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15 January 2004 Edition

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Cory demands collusion inquiries - British Government snubbed by Canadian judge

BY LAURA FRIEL

"Cory should be immediately published and the British Government must establish full public judicial inquiries," Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has told the British Secretary of State, Paul Murphy. At the meeting, Adams pressed for the immediate publication of Judge Cory's findings and the implementation of the recommendations.

The retired Canadian judge had been tasked by the British and Dublin Governments to investigate allegations of state collusion in relation to six specific cases. These included the killing of defence lawyers Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, the death of Catholic Robert Hamill and the LVF prisoner Billy Wright. The Dublin Government adhered to its original promise to publish two of the six reports before Christmas but the British have delayed publication and sought to redraft Cory's findings.

At the completion of his findings Judge Cory warned that he would not tolerate interference or suppression of his reports and would be prepared to kick up a fuss if there was any attempt at political manipulation. This week, the judge made good his promise by going over the British Government's head and informing the families of the victims that he had recommended inquiries into the deaths of their relatives.

The judge had become so annoyed at the British Government's refusal to publish his reports that he personally contacted the families to inform them of his recommendations. The British Government has cited a series of legal considerations as the reason behind their failure to adhere to their commitments.

The Finucane family welcomed the Judge's intervention. Michael Finucane, son of the murdered solicitor, said he had received a telephone call from Judge Cory on Monday afternoon and described the Canadian as a man of "unquestionable integrity". The judge informed the families of his recommendations but did not detail the findings that led him to make his decisions.

"I think the fact that Judge Cory felt compelled to contact us shows up the British Government as being at the very least, guilty of bad faith and, at worst, duplicity and lies," said Michael.

"I don't think the concepts of independence and impartiality are compatible with how the British Government does its business," he said.

The Finucane family is now seeking a judicial review in an attempt to force the British Government into complying with its commitments by publishing the findings and establishing the recommended inquiries.

Speaking at Stormont, Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams said the British Government's reluctance to fulfil the commitments it has made is rooted in the fact that collusion was and is part of administrative practice in the North of Ireland and British agencies did collude with unionist paramilitaries.

Adams said the British Government is seeking to find excuses to prevent publication of the reports and said the British Prime Minister must personally address the issue.

"There was a policy and administrative practice of collusion between British agencies and agents within unionist paramilitaries," said Adams. "That obviously is a huge thing for the British Government to deal with, but Mr Blair has to deal with this issue."

Meanwhile, Fírinne, the victims' group campaigning for the truth about collusion, is to hold a mass picket at the headquarters of British Intelligence in London.

On Wednesday 4 February, 100 relatives of those killed as a result of collusion will travel to London to picket, for the first time, those responsible for the policy of collusion — the government department and agencies that directed the loyalist killer gangs.

"The policy of employing the loyalist death squads was not the actions of rogue agents or individuals who overstepped their responsibilities," said spokespeson Mark Sykes (who was seriously injured in the attack on Graham's Bookies on the Ormeau Road). "It was a policy endorsed at the highest political level. The British response to the Barron Inquiry and their refusal to act on the Cory report prove this. The British Government has never accepted its responsibility for the deaths which resulted from this policy."

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