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February 12, 2005

02/12/05 –Lawyer Pat Finucane Murdered 16 Yrs Ago Today

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

Pat Finucane Mural
"Pat Finucane 1949 - 1989. Human Rights Activist. Targeted by British Establishment. Executed by Loyalist killer gang. "If you don't defend human rights lawyers, who will defend human rights?" - Rosemary Nelson". Portrait of Pat Finucane on the telephone painted by Danny Devenney and Marty Lyons in the wake of the publication of the Steven's Enquiry and the arrest of Ken Barrett on suspicion of his murder. See also No.209 Album 6 No.234 Album 7, No.344 Album 10, No.1443 Album 41 and CAIN photograph.

BB 02/12/05 02/12/89: Belfast Lawyer Finucane Murdered -V
RT 02/12/05 RTE: Pat Finucane Profile
PF 11/26/04 Finucane Family Reject Legislation
PF 01/24/05 Brit/Irish Rights Watch Concerns re: Inquiries Bill
BB 06/12/02 2002 Panorama Rpt On Finucane's Murder -V(4) A(1) T(2)


Video: BBC Video: The BBC's Denis Murray reports: "The murder of a practising solicitor adds a new dimension to Northern Ireland's troubles"

On Feb 12, 1989: Belfast Lawyer Finucane Murdered -V

Leading solicitor Pat Finucane has been shot dead at his home in north Belfast.

The killers burst in as he was eating his Sunday dinner with his wife and three children. Two gunmen showered him with 14 bullets and shot his wife in the ankle. Mrs Finucane is being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds to her legs. The hijacked taxi the gunmen escaped in has been found in the Protestant Shankhill Road area.

A tragic and wicked killing
Tom King, Northern Ireland Secretary

Belfast lawyers have been deeply shocked by the murder of their high profile colleague. The Northern Ireland Law Society reacted swiftly with "disbelief". Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) politicians have blamed junior Home Office minister Douglas Hogg for his remarks last month about some lawyers in northern Ireland being "unduly sympathetic" to the IRA.

'Wicked killing'

Mr Hogg issued a statement condemning the shooting hours after it happened. "This is clearly, like so many others a tragic and wicked killing. As to its cause, that must be a matter for the RUC.

"I very much hope those people responsible will be arrested, and sentenced to extremely long terms of imprisonment," he said.

Northern Ireland Secretary Tom King said: "No civilised society can tolerate murder."

Most recently Pat Finucane had been involved in the defence cases for 23 men involved with the murder of two British soldiers during an IRA funeral last summer. His most famous client was republican hunger striker Bobby Sands.

In Context

Loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Freedom Fighters admitted the killing the next day.

However, no individual was charged with the murder until May 2003, when loyalist paramilitary Ken Barrett was arrested.

Initially, he denied the charges, but then confessed during his trial at Belfast Crown Court in September 2004.

He was sentenced to 22 years in prison, but is likely to qualify for early release under the Good Friday Agreement.

An inquiry into the murder by Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner John Stevens (later Commissioner Sir John Stevens), was published in April 2003.

It found there had been collusion by "rogue elements" of the police in Northern Ireland to help loyalist paramilitaries to murder Catholics in the late 1980s. It also concluded that there was such collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane, and that the killing could have been prevented.

The majority of the Stevens report, however, was withheld because of potential prosecutions in the future.

The report was dismissed by the Finucane family, who are continuing to campaign for a full independent public inquiry into the killing.


Finucane Profile
Pat Finucane – 38 Years Old When Murdered

RTE: Pat Finucane Profile

On 12 February, 1989, armed Loyalists burst into the home of Belfast solicitor, Patrick Finucane. They shot him 14 times in front of his wife and children, killing him and wounding his wife.

Thirty-eight years old at the time, Mr Finucane and his wife Gerladine had three children and lived on Antrim Road in North Belfast. Michael, Katherine, and John were 17, 12, and nine years of age.

Mr Finucane was a well-known and successful solicitor in Belfast, with the firm Madden and Finucane. He had defended a number of high profile cases involving Nationalist clients. Loyalists have alleged that Mr Finucane was active in the IRA.

The Ulster Freedom Fighters, in a statement following his killing, said that they had killed "Pat Finucane, the IRA officer". In the weeks prior to the killing, a British Government Minister, Douglas Hogg, said at Westminster that a number of solicitors in Northern Ireland were known to be sympathetic to one or other terrorist organisation.

