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Northern Ireland: Patrick Finucane Supreme Court ruling welcomed - now for public inquiry

Amnesty International has welcomed today’s Supreme Court ruling that an effective investigation into the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane has not yet been conducted by the UK authorities.

The Court ruled that the UK’s obligation under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, with respect to conduct an effective investigation, has not yet been discharged.

Amnesty said the Supreme Court decision should bring an end to the “30 years of shameful failure” by the Government to deliver the full truth about state involvement in Mr Finucane’s murder, and called for a public inquiry to be established without further delay.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is welcome news for everyone who cares about the truth.

“It is shameful that Patrick Finucane’s widow Geraldine has had to fight for 30 years, and all the way to the Supreme Court, to ensure the truth will be brought to light about the murder of her husband.

“The murder of a lawyer in the UK, with the state actively colluding in that murder, is one of the darkest chapters of our recent history.

“Today’s decision should bring to an end 30 years of shameful failure by the UK Government to deliver the public inquiry which they promised long ago.

“It is vital for public confidence in the rule of law that the government now moves swiftly to establish an independent public inquiry following the ruling of the Supreme Court.”


Patrick Finucane, a prominent criminal defence and civil rights lawyer, was shot 14 times by loyalist paramilitaries at his Belfast home on 12 February 1989. The attack took place in front of his wife and three children.

The Ulster Defence Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters (UDA/UFF) claimed responsibility for the attack. Since then, however, extensive and compelling evidence has emerged which shows that security personnel colluded with loyalist paramilitary groups in his killing.

In 2011, the UK government ordered a paper-based review of the available evidence by Sir Desmond de Silva QC. The de Silva report identified a number of ways in which the state and its agents colluded in the Finucane killing, including: leaking information to loyalist paramilitaries, amongst them the UDA; failing to act on information that Finucane was under threat of attack by loyalist paramilitaries; playing “key roles” in the actual killing, including by facilitating access to the murder weapon; refusing to investigate, arrest and prosecute UDA operatives at the time, despite evidence of their criminality; and covering up collusion in the killing for more than two decades.

In December 2012, then Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged “shocking levels of state collusion” in the killing of Patrick Finucane, and apologised publicly to the family.

Notwithstanding these acknowledgments, the UK Government has continued to refuse to allow a public inquiry into the killing, repeatedly invoking a supposed fear of “costly and open-ended inquiries”.

The Government’s failure to establish an inquiry into the Finucane killing is symptomatic of a wider failure to effectively address the past in Northern Ireland, and ensure accountability for the human rights violations and abuses committed by all sides during three decades of violence.

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