Finucane family's agony continues, as does UK government avoidance of truth

Nineteen years after his murder by loyalist paramilitaries, the family of lawyer Pat Finucane is still waiting for the truth behind his killing to emerge.

Successive UK governments have bobbed and weaved to avoid the full story surrounding his killing, and the associated allegations of State collusion in the killing, from coming to light.

The solicitor, who came from a republican family and who represented a number of high profile republican clients (as well as some loyalists), was murdered in his home in front of his family in February 1989. More background on the case is available from campaign group, the Pat Finucane Centre, named posthumously for him, as well as from British Irish Rights Watch and the BBC.

In April 2004 retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory – who had been appointed by the British and Irish governments to investigate the allegations of collusion by the RUC, British Army and the Gardaí in the murder of the solicitor and a number of other individuals – recommended public inquiries be established into the Finucane and other murders.

In 2005 the UK government passed the Inquiries Act, which limits the scope of public inquiries and gives significant new powers to the government to limit the information that can be publicly scrutinised by such an inquiry. There was and remains a high level of suspicion that the Act was specifically designed with the Finucane case in mind.

Naturally the family, strongly supported by Amnesty International, objected to the holding of an inquiry with such limitations placed upon it.

It has now emerged that the government has abandoned plans to hold any inquiry at all into Finucane's death. Former Secretary of State Peter Hain MP decided this 18 months ago. The family has only just found out, following their own enquiries to the Northern Ireland Office. The ever-dignified Geraldine Finucane, the solictor's widow, is quoted by the BBC as saying: "I do not want to have to campaign forever. All I ask is that the inquiry is open and fair and that it is not controlled by the British government from behind the scenes."

The actions of Conservative and Labour administrations since 1989 to obfuscate, prevaricate and evade an effective truth-finding process can only serve to build suspicions of the worst possible motives – that agents of the State, possibly with the knowledge and even approval of senior figures in the government of the time, conspired with a paramilitary organisation, to kill a troublesome, high-profile lawyer.

If, indeed, that is the truth behind nineteen years of a meticulously constructed and maintained veil of secrecy, it is the sort of terrible truth that should cause every citizen to shudder.

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