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13 May 1999 Edition

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Law Society forced to support inquiry calls

The Law Society, the body which represents solicitors in the Six Counties, has been forced to support calls for independent inquiries into the killings of solicitors Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson.

At an extraordinary AGM in Belfast on Tuesday, 11 May, the Society voted by the narrow margin of nine votes to support demands for for an independent inquiry into the 1989 killing of Pat Finucane and the killing of Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson in March of this year.

However a resolution calling for the ruling council of the Society to resign over its earlier refusal to back independent investigations into the killings was overwhelmingly defeated.

Said Barra McGrory, a Belfast based solicitor: ``I am of the view that the majority of solicitors wish the circumstances of the Finucane and Nelson murders to be cleared up.''

The Law Society vote comes in the week when former RUC boss John Herman added to the controversy over the Finucane killing when he told the right-wing Daily Telegraph that Pat Finucane was, ``associated with the IRA''.

Herman's comments met with a storm of reaction from the Finucane family and Sinn Féin.

Sinn Féin's Justice spokesperson, Bairbre de Brún, described Herman's comments as ``a pathetic attempt to deflect attention away from the allegations that the RUC colluded with loyalist death squads in the killing.

``Herman presided over the RUC during the shoot-to-kill operations and was named by outside investigating officers as an obstacle to uncovering the truth. Clearly his latest remarks are designed to make the task of uncovering the truth into the killing of Pat Finucane more difficult.''

Finucane's family criticised the former RUC boss and are calling on him to state publicly if he (Herman) briefed British Home Office minister Douglas Hogg who said in a House of Commons statement a month before the Finucane killing that some, ``solicitors in the North were unduly sympathetic to the IRA's cause.'' In a further smear from another of Herman's ilk on Tuesday, 11 May, Ulster Unionist MP Ken Maginnis, speaking on Today FM's The Last Word programme, asserted that Pat Finucane was in the IRA.
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