When questioned further, he added only that "...I state it on the basis of advice that I have received, guidance that I have been given by people who are dealing with these matters, and I shall not expand on it further."

These allegations have been flatly denied by Mr Finucane's family, and police officers in the North. At the inquest following his death, an RUC officer described Mr Finucane as a law-abiding citizen, going about his profession in a professional manner.

The RUC unequivocally stated that Patrick Finucane was not a member of the IRA or any other paramilitary organization.

No one has been convicted of Mr Finucane's murder, but several arrests have been made. In 1999, the RUC appointed Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner John Stevens to investigate Mr Finucane's death. The investigation was dubbed "Stevens 3", as Sir John Stevens had conducted two previous inquiries in the North.

William Stobie, a former Loyalist/RUC Special Branch double agent, was brought to trial by the Stevens Inquiry for an alleged involvement in the killing, including supply of weapons. The trial collapsed when the lead prosecution witness was deemed unfit to give evidence on mental health grounds. Stobie was acquitted, but was shot dead by Loyalists days later, on 12 December 2001.

His death, and the lack of a resolution to the case, prompted Mr Finucane's family to repeat calls for a full public inquiry into the Finucane killing.

Allegations that the RUC and British Army (Force Research Unit) colluded with Loyalist gangs to kill suspected IRA members in the North have led to numerous such calls from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Amnesty International and several other human rights groups, lawyers and judges, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Dato' Param Cumaraswany, for a public inquiry into Mr Finucane's death.


Geraldine Finucane
Geraldine Finucane

Finucane Home
Pat Finucane was murdered at his home in 1989

Family Reject Legislation

Finucane family press statement in response to the Inquiries Bill published today (26.11.2004)

This bill does not comply with the recommendations of Judge Cory.

The British Government agreed at Weston Park that "In the event that a public inquiry is recommended [by Cory] in any case, the relevant government will implement that recommendation".

Judge Cory recommended a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Pat's murder and identified the "basic requirements" for a public inquiry. One of these requirements was stated to be that "the Tribunal should have full power to subpoena witnesses and documents together with all the powers usually exercised by a Commissioner in a public inquiry. Clause 17 of the Bill is a wholesale departure from the Weston Park Agreement and the Cory Recommendation in that an inquiry established under this draft legislation will not have all the powers usually exercised by a Commissioner in a public inquiry since, it gives the Minister the power to determine when the inquiry sits in private and what material is to be withheld. These are self-evidently amongst the most important powers exercised by inquiries.

Furthermore, this provision in the bill attacks the very independence of any such inquiry since it will not be vested with exclusive jurisdiction and control which is the very hallmark of independence. In addition and in order to be truly independent the tribunal will have to be international in character and be composed of judges of standing equivalent to Judge Cory. The Finucane family cannot take part in any inquiry established under these conditions.

We call upon all those who signed up to the Weston Park principles to ensure that they are fulfilled and that Judge Cory's recommendation is implemented in full.


Pat Finucane
The Pat Finucane Inquiry – Where is it?

British Irish Rights Watch Concerns About Finucane Inquiries Bill

On Monday 24th January the Joint Committee on Human Rights, a parliamentary committee made up of members of both Houses of Parliament which monitors the compatibility of legislation with the European Convention of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998, published its report on the Inquiries Bill. A copy of the relevant section of the report is attached and is also available at

The Committee expressed a number of concerns about the suitability of the Bill's provisions when it comes to providing an effective investigation in cases involving the right to life (Article 2 of the Convention) and the right to freedom from torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 3). Their concerns are highlighted in bold by the Committee themselves. In relation to the right to life, the Committee makes reference to the case of Patrick Finucane.

In particular, the Committee has expressed concern about:

the exercise of the Minister's power to suspend an inquiry and its potential to compromise the independence of an inquiry (paragraph 2.15 of the report)

the risk that suspension would negate the requirement for promptness and reasonable expedition (paragraph 2.29)

the power to issue restriction notices limiting attendance at inquiries or the disclosure of evidence or documents, which the Committee says could compromise the independence of the inquiry and violate Article 2 (paragraph 2.19)

the possibility that restriction notices could impair an inquiry's effectiveness by limit public accountability and restricting the access of next-of-kin to the inquiry's proceedings, in breach of Article 2 (paragraph 2.26)

the Minister's power over the publication of an inquiry's findings, which could compromise independence and the appearance of independence, and violate Article 2 - the Committee considers the inquiry chair should be responsible for publication of the report (paragraph 2.20)

the Minister's power to withhold funding should the inquiry stray outside its terms of reference, which undermines the role of the chair and creates the potential for undue ministerial influence (paragraph 2.21)

the Minster's discretion to appoint a person to an inquiry despite that person's interest in or association with the matters under investigation by the inquiry (paragraph 2.22)

the possibility that family members might not receive legal aid (funding for legal representation) for inquiries (paragraph 2.28).

