret Thatcher that placed state collusion with loyalist death squads at the heart of British occupation. But in the interests of 'balance', Cory was tasked with considering only two, the deaths of Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson.
Sadly, if the judge's own comments are any indication, the severe restrictions placed on the probe from the outset have limited the nature of the insight he can offer. "Collusion is, in effect, conniving with those who committed the murder by turning a blind eye and secretly encouraging," said Cory.
Turning a blind eye and secretly encouraging might seem like a viable explanation, were there only a handful of killings in which collusion was evident. But it seems less convincing when the number of victims runs into hundreds. In such a case, 'turning a blind eye' is systematic cover up and 'secretly encouraging' looks more like policy.
Judge Cory handed four reports to British Secretary of State Paul Murphy in London, before travelling to Dublin to meet Bertie Ahern to deliver a further two reports. "The two governments are determined that where there are allegations of collusion, the truth should emerge," said Paul Murphy.
"We have not finalised the arrangements with the British government on when we will get access to their reports and when they will get access to ours," said Bertie Ahern, "but certainly we will exchange information once they are examined by the departments."
Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy urged the governments to publish the reports and recommendations without delay. "We are told by British government sources that the Cory reports have to be vetted by the securocrats before they will be considered for publication. In other words the judge's findings are to be vetted by some of the very same people believed to be actively involved in collusion on behalf of their collusion masters, the British state," he said.