The son of murdered human rights lawyer Pat Finucane has been elected Lord Mayor of Belfast. The killing of his father just a few weeks after he was named in the British parliament as an IRA advocate was one of the most notorious of The Troubles
John Finucane had won a council seat as a Sinn Fein candidate in the recent local elections and has now been elected Mayor under a power-sharing agreement.
Like his murdered father, Finucane is a human rights lawyer. He witnessed the murder of his father when just a child by a Loyalist assassination squad run by British undercover operatives.
Pat Finucane was 39 years of age when was shot dead by a death squad in front of his wife and children in 1989 His wife Geraldine was wounded in the attack, while John and his sister Katherine and brother Michael hid under a table as their father was shot 14 times.
The family's decades-long legal battle with the British government for a full public inquiry into the killing continues despite earlier agreements to hold one.
Republican News reported that “Finucane urged unionists to judge him with an open mind and highlighted his family links to the unionist community.”
"I am the product of an east Belfast mother who grew up in a middle-class unionist area and a west Belfast father who grew up in a Catholic working-class area," Finucane, said as he formally began his year in office.
"I live and have grown up in north Belfast, I have seen both sides of this city.
"I am a republican, I have family members who are unionist, I have family members who are neither of the two and I think that diversity can only make our city stronger because certainly, I have felt the benefit of that particular upbringing.
"I feel very comfortable in my own politics, that it doesn't cause me any discomfort to go into areas, where I have been invited, to go into areas and show that a Sinn Fein mayor is not something to be feared.
"Because first and foremost, especially given my own personal background, I know that we need representation that represents everybody, and we can't be partial.
"I appreciate that is me setting out my stall at the start of the year, but I ask people to certainly treat me with an open mind because I am coming at this to very much represent everybody in Belfast, and I think there will be opportunities that present themselves and I don't think I will be found wanting."
He stated he wanted to be "a mayor for everybody". He added: "I think diversity in my personal background has made me stronger. It's not just a sound bite from me to say I am here to represent everybody. I will be doing that."
He explained that he had relatives who were members of the Orange Order, and he recently discovered that his grandfather served in the British Navy during World War Two.
"My office and my hand will always be extended, especially to the Orange Order," he said. "Certainly, I won't be found wanting should a request come in."
He said he was "very cognizant of my own family history" in World War Two and added that he would deal with such issues as commemorations in a "very sensitive" manner.
He added that he hoped his late father would be proud.
The cross-party agreement for Belfast's mayor post will see the DUP take the spot in 2020, the Alliance Party in 2021 and Sinn Fein again in 2022.