Tag Archives: Patrick McGeown,

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.

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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.

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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.

15th December – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

 

 

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

15th December

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Saturday 15 December 1979

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), under the new leadership of John Hume, took the decision to attend the Atkins conference.

Monday 15 December 1980

23 Republican prisoners join those already on hunger strike.

[Of the original seven hunger strikers, Sean McKenna’s medical condition was the most serious. McKenna was moved to Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast.]

Thursday 15 December 1988

Following a White Paper introduced on 25 May 1988 the British government brought forward a new Fair Employment Bill for Northern Ireland. The Fair Employment Agency (FEA) was replaced by the Fair Employment Commission (FEC). Compulsory monitoring of the religious composition of workforces of all companies with 25 or more employees was introduced.

Sunday 15 December 1991

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded an incendiary device at the National Gallery in London.

 

Tuesday 15 December 1992

There were reports in the press that alleged that a telephone belonging to John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), had been bugged.

Wednesday 15 December 1993

Downing Street Declaration

John Major, then British Prime Minister, and Albert Reynolds, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), issued a joint Declaration from 10 Downing Street, London (the document became known as the Downing Street Declaration).

The main aim of the two leaders was stated as: “to foster agreement and reconciliation, leading to a new political framework founded on consent and encompassing arrangements within Northern Ireland, for the whole island, and between these islands”.

Later in the House of Commons Major tried to address Unionist concerns about the Declaration by drawing attention to the matters that were not in the document:

“What is not in the Declaration is any suggestion that the British government should join the ranks of the persuaders of the value or legitimacy of a united Ireland”.

Speaking in the Dáil (the Irish parliament) Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), said that paramilitary groups would have to hand over their weapons following the end of violence.

Thursday 15 December 1994

A new coalition Government was formed in the Republic of Ireland. The coalition was comprised of Fine Gael (FG), the Labour Party (LP), and Democratic Left (DL). John Bruton, leader of FG, was elected Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). Dick Spring retained his position of Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

[Bruton had been a strong critic of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).]

A first meeting took place at Stormont between delegations from the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), and Northern Ireland Office (NIO) officials on behalf of the British Government.

Monday 15 December 1997

David Adams, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner who is a cousin of Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), began a case in the High Court in Belfast against the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). David Adams claimed that he had been seriously assaulted by RUC officers while he was being arrested in 1994.

[Later the court decided in his favour and Adams was awarded £30,000.]

The family of Robert Hamill launched an appeal for funds to allow them to bring a private prosecution against his killers and member of the RUC.

[Hamill, a Catholic civilian, was severely beaten in a sectarian attack by a gang of up to 30 loyalists in the centre of Portadown, County Armagh, on 27 April 1997 and died of his injuries on 8 May 1997. It was alleged that RUC officers in a vehicle nearby did not intervene to save his life.]

Wednesday 15 December 1999

Marion Price, a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner who had been convicted of causing explosions in London on 8 March 1973, was refused a visa to enter the USA. Price had been due to speak at a fundraising event in New York that had been organised by the Irish Freedom Committee.

Friday 15 December 2000

End of Loyalist Feud The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) issued a statement to announce an

“open-ended and all-encompassing cessation of hostilities”.

This marked the end of the Loyalist feud which had erupted in violence in August and had claimed the lives of seven men. The feud had also driven hundreds of families from their homes. The statement added:

“We fully recognise the pain and suffering that has been inflicted on our community and we resolve that under no circumstances will such events be repeated.”

Sinn Féin (SF) began a High Court case to challenge David Trimble’s refusal to nominate their attendance at North-South Ministerial Council meetings.

[At the time Trimble was First Minister of the Executive and was attempting to put pressure on SF on the issue of the decommissioning of Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons.]

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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.

10  people   lost their lives on the 15th December between 1972 -1991

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15 December 1972


James Reynolds,   (16)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot from passing motorcycle while standing on street corner, Dandy Street, Greencastle, Belfast.

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15 December 1972


George Chambers,   (44)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA)
Shot shortly after leaving house, Kilwilkie Gardens, Kilwilkie, Lurgan, County Armagh.

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15 December 1972
Frederick Greeves,   (40)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA)
Off duty. Shot as he left his workplace, creamery, Moy Road, Armagh.

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15 December 1973
Ivan Johnston,  (34)

Protestant
Status: ex-Royal Ulster Constabulary (xRUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Found shot, Derrynoose, near Keady, County Armagh.

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15 December 1973
James McGinn,   (20)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died in premature explosion while carrying bomb across bridge, near Clady, County Donegal.

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15 December 1974
John Mallon,  (21)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Died two weeks after being injured in bomb attack on Hughes Bar, Church Street, Newry, County Down. He was wounded on 29 November 1974.

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15 December 1975
Ronald Trainor,   (17)

Catholic
Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) member. Died a short time after being injured during a bomb attack on his home, Ballyoran Park, Portadown, County Armagh.

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15 December 1976


Norman Campbell,   (19)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while closing security barrier, High Street, Portadown, County Armagh.

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15 December 1976
 Patrick McGeown,   (25)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Barman. Shot while inside Mocking Bird Bar, Keady, County Armagh.

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15 December 1991


Colm Mahon,   (39)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO)
Shot at his workplace, Frames Snooker Hall, Little Donegall Street, Belfast.

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