Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Calling on Government of United Kingdom to Establish Inquiry into Murder of Northern Ireland Defense Attorney Pat Finucane

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, H. Res. 740, which I introduced with bipartisan support, will do just what it says: provide a way forward for the Northern Ireland Peace Process.

I thank my colleague from Michigan, Mr. Thad McCotter, for managing this bill so ably on the floor. I thank Chairman Henry Hyde, Reps. Elton Gallegly, Peter King, Jim Walsh, Tom Lantos, the Ranking Member of the House International Relations Committee and many others for their work and support on this bill.

Yesterday, the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly met for the first time since 2002. Yet it still faces crucial challenges over community policing, and acceptance by the nationalist community of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). For the population of Northern Ireland to fully transfer its trust to the police, it must have confidence that the police and the authorities deserve trust and will be held accountable.

A key stumbling block to that greater acceptance has been the lack of resolution of charges of official collusion in the murder of human rights lawyer Patrick Finucane, who was gunned down in his home, in front of his wife and three small children, in 1989. Pat Finucane was not only a courageous human rights activist, but also a loving father and husband. His murder symbolizes the depth and danger of official State sponsored collusion in Northern Ireland. Resolving the questions surrounding this murder will help restore confidence in the agencies of government in the north, and allow Northern Ireland's still fragile peace to flourish in a new atmosphere of trust.

That is a major reason why this inquiry needs to be done, and done right, as soon as possible. This is the purpose of H. Res. 740, which calls on the British government to establish the kind of full, public, independent, judicial inquiry into Patrick Finucane's killing called for by Judge Peter Cory, an esteemed Supreme Court judge from Canada who was asked by the British and Irish Governments to investigate this murder and make a recommendation regarding the possibility of collusion.

H. Res. 740 calls for exactly the type of inquiry that nongovernmental human rights organizations, including British Irish Rights Watch, the Committee for the Administration of Justice, Human Rights First, and Amnesty International have demanded. This is what the Irish Government and Parliament have urged. It is what we in Congress have supported. In 1999 the House passed House Resolution 128, which I authored, and in 2003 the full Congress passed, and the President signed into law, Chairman Hyde's Foreign Relations Authorization Act (Public Law 107-228).

But most of all, this is what the Finucane family, which for 17 years has courageously campaigned for justice, for Pat Finucane and all the victims in Northern Ireland, has demanded. Let us once again join them in their struggle.

I have held eleven hearings on human rights and police reform in Northern Ireland since 1997. In every one of those hearings witnesses have testified to the central role the Finucane murder has played in advancing an atmosphere of distrust and no confidence in state agencies. We've had family members, other Northern Ireland attorneys, non-governmental human rights activists, as well as Mitch Reiss, President Bush's special envoy for the Northern Ireland Peace Process and Param Cumaraswamy, the United Nations' Special Rapporteur all testify that properly investigating this case is key to securing a just and lasting peace in Northern Ireland.

This is a crucial moment in the peace process in Northern Ireland. A credible public, independent, judicial inquiry into Pat Finucane's murder will help ensure confidence in the rule of law in the north of Ireland and will help bring the people of both sides of the divide to a just, stable and lasting peace which they richly deserve.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to again express my deepest condolences to the Finucane family and thank them for their courageous and tireless efforts on behalf of justice not only for their loved one but also for others who may have been victims of state-sponsored collusion in the north of Ireland. Similarly, I would like to acknowledge the work and support from many human rights activists including Jane Winter of British Irish Rights Watch, Elisa Massimino from Human Rights First formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights), and Maggie Beirne, Martin O'Brien and Paul Mageean who have testified before Congress on behalf of the Committee on the Administration of Justice. Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would also like to remind my colleagues of the riveting testimony offered on this matter in 1998 by Rosemary Nelson, an attorney from Northern Ireland who told Congress that defense attorneys there feared that they could be murdered themselves because no one had been held accountable in the murder of Patrick Finucane. Six months after her testimony, Rosemary Nelson was killed, the victim of a car bomb.

For the Finucanes, for Rosemary Nelson and her family, and for peace and justice in Northern Ireland, I urge my colleagues to vote to pass this important resolution.

I ask unanimous consent to include in the RECORD the statement from the Honorable Judge Peter Cory, March 15, 2005 and a copy of the resolution adopted by Dail Eireann on March 8th urging an independent, judicial, public inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane


Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top