Full Public Inquiry Needed into Finucane Murder and State Collusion

Sinn Féin West Belfast MP, Paul Maskey after having sight of the de Silva Report into the murder of Belfast Solicitor Pat Finucane said that its conclusions only serve to reinforce the need for a full Independent Public Inquiry.

Paul Maskey said:

“We fully support the demand by Geraldine Finucane, Pat’s widow and her family for a full Independent Public Inquiry into Pat’s murder.

“The revelations in the de Silva Report released today only serve to reinforce that position.”

Referring to the Force Research Unit (FRU), which was set up within the British Army Intelligence Corps in 1982, Maskey says:

“We were all aware that there was collusion in Pat’s murder as borne out by the fact, confirmed in the de Silva Report, that FRU recruited Nelson as an agent at a time when he was working in Germany and encouraged him to return to Belfast and join the UDA – this was deliberate proactive collusion.

“Nelson contrary to what is portrayed by vested interests was no maverick but an integral part of the FRU infrastructure as evidenced by the fact that he regularly updated and briefed his handlers on his activities.

“In 1988 British security services received information that three solicitors were to be killed and failed to act. The Report finds that the British army bears a degree of responsibility for Nelson’s activity between 1983 and 89 and that, Ken Barrett (eventually convicted of Pat’s murder) could have been arrested at the time but was instead recruited as an agent.

“Successive British governments according to the Report failed to produce proper guidelines on the operation of agents resulting in information from RUC and UDR being given to loyalists and this was widespread.

“At least two agents were involved in Pat’s murder but yet there was no warning from RUC to Pat that his life was under threat.

“The UDR gun which was stolen in 1987 was also used in the murder of Gerard Slane and Terrence McDaid and even though the RUC had this information no one was arrested.

“The British Army lied to investigators and the RUC withheld information from the DPP while MOD supplied misleading information to Secretary of State. While the Report claims that no government Minister had fore-knowledge of Pat’s murder they failed in their responsibility through failure to have proper procedures in place.

“De Silva himself expressed doubt that Pat would have been murdered had it not been for elements of the state. Through wilful neglect, lies and lack of procedure West Belfast UDA were allowed to operate unhindered.

“Nelson’s handlers were aware of his visits to South Africa to meet arms dealers. Within six months of being recruited Nelson made a significant impact in increasing the UDA’s targeting capacity. FRU had full knowledge but failed to act.

`It was also found that the RUC must bear a substantial responsibility for the failure to protect the vast majority of UDA targets identified by Nelson. De Silva concluded that it is also likely that an RUC officer or officers in Castlereagh did propose that Pat Finucane be a target.

14 comments on “Full Public Inquiry Needed into Finucane Murder and State Collusion

  1. The bloody Sunday inquiry dragged on for years and cost hundreds of million. The last thing northern Ireland needs is another public inquiry. Time to move on.

  2. Joseph: The last thing northern Ireland needs is another public inquiry. Time to move on.

    It is not possible to “move on” when the state has murdered people, and then covered it up, because that undermines the credibility of the British state, which is still a key player in determining the future of the six counties.

    Discovering at what level in the British government this murder was known about and approved is vitally important.

    The state murdering a lawyer whose political views are unappealling to the government, and who is defending people who the state would rather were not defended is totally contemptuous of the rule of law.

  3. Seriously, you know that a public inquiry would be termed a white wash when it came to the same conclusions. It would also be deeply divisive, like the bloody sunday inquiry, as people on the other side demand an inquiry into similar atrocities. A line has to be drawn on both sides. The British state freed countless IRA men under the good Friday agreement, even the Brighton bomber. The idea that we need to spend hundreds of millions on attempting to find out who, understandably it has to be said, tipped off loyalist paramilitaries about the enemy of the day, is wholly wrong headed. The war is over.

  4. Joseph: Seriously, you know that a public inquiry would be termed a white wash when it came to the same conclusions.

    Of course that did not happen to the actual Bloody Sunday public enquiry. It did apply to the various white washes preceding it.

    Of course that was State sponsored mass murder rather than State sponsored selective murder. Albeit to the same end. You cannot put a price on it.

  5. Joseph,

    Except what an enquiry might further highlight is that Loyalist dominance over the State apparatus in NI is something that is incompatible with the building of a truly civil society, compatible with the rule of law. Finucane wasn’t “the enemy of the day” but a lawyer and private citizen who was targetted for murder by the political powers-that-be in NI.

  6. Omar: Finucane wasn’t “the enemy of the day” but a lawyer and private citizen who was targetted for murder by the political powers-that-be in NI.

    Indeed Omar but there is Hogg’s chilling anouncement in the Commons that some solicitors showed too much sympathy to Republicans. That predated Pat Finucane’s State sanctioned murder.

    The fact is Loyalist power, political or otherwise always relied on the overt or covert support of sections of the British State. Without that it would wither and die. A Public Enquiry will lay this stark fact bare and accordingly is resisted by those sections of the State.

  7. Joseph: The British state freed countless IRA men under the good Friday agreement, even the Brighton bomber. The idea that we need to spend hundreds of millions on attempting to find out who, understandably it has to be said, tipped off loyalist paramilitaries about the enemy of the day, is wholly wrong headed

    The IRA prisoners (women as well as men, by the way) had been held as “criminals” by the British state, because the state claimed to be a sovereign actor maintaining the rule of law. Now it transpires that far from upholding the rule of law, the state was actually engaged in murder and conspiracy.

