Pallone Urges Prime Minister Blair to Begin Full Public Inquiry Into the Murder of Finucane

Apr 15, 2004

Long Branch, NJ --- One week after the British government finally released a six-month old report from a former Canadian Supreme Court judge recommending independent and public inquiries be conducted into the murder of Pat Finucane and several others, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today urged British Prime Minister Tony Blair to immediately order a full, independent, public inquiry into Finucane's murder. In a letter to the prime minister, Pallone said after 15 years the Finucane family, as well as the residents of Northern Ireland, deserve to know who is truly responsible for his death.

"As you may remember, your government and the government of Ireland agreed at their joint summit at Westen Park that if an independent judge came to the conclusion that there was evidence that warranted the holding of a public inquiry then such an inquiry would be ordered," Pallone wrote.

Pallone pointed to the report by former Canadian Supreme Court Judge Peter Cory that found British security force collusion in the deaths of several individuals in Northern Ireland. After months of demands by the international community, the British government finally released a censored version of the report last week. Judge Cory recommended that independent public inquiries be conducted for the murders of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill and Billy Wright. Cory's inquiry showed enough evidence of collusion by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) to demand that an inquiry into these four murders be conducted now.

"While I applaud your government's decision to conduct public inquiries into the Nelson, Hamill and Wright murders, I am deeply disturbed that your government has to date refused to order a public inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane," Pallone continued in his letter to Blair. "Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy claimed that since an individual is currently being prosecuted for the murder, a public inquiry cannot take place until after the criminal justice process is completed.

"I could not disagree more," Pallone wrote. "I feel that for a lasting peace to be achieved in Northern Ireland, we must learn from the mistakes of the past. The people of Northern Ireland must be confident that their police service is independent and representative of all citizens.

"Pat Finucane was killed fifteen years ago," Pallone continued. "I find it absurd that Secretary Murphy is using the fact that a criminal prosecution is underway as an excuse to delay even longer the facts from coming out. For fifteen years, your government has stalled and refused to properly investigate the events surrounding the Finucane murder. Now a single judge, no-jury trial, fifteen years removed is going to stop the world from knowing the truth."

On February 12, 1989, Pat Finucane was shot and killed in his home in Belfast by British-Loyalist paramilitaries. Finucane was a Northern Ireland human rights attorney who defended individuals who were detained and targeted by the British and the RUC. Since his murder, Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch, the United Nations and other human rights organizations have called upon the British Government to conduct a full investigation to deal with charges of collusion between the RUC/British government officials and the Loyalist paramilitaries responsible for the murder.

Pallone believes the British Government should stop delaying and call for an independent public inquiry into the death of Finucane so the world can put these troubled times behind us and work toward a future peace.