Tag Archives: Patrick Finucane,

Pat Finucane – 12th February 1989 Executed by the UFF

Patrick Finucane

Image result for patrick finucane

Patrick Finucane (1949 – 12 February 1989) was a Northern Irish human rights lawyer killed by loyalist paramilitaries acting in collusion with the British government intelligence service MI5

In 2011 British Prime Minister David Cameron met with Pat Finucane’s family and admitted the collusion, although no member of the British security services has yet been prosecuted.

Image result for David Cameron belfast

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 – Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in these pages/documentaries are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

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Finucane’s killing was one of the most controversial during the Troubles in Northern IrelandFinucane came to prominence due to successfully challenging the British government in several important human rights cases during the 1980s. 

He was shot fourteen times as he sat eating a meal at his Belfast home with his three children and his wife, who was also wounded during the attack.

In September 2004, an Ulster Defence Association member, and at the time of the murder a paid informant for the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Ken Barrett, pleaded guilty to his murder. 

After much international pressure, the British government eventually announced that an inquiry would be held. This was one result of an agreement made between the British and Irish governments at Weston Park in 2001. The British government said it would comply with the terms agreed by the two governments at Weston Park.

They agreed to appoint an international judge that would review Finucane’s case and if evidence of collusion was found, a public inquiry would be recommended.  The British government reneged on this promise to Finucane’s family after the international judge found evidence of collusion.[10] The Daily Telegraph quoted Prime Minister David Cameron saying:

“[there are] people in buildings all around here who won’t let it happen”.

Two public investigations concluded that elements of the British security forces colluded in Finucane’s murder and there have been high-profile calls for a public inquiry. However, in October 2011, it was announced that a planned public inquiry would be replaced by a less wide-ranging review.

Image result for Desmond Lorenz de Silva

This review, led by Desmond Lorenz de Silva, released a report in December 2012 acknowledging that the case entailed:

“a wilful and abject failure by successive Governments”.

Finucane’s family called the De Silva report a “sham

Background

Born into a Catholic family in 1949, Finucane was the eldest child, with six brothers and one sister. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin in 1973.

One of his brothers, John, a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) member, was killed in a car crash in the Falls Road, Belfast, in 1972.

Another brother, Dermot, successfully contested attempts to extradite him to Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland for his part in the killing of a prison officer; he was one of 38 IRA prisoners who escaped from HMP Maze in 1983.

A third brother Seamus was the fiancé of Mairead Farrell, one of the IRA trio shot dead by the Special Air Service (SAS) in Gibraltar in March 1988.  Seamus was the leader of an IRA unit in west Belfast before his arrest in 1976 with Bobby Sands and seven other IRA men, during an attempt to destroy Balmoral’s furniture store in south Belfast.

Image result for Finucane's wife, Geraldine,

He was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment. Finucane’s wife, Geraldine, whom he met at Trinity College, is the daughter of middle-class Protestants; together they had three children.

His uncle Brendan ‘Paddy’ Finucane was an ace fighter pilot praised by Churchill for his heroism.

Pat Finnucane with Patrick McGeown

 

Pat Finucane’s best-known client was the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. He also represented other IRA and Irish National Liberation Army hunger strikers who died during the 1981 Maze prison protest, Brian Gillen, and the widow of Gervaise McKerr, one of three men shot dead by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in a shoot-to-kill incident in 1982.

In 1988, he represented Pat McGeown, who was charged in connection with the Corporals killings, and was photographed with McGeown outside Crumlin Road Courthouse.

Killing

Finucane was shot dead at his home in Fortwilliam Drive, north Belfast, by Ken Barrett and another masked man using a Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistol and a .38 revolver respectively. He was hit 14 times.

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The two gunmen knocked down the front door with a sledgehammer and entered the kitchen where Finucane had been having a Sunday meal with his family; they immediately opened fire and shot him twice, knocking him to the floor. Then while standing over him, the leading gunman fired 12 bullets into his face at close range.

Gerldine Finucane

Finucane’s wife Geraldine was slightly wounded in the shooting attack which their three children witnessed as they hid underneath the table. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) immediately launched an investigation into the killing.

