Irish American lobby groups who attended the recent conference in Dublin marking the 20th anniversary of the killing of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane have sent a letter to the British Ambassador to the U.S. Nigel Sheinwald in Washington, D.C. calling for an independent inquiry into Finucane’s killing. The groups have also called for a meeting with the ambassador to clarify the British government’s intentions and to honor what they called its international obligations. In their letter to the ambassador the groups said that they were disturbed to discover what they called the British government’s decision “to frustrate the will of the United States Congress, as expressed in a U.S. Joint House Resolution, supporting a full, public, independent, international inquiry into the murder of Belfast human rights lawyer Patrick Finucane.” The lobby groups reminded the ambassador that the Joint Resolution rejected the idea that the inquiry should be conducted under the limited authority of the Inquiries Act of 2005, which they claim give ministers undue influence over any investigation. The group also reminded the ambassador of President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge in support of former Canadian Supreme Court Judge Peter Cory’s recommendation for a public, independent, international inquiry, and of the long-standing public support for the Finucane family’s campaign on the parts of both Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The letter writers were particularly concerned to read the recent letter from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Shaun Woodward, which suggested that proceeding with a full, public, independent, international inquiry might now be re-examined by the British government “in the public interest.” The public interest, the groups claimed, is already reflected in the Joint Resolution and requires no re-examination. The Irish American lobby groups added that neither Congress nor the Obama administration would tolerate what they called any further obfuscation regarding the British government’s obligation to hold an international, independent inquiry. Calling for a meeting in advance of the forthcoming Saint Patrick’s Day festivities across the United States, the groups called on the ambassador and the British government to give what they called “full and unfettered effect to Congressional policy regarding the matter, before we raise the alarm at the highest levels of U.S. government.” The letter to the British ambassador was signed by founding member of the Brehon Law Society, General James P. Cullen; Robert Dunne, president of the New York Brehon Law Society; Seamus Boyle, national president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians; Kate McCabe, national president of the Irish American Unity Conference; Paul Doris, national president of Irish Northern Aid; Michael Glass, U.S. Department of State, advisory committee and Gerard McCabe, president of the Irish American Building Society.
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