    While you are right to say the “war is over” you are naive to think that the result of the war finishing is that the issues that the war was fought over have all been resolved. The International treaty that was the GFA instituted a peaceful process for managing change; where it is broadly true that considerable maturity and good will has been shown from all parts of the political spectrum.

    However, moving forwards towards further reconciliation requires truthfulness and uncomfortable conversations and admissions. The British state currently presents itself as an honest broker, above the fray, what the Finucane murder shows is that the British state was itself an actor in extra-legal violence.

    If there is to be further progress towards conflict resolution, then all parties need to be honest about the past roles they have played; otherwise their current credibility is weakened.

    Of course, a multi-million pound inquiry could be avoided if the British state actors involved came clean voluntarily about what they did. I am sure that a framework could be agreed to give immunity analogous to how the Truth and Reconcilition process worked in South Africa.

  8. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: is that the British state was itself an actor in extra-legal violence.

    Agreed. And the problem is broader than just this case in NI as bad as it is. The British state has for years (centuries) been involved in extra-legal violence and will continue to do so when occasion demands in the pursuit of its own interests.

  9. On one level the argument that it was war, albeit low intensity, and fought dirty by all parties, is very appealing to many people. Look too deeply into one atrocity and all you do is re-open old wounds and have loads of people engaging in whataboutery.

    But look at the proportionality of all this. Large numbers of republicans were convicted of involvement in acts of violence and while they may have subseqently been released many spent significant amounts of time in jail (several as we know died there). And my understanding is that any released early from life sentences are still on life licence and therefore subject to recall.

    Of course large numbers of loyalist paramilitaries were also jailed.

    But how many members of the security forces, at any level, have ever been held accountable through the criminal justice system for acts which have led directly or indirectly to unlawful killings? Not many is the answer, and certainly none at any senior level.

    If no proportionate and credible investigation is carried out, the message is that the British government, while putting out an apology here or there, is implicitly justifying the use of whatever means necessary, legal or illegal by the armed bodies state, including manipulation of and collusion with paramilitary death squads. In fact the more evidence that emerges and the less that is done about it the more that impression is given.

    And let’s face it, what cuts more ice with most people with respect to the Republican Movement- the fact that they issued a fair few apologies over the years or the fact that they no longer do things that give rise to the need to issue those apologies?

  10. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    “The idea that we need to spend hundreds of millions on attempting to find out who, understandably it has to be said, tipped off loyalist paramilitaries about the enemy of the day, is wholly wrong headed.”

    Who are we to criticise the British government’s “understandable” need to murder people by proxy, using some pseudo-gang or other so no nasty blood splash gets on British army or police uniforms?

  11. Mark Victorystooge: Who are we to criticise the British government’s “understandable” need to murder people by proxy, using some pseudo-gang or other so no nasty blood splash gets on British army or police uniforms?

    Good grief, what an idiotic thing to say, british state murder, “Understandable” Fool

  12. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    #11 – Actually, it was a sarcastic comment on Joseph’s description of security forces’ using groups like the UVF to kill people as being “understandable”.

    They do say the finer forms of irony and sarcasm don’t always get understood on the Internet or even the TV. This explains why spoof news items like those on the Onion News Network are sometimes mistaken for the real thing.

    I have to say my own irony detector is working full-time, what with the Yank and his friends arming and funding the sort of Al Qaida historical regressionists in Libya and Syria that they allegedly have been fighting against for over a decade. And what with British “revolutionary socialists” supporting the same “revolutions” that the British ruling class does.

  13. saothar on said:

    Of course there is a need for a full public inquiry into this murder. The war may be over, but we still have the myth, manufactured by the British, that it was, at root, a sectarian conflict in which it played the role of brave and impartial peace-keeper.

    There is an admission that there was some collusion and some atrocities, but of course these happened at such a low level that they cannot be seen as evidence that the state itself was following such a policy.

    The Finucane murder strikes at the heart of all of this, which is why the British state won’t grant an inquiry, and why we must continue to press for one. A full inquiry would allow for the likes of Hogg–who was later promoted by Thatcher–to be placed on the stand and asked why he made those comments about Finucane (and they were about him, although he wasn’t mentioned by name) It might allow for a fuller picture of the extent to which the British state was implicated in murdering its own citizens. In some respects, this is an even more important inquiry than Bloody Sunday, because collusion lasted for the entire duration of the conflict, resulted in far more deaths, and could have far more serious consequences for the British state.

    Anyone who does any type of research into loyalist killings during the war will come across countless examples of strange or suspect behaviour by the state forces. Areas that were heavily patrolled by state forces would suddenly become quiet, the state forces would withdraw, and then lo and behold, a loyalist murder would take place. As it stands right now, we are supposed to believe that the entire 30 years of collusion, of these suspicious murders carried out by loyalists, and the more blatant examples such as Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, were caused by individual bad apples, and did not involve the decision makers in London. Perhaps a public inquiry into Pat Finucane;s murder would begin to challenge all of that

  14. Vincent Doherty on said:

    Why people would even respond to someone who can make a remark like those “who, understandably it has to be said tipped off loyalist paramilitaries on the enemy of the day” is clearly a dyed in the wool reactionary or more likely an agent provocateur. Hundreds of innocent Catholics were systematically murdered to as a result of collusion between the state and the death squads. The purpose of the terror was not about a military victory which the British knew they could never achieve. The purpose of the terror was to discourage people from expressing support for the Sinn Fein political project, which up until the post ceasefire period, was about cresting a united socialist republic in Ireland which struck terror into the hearts of the ruling classes in Britain ans Ireland.