The senior officer heading the CID team was Detective Superintendent Alan Simpson, who set up a major incident room inside the RUC D Division Antrim Road station. Simpson’s investigation ran for six weeks and he later stated that from the beginning, there had been a noticeable lack of intelligence coming from the other agencies regarding the killing.

Finucane’s killing was widely suspected by human rights groups to have been perpetrated in collusion with officers of the RUC and, in 2003, the British Government Stevens Report stated that the killing was indeed carried out with the collusion of police in Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Defence Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters (UDA/UFF) claimed they killed the 39-year-old solicitor because he was a high-ranking officer in the IRA. Police at his inquest said they had no evidence to support this claim. Finucane had represented republicans in many high-profile cases, but he had also represented loyalists.

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Several members of his family had republican links, but the family strongly denied Finucane was a member of the IRA. Informer Sean O’Callaghan has claimed that he attended an IRA finance meeting alongside Finucane and Gerry Adams in Letterkenny in 1980.

However both Finucane and Adams have consistently denied being IRA members.

In Finucane’s case, both the RUC and the Stevens Report found that he was not a member of the IRA. Republicans have strongly criticised the claims made by O’Callaghan in his book ‘The Informer’ and subsequent newspaper articles. One Republican source says O’Callaghan:

“…has been forced to overstate his former importance in the IRA and to make increasingly outlandish accusations against individual republicans.”

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Patrick Finucane and State collusion

 

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Later investigations into the murder

In 1999, the third inquiry of John Stevens into allegations of collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries concluded that there was such collusion in the murders of Finucane and Brian Adam Lambert.

As a result of the inquiry, RUC Special Branch agent and loyalist quartermaster William Stobie, a member of the Ulster Defence Association was later charged with supplying one of the pistols used to kill Finucane, but his trial collapsed because he claimed that he had given information about his actions to his Special Branch handlers.

The pistol belonged to the UDA, which at the time was a legal organisation under British law. A further suspect, Brian Nelson, was a member of the Army’s Force Research Unit. He had provided information about Finucane’s whereabouts, and also claimed that he had alerted his handlers about the planned killing.

See : Force Research Unit 

In 2000, Amnesty International demanded that the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Mandelson, open a public inquiry into events surrounding his death. In 2001 as a result of the Weston Park talks, a retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory was appointed by the British and Irish governments to investigate the allegations of collusion by the RUC, British Army and the Gardaí in the killing of Finucane, Robert Hamill and other individuals during the Troubles.

Cory reported in April 2004, and recommended public enquiries be established including the case of the Finucane killing.

In 2004, a former policeman, Ken Barrett, pleaded guilty to Finucane’s murder. His conviction came after a taped confession to the police, lost since 1991, re-surfaced.

In June 2005, the then Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told a US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland that “everyone knows” the UK government was involved in the murder of Pat Finucane.

On 17 May 2006, the United States House of Representatives then passed a resolution calling on the British government to hold an independent public inquiry into Finucane’s killing.

Initial investigations

A public inquiry was announced by the British Government in 2007, but it was halted under the Inquiries Act 2005, which empowers the government to block scrutiny of state actions. Finucane’s family criticised its limited remit and announced that they would not co-operate. Judge Peter Cory also strongly criticised the Act.

Amnesty International logo.svg

Amnesty International has reiterated its call for an independent inquiry, and have called on members of the British judiciary not to serve on the inquiry if it is held under the terms of the Act.

Finucane’s widow, Geraldine (born 1950), has written letters repeating this request to all the senior judges in Great Britain, and took out a full-page advertisement in the newspaper The Times to draw attention to the campaign. In June 2007, it was reported that no police or soldiers would be charged in connection with the killing.

On 11 October 2011, members of the Finucane family met with Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street. Cameron provided them with an official apology for state collusion into Pat Finucane’s death. Following the meeting, Finucane’s son Michael said that he and the family had been “genuinely shocked” to learn that the Cory recommendation of a public enquiry, previously accepted by Tony Blair, would not be followed, and that a review of the Stevens and Cory casefiles would be undertaken instead.

 Geraldine Finucane described the proposal as:

“nothing less than an insult…a shoddy, half-hearted alternative to a proper public inquiry”.

