29 April 1999 Edition

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Stevens move aimed at preventing Finucane Inquiry

Geraldine Finucane, wife of assasinated solicitor Pat Finucane, has condemned RUC Chief Ronnie Flanagan's appointment of John Stevens to reopen the investigation into the murder of her husband 10 years ago and has said she will not take part in the investigation.

Questioning Flanagan's motives, Finucane said: ``It is more than a coincidence that this latest probe comes at a time when international concern about possible RUC and British Army collusion in Pat's murder has reached an unprecedented level.''

She said Flanagan's move was designed to ``thwart international and domestic pressure'' for a full international judicial inquiry into all the circumstances surrounding the murder and was ``a transparent and deeply cynical effort to delay the inevitable - an inquiry''.

Geraldine Finucane also questioned the limitations of the criminal investigation that will now be headed by Stevens. She said it was ``very limited and restricted in its scope''.

At the press launch of the reopened Finucane Inquiry on Wednesday, 28 April, John Stevens claimed his terms of reference were the recent UN report by Param Cumaraswammy and the `Deadly Intelligence' report by the British-Irish Rights Watch. He confirmed that any report from his investigation would automatically be passed to Ronnie Flanagan before being passed on to the DPP.

Stevens side-stepped the issue of Geraldine Finucane's claim that Flanagan was using him to deflect the calls for a full international inquiry and avoided the issue of whether he would re-interview Brian Nelson.

A spokesperson for the Pat Finucane Centre called on Mo Mowlam to ``end the pretence that the Stevens inquiry `Mark III' will satisfy the demands for a proper independent and international inquiry.

``This is now the third time that Stevens will `investigate' the murder of Pat Finucane. At Wednesday's press conference, Stevens stated that evidence from Geraldine Finucane may prove `crucial'. Given that his previous investigations made no attempt to interview Geraldine Finucane or any member of the law firm of Madden and Finucane, would he then accept that his previous efforts were fatally flawed?''

The Pat Finucane Centre demanded ``as a matter of urgency'' that Stevens hand over to the Finucane family the findings of the earlier inquiries. Meanwhile, An Phoblacht has learnt that two meetings between Geraldine Finucane and Mo Mowlam scheduled for Monday and Tuesday were cancelled by Mowlam.

Commenting on the Stevens Inquiry, Sinn Féin's Bairbre de Brún said: ``Given the clear lack of faith in John Stevens on the part of the Finucane family, it is clearly a retrogade step to refer this matter to him yet again. This move will be seen as a cynical attempt to prevent a fully independent international inquiry into the lawyer's murder.

``Recently the UN Special Rapporteur reported his concern to the United Nations that there is at least prima facie evidence of British military and/or RUC collusion in the killing of Pat Finucane. This is a matter of utmost concern, and deserves far more than the response that it has recived today.

``John Stevens has allowed his previous reports to gather dust. Why choose him to investigate the matter again? In particular, why postpone an independent inquiry so that he can look at the issue again? He has already said that he knows who killed Pat Finucane. John Stevens made recommendations for prosecution, which were never followed up. He should tell us now whether he passed those recommendations directly to the DPP or the Chief Constable of the RUC

``Sinn Féin has called for many years for the full circumstances surrounding the killing of Pat Finucane to be made public. The best, in fact the only way in which this can be established is through a fully independent inquiry.''

The Law Society of Ireland is supporting calls for an independent judicial inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane and has also demanded that the current investigation into the assassination of Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson be conducted ``to the highest possible standards''.
The society's Council, its governing body, unanimously approved a resolution, drawing attention to Basic Principle 16 of the UN's Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which states thast governments are obliged to ensure that lawyers can perform their professional duties ``without intimidation, hindrance, harassment, or improper interference''.

The resolution added that the authorities charged with investifgating both murders must ``command the respect and support of the entire community and of the legal profession''.

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