Finucane Memorial Conference Held

Civil and human rights campaigners from Britain, Ireland and the U.S. gathered at Trinity College in Dublin on Saturday, February 14 for an all-day memorial conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the murder of the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane. Finucane's wife Geraldine and his legal partner Peter Madden spoke of their personal loss and renewed their calls for a fully independent public inquiry into state collusion in the killing. Finucane, a graduate of Trinity College, became an outstanding defense solicitor, taking shoot-to-kill allegations to the European Court of Human Rights and challenging gagging orders protecting police from having to give evidence at inquests. Currently, the British government is insisting that an inquiry into the case can only be held under the Inquiries Act 2005, which critics say extinguishes the chances of a genuinely independent and effective investigation. Under the act the British government can control who sits on the inquiry, it can order that part of the inquiry be held in private, and it can decide which of an inquiry's findings are published and which remain secret, even from the Finucane family. In July last year, the UN Human Rights Committee criticized the 2005 legislation, claiming it allowed "the government minister who established an inquiry to control important aspects of that inquiry." Police inquiries to date have already discovered that the Ulster Defense Association member who pulled the trigger was an informer for the RUC Special Branch, as was the man who provided him with the murder weapon. Collusion in the murder ranged from the British Army agent who scouted the murder scene, to the police informer who provided the murder weapon. The Stevens report into the killing found that the police and army colluded in the murder of Finucane. In 2003 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the police investigation of the murder Pat Finucane was a breach of human rights. The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) claimed on February 10 that ministers would decide "whether it remains in the public interest to proceed with an inquiry." However the NIO did not explain why it would not be in the public's interest to discover if the state colluded in killing a lawyer. Meanwhile, in Belfast on Saturday, hundreds of people attended a candle-lit vigil to mark the 20th anniversary of Finucane's murder. A public picket of Belfast's High Court is scheduled for Thursday.

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