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Statement of Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs and Friends of Ireland In Response to Judge's Order in Finucane Case

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Yesterday Judge Ben Stephens ordered the British Government to disclose to the court documents related to the government's decision to deny a promised public judicial inquiry into government collusion in the 1989 murder in Northern Ireland of human rights attorney Patrick Finucane. In response to the order, the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs and the Congressional Friends of Ireland release the following statement:

"Judge Stephens' order yesterday demonstrates that the British government is continuing to withhold crucial information on its decision not to establish a public judicial inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane. We hope that after the judge reviews the documents, he compels the government to release them to the family of Pat Finucane, which continues to press for the fulfillment of the promise made in the 2001 Weston Park Agreement. This commitment, which the British government freely undertook, was to conduct a public inquiry regarding collusion in the Finucane murder if so recommended by former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Peter Cory. Justice Cory formally recommended such an inquiry in 2004. Since that time the British government has delayed. It has changed its law on public inquiries, so as to give it political control over what in 2001 was a judicial process. Most recently the British government has admitted there was collusion, apologized for it… and announced that it will not conduct the promised inquiry. In effect, its current position is that its officials committed a serious crime, but it will not allow the crime to be investigated. This is untenable and unworthy of a democratic government.

"It's particularly notable that the judge cites correspondence in which an intelligence advisor wrote to Prime Minister Cameron that, "… even by Northern Ireland standards the facts are grisly. Moreover, in terms of allegations of British state "collusion' with loyalist paramilitaries, this is the big one… Some of the evidence available only internally could be read to suggest that within Government at a high level this systemic problem with loyalist agents was known, but nothing was done about it.' The following day the same advisor wrote to the Prime Minister, "this was an awful case and as bad as it gets.'

"All this underscores the need for justice and accountability in this case. Rather than compound its crime against the Finucane family and undermine the peace process by endless delays and legislative and legal maneuvering, we urge our respected friend and ally to honor its promise to hold a public judicial inquiry.

"Once again we encourage Prime Minister Cameron not to wait for a court to compel his government to call the promised inquiry -- but to do it now as a demonstration of his personal commitment to justice."

Rep. Chris Smith
Co-Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs

Rep. Peter King
Chairman, Friends of Ireland
Co-Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs

Rep. Richard Neal
Co-Chairman, Friends of Ireland

Congress has held 14 hearings, chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), on the Northern Ireland justice and peace process, many of them focused on issues of Northern Ireland police reform and government collusion in crimes of paramilitary organizations. Four of Rep. Smith's bills and resolutions have been passed addressing the British government's role in the murder of Pat Finucane, most recently H. Con. Res. 20 (110th Congress).


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