Issue 3-2023-200dpi

10 February 2005 Edition

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Justice delayed

British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday made an apology on behalf of the British Government to the eleven Irish people wrongfully imprisoned in connection with the 1974 Guildford and Woolwich bombings.

This week also marks the 16th anniversary of the death of Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane, gunned down by loyalists in his home on 12 February 1989. His death was the result of a British collusion policy, involving state-sponsored unionist death squads.

Over the last 16 years his family, supported by countless human rights organisations, including the United Nations Human Rights Committee, has lobbied for a fully independent public inquiry into Pat's death.

Successive British Governments have spent the last 16 years putting obstacles in the path of such an inquiry. After the Weston Park talks in 2001, the matter was to be dealt with once and for all. A judge of international standing and renown, Canada's Peter Cory, was appointed in 2002 to investigate Finucane's death along with those of Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill, Billy Wright, Judge Maurice Gibson and Cecily Gibson, and Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan.

Cory recommended inquiries into all the cases.

However, the British only undertook to carry out inquiries into three of the killings within its jurisdiction, stalling on the Finucane inquiry while criminal proceedings against loyalist Ken Barrett were ongoing.

Then Barrett was convicted of killing Pat Finucane in September 2004.

Forced into a corner, in November, the British announced an inquiry into Finucane.

But they still had an ace up their sleeve. On 26 November, they introduced the 'Tribunal of Inquiries Bill', which will allow for the Finucane Inquiry to be held behind closed doors and vital documents to be withheld on the grounds of 'national security'. Transcripts of the inquiry can also be withheld from the public for 30 years.

The Finucane family, quite rightly, have said they will not co-operate with it. They will continue to seek a fully independent public inquiry into the killing of their loved one.

Tony Blair has delivered one extremely belated apology this week, but the reality of his government's commitment to justice and truth is exposed by its treatment of the Finucanes.

An Phoblacht
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Dublin 1