The following day, the official apology was given publicly in the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson.[35]

De Silva report

Sir Desmond de Silva

On 12 December 2012, the government released the Pat Finucane Review, the results of the inquiry conducted by Sir Desmond de Silva.

The report documented extensive evidence of State collaboration with Loyalist gunmen, including the selection of targets, and concluded that “there was a wilful and abject failure by successive governments to provide the clear policy and legal framework necessary for agent-handling operations to take place effectively within the law.”

William Stobie.jpg

See : William Stobie 

Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged “shocking levels of collusion” and issued an apology.

However, Finucane’s family denounced the De Silva report as a “sham” and a “suppression of the truth” into which they were allowed no input.

In May 2013, state documents dated 2011 disclosed through the courts revealed that David Cameron’s former director of security and intelligence, Ciarán Martin, had warned him that senior members of Margaret Thatcher’s government may have been aware of “a systemic problem with loyalist agents” at the time of Pat Finucane’s death but had done nothing about it.

Posthumous

Finucane’s law firm, Madden & Finucane Solicitors, led by Peter Madden, continues to act for those it considers to have been victims of mistreatment by the State, or their survivors. The Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), named in his honour, is a human rights advocacy and lobbying entity in Northern Ireland.

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 – Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in these pages/documentaries are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

12th February – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

12th February

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Tuesday 12 February 1974

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb at the National Defence College at Latimer, Buckinghamshire, England. The bomb (estimated at 20 pounds) injured 10 people but there were no deaths.

Wednesday 12 February 1975

A series of seven ‘Incident Centres’ were established in Nationalist areas across Northern Ireland to monitor the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire and the response of the security forces. The centres were manned by members of Sinn Féin (SF) who liased with government officials at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).

Thursday 12 February 1976

Frank Stagg, a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), died after 61 days on hunger strike in Wakefield Prison, Yorkshire, England. Stagg had been on hunger strike in protest at the British government’s refusal to transfer him to a prison in Northern Ireland.

A member of the RUC was shot dead by the IRA in Claudy, County Derry. A member of the youth section of the IRA was killed during an arson atttach on a warehouse in Belfast.

Talks between the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) broke down after only an hour. The UUUC would not agree on SDLP involvement in any future Northern Ireland cabinet.

[This was a key element as far as Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, was concerned. The final meeting of the Convention took place on 3 March 1976. The British government brought the Convention to an end on 5 March 1976.] [ Constitutional Convention. ]

Thursday 12 February 1981

Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), was suspended from the House of Commons when he repeatedly called Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, a liar. [ Political Developments; Employment.]

Friday 12 February 1982

Three of the five members of the Committee of Inquiry set up to investigate the Kincora Scandal resigned. They claimed that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) had not dealt with all the major criminal matters surrounding the case. The DeLorean Motor Company laid off 1,100 of its 2,600 workers.

[This was a major blow to the economically deprived area of west Belfast.]

Thursday 12 February 1987

Unionist Petition A 400,000 signature petition was delivered to Buckingham Palace by Unionist Members of Parliament (MPs). The petition was in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Sunday 12 February 1989

Finucane Killing

See Pat Finucane Post

Patrick Finucane (38), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). Finucane was a Belfast solicitor who had represented a number of Republicans. He was killed at his home, Fortwilliam Drive, off Antrim Road, Belfast, in front of the members of his family.

The shooting followed comments made (on 17 January 1989) by Douglas Hogg, then a British Home Office Minister, about a “number of solicitors in Northern Ireland who are unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA”.

[There were a number of accusations that there had been collusion between Loyalist paramilitaries and the security forces in the killing of Finucane. There were futher claims of collusion on 29 August 1989. On 17 April 1999 John Stevens, then deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, returned to Northern Ireland to launch a third Inquiry specifically into the killing of Finucane. He also began to investigate allegations raised by campaign group British-Irish Rights Watch and the United Nations. Stevens’ third report was presented to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on 17 April 2003. The report concluded that there had been collusion in the killing of Finucane between members of the security forces, especially the Force Research Unit (FRU), and Loyalists. See: Stevens summary report.]

