The 500-page report on the inquiry into the case of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane reveals that there were “shocking levels of collusion” surrounding Finucane’s 1989 death.
The Irish Times reports on the findings in the inquiry, which was compiled by Sir Desmond da Silva QC. The report shows that there is substantial evidence that agents of the State were involved in the death of Finucane.
"My review of the evidence relating to Patrick Finucane'scase has left me in no doubt that agents of the State were involved in carrying out serious violations of human rights up to and including murder," the report says.
Pat Finucane was shot dead by loyalist gunmen who burst into his home in north Belfast on February 12th 1989 as he was having a meal with his children and wife Geraldine, who was wounded in the incident. Finucane had been in the public eye after serving as solicitor for famous hunger-striker Bobby Sands, as well as providing legal guidance for other hunger-strikers.
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Finucane also represented the families of three men killed in the so-called "shoot to kill" episode in Armagh in 1982, and represented Patrick McGeown, who was accused of helping to organize the March 1988 killing of two army corporals, when criminal charges against him are dropped.
With his controversial and high-profile cases, Finucane quickly became a target.
Despite saying that agents of the State were “no doubt” involved in some capacity in Finucane’s death, da Silva’s report also read that there was no "over-arching state conspiracy" to have Finucane killed, rather there was "an extraordinary state of affairs was created.”
Such “state of affairs” includes the British army and the RUC special branch having prior notice of a series of planned UDA assassinations, but failing to do anything to prevent the attacks.
The report shows that there were three UDA conspiracies to murder Finucane that were known to the RUC special branch and or MI5. The three conspiracies are traced back to 1981, 1985 and 1988/9. Finucane was not warned of the threats against his life on any of these occasions.
The report indicates that in December 1988, MI5 received information about a “potentially serious threat to the life” of Finucane.
"Mr Finucane was murdered by the UDA less than two months afterwards. No steps had been taken to warn him that his life was in danger or to otherwise protect him," the report said.
"I believe that the responsibility for the failure to act on the December 1988 threat intelligence lies with the Security Service (MI5)," he added.
Speaking before the House of Commons on Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron called the “shocking levels of collusion” the inquiry highlighted as “unacceptable.” He also apologized to the Finucane family saying, “I am deeply sorry,” and that Pat Finucane’s murder was an “appalling crime.”
Prime Minister Cameron also said that while he respects the Finucane’s family’s view that the da Silva report may not be the right approach, he ultimately disagreed with them, citing that a public inquiry may not have uncovered as much information. He also added that he hoped the findings would be instrumental in moving Northern Ireland’s peace process even further.
Finucane’s widow Geraldine, however, when speaking at a British press conference, said that the report was “a sham... a whitewash... a confidence trick” and that, “This report is not the truth.” She again called for a public independent inquiry into her husband’s murder.
Geraldine’s desire for a public inquiry was echoed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told the Dáil on Wednesday that the Government would press the case for it at every opportunity. Sinn Féin and the SDLP also supported the call from the Finucane family for a full independent inquiry.
John Finucane, who was only 8 when his father was murdered, said that he and his family would approach the da Silva report with an open mind, but noted how "our past record does not fill us with hope".
He added, "If it is a review that puts all our questions to bed then there will be nobody happier than me to move on with our lives."
John Finucane told BBC News Radio 4 that “This is something which doesn’t just affect my family. It affects a very large section of society in Ireland.”