Monday 12 February 1990

Harold McCusker, then Deputy Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Member of Parliament (MP) for Upper Bann, died as a result of cancer at the age of 50. The Green Party, a political party with a mainly environmental platform, was launched in Northern Ireland.

Thursday 12 February 1993

Christopher Harte (24), a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), was found dead near Castlederg, County Tyrone. He had been shot dead by the IRA who claimed that he had been an informer.

Saturday 12 February 1994

The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), carried out rocket attack on the headquarters of Sinn Féin (SF) in west Belfast.

Wednesday 12 February 1997

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot dead Stephen Restorick, then a British soldier, at an Army checkpoint in Bessbrook, County Armagh.

[This killing was often refered to as the last British soldier killed in Northern Ireland, until 7 March 2009 when two soldiers were killed by the Real IRA in County Antrim.]

See : Stephen Restorick

12 February 1998

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement which said that the IRA’s ceasefire was still intact.

[This was seen as an attempt to prevent Sinn Féin (SF) from being expelled from the multi-party talks.]

Friday 12 February 1999

The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) denied that it was involved in recent attacks on Catholic homes and businesses. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), gave an interview to the Press Association in which he said that Northern Ireland would be moving into a united Ireland in 15 years’ time.

[Reference may have been to the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916?]

Tuesday 12 February 2002

The High Court in Belfast heard an appeal by lawyers representing the Bloody Sunday Inquiry for the court to postpone a court action brought (on 11 February 2002) by the families of those killed.

The action surrounded the Inquiry’s decision to allow police witnesses to give evidence from behind screens. The action was allowed to proceed and the Inquiry’s appeal was dismissed.

[On Wednesday 13 February 2002 the judge announced he would make a final decision on the families’ action during the following week.]

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) put forward a motion in the Northern Ireland Assembly that all primary school pupils should receive souvenir medals to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. The motion was passed by 26 votes to 11 votes. Martin McGuinness (SF), then Minister for Education, said that his department would not pay for the medals. David Trimble (UUP), then First Minister, and Mark Durkan (SDLP), then Deputy First Minister, announced that they would begin a consultation process on a comprehensive review of public administration in Northern Ireland.

Among the matters for review are: local government structures (the 26 district councils); the five education and library boards; the four health boards; and the many unelected quangos (committees) that manage many areas of public administration.

The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, a group based in the United States of America (USA), published a report in to the death of Pat Finucane, a Belfast solicitor killed on 12 February 1989. The report was entitled: ‘Beyond Collusion: The UK Security Forces and the Murder of Pat Finucane’ [PDF FILE 324KB]. The report repeated earlier allegations of collusion between security forces and Loyalist paramilitary groups and also claimed to have found new evidence to support the claims.

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Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the death of the following  people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live  forever

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

9 People   lost their lives on the 12th February  between  1974 – 1997

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12 February 1974


Peter Carty,   (57)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Shot at his workplace, Balmoral Service Station, Lisburn Road, Belfast.

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12 February 1976


Frank Stagg,  (34)

nfNIB
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: not known (nk)
Originally from County Mayo. Died on 62 day of hunger strike, Wakefield Prison, Yorkshire, England.

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12 February 1976


William Hamer,   (31)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) foot patrol, Claudy, County Derry

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12 February 1976


James O’Neill, (17)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army Youth Section (IRAF),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died when badly burnt during arson attack on furniture warehouse, Antrim Road, New Lodge, Belfast.

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12 February 1977


Samuel McKane,  (33)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot outside his home, Cloughmills, County Antrim.

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12 February 1979
Patrick Sills,  (27)

nfNI
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
From County Donegal. Found shot in field, Laghtfoggy, near Castlederg, County Tyrone. Internal IRA dispute

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12 February 1989


Patrick Finucane,  (38)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Lawyer. Shot at his home, Fortwilliam Drive, off Antrim Road, Belfast

See Pat Finucane Post

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12 February 1993
Christopher Harte,   (24)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Found shot in ditch by side of Carn Road, near Castlederg, County Tyrone. Alleged informer.

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12 February 1997


Stephen Restorick,  (23)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot, by sniper, while at British Army (BA) Vehicle Check Point (VCP), Green Road, Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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See Bombardier Stephen Restorick – Last soldier killed in Northern