All these concerns apply to both the right to life and to the right to freedom from torture.

In sum, the Committee has expressed major concerns that the Bill as it stands is at odds with important human rights protections.


Michael Finucane & Patrick Finucane
Michael Finucane witnessed his father's murder - 16-year wait for Finucane answers

Video: Northern Ireland forum - Panorama reporter John Ware, who has spent 13 years investigating the collusion between military intelligence and loyalist murder gangs, and Michael Finucane, who saw his father murdered, answered your questions in a live forum on Monday 24 June.

Video: Ken Barrett - "Finucane would have been alive today if the Peelers hadn't interfered."

Video: Alan Simpson, Detective Superintendent RUC 1970-93 - "This was a most vicious and angry attack... particularly venemous... so much hate attached."

Video: Det. Sgt. Benwell, of the Stevens Inquiry 1989-1994 - On how he thinks the army is not telling the truth about the murder of Finucane.

Audio: BBC Panorama producer Eamon Hardy - "The documents that we have... present a very, very dark picture"

Transcript: BBC Panorama: A Licence to Murder Part one

Transcript: BBC Panorama: A Licence to Murder Part two

Tuesday, 18 June, 2002, 21:09 GMT 22:09 UK

2002 Panorama Report On Pat Finucane's Murder -V(4) A(1) T(2)

Michael Finucane witnessed his father's murder

13-year wait for Finucane answers

Patrick Finucane, a high profile lawyer, was shot dead in front of his family at home in Belfast, in 1989.

In a major, two-part Panorama report, his son Michael speaks out about the traumatic attack and the answers that he and others are still waiting for.

"I remember sitting at the dinner table... There was a bang from the hallway, not a bang that sounded like a gunshot - it sounded like a kick or a... a force being applied to... in this case a door, our front door...

"My father jumped up from the top end of the table and my mother behind him. He looked out of the kitchen door and down the hallway and saw what was coming towards him...

Michael Finucane: "we are entitled to answers"

"He closed... he slammed the door shut, held it shut by the handle while my mother ran behind him and hit the personal attack button...

"The next thing I remember is being on the floor, against the wall in the corner, holding my younger brother and sister and shots going off very loud and it seemed like forever...

"At that point my memory blanks but the thing I remember most is the noise... It's a place I don't care to visit very often, but I know it's there, and sometimes... sometimes I go back and visit, but not often. I try not to dwell on it."

Targeted by police

In one of the most controversial murders of the Northern Ireland "troubles", Patrick Finucane had been selected by the police as a target for assassination.

In his work, he had defended many active IRA clients. One was Patrick McGeown, who had been accused of organising the killing of two army corporals. Finucane got the charges dropped.

His son Michael said: "he was a young lawyer... and as any person in the legal business will tell you, his best years were in front of him... The work he was doing was high profile due to the nature of the work and the controversy that surrounded many of the issues."

IRA allegations an 'insult'

Patrick Finucane defended IRA clients but he was not an IRA member himself

But some detectives made no distinction between Pat Finucane the solicitor and his clients.

Military intelligence had recorded in their secret files that Pat Finucane was "sympathetic to the Provisional IRA".

Michael told Panorama: "I feel that it's an insult, an egregious insult. It was easy for them to believe... that he was a member of the IRA.

"I think their limited mentalities did not stretch to differentiating between the role of the lawyer and the offence suspected of the client. The line between the two was not apparent to them."

Unanswered questions

Patrick Finucane was not the only innocent, Catholic civilian to be murdered in this way.

So many people have been asked to swallow so much pain

Michael Finucane

And his case was not the only one that Military Intelligence tried to cover up and deny responsibility for.

"So many people, I think, have been asked to swallow so much pain and have done so, my family included. But if we are prepared to do that, then we ought not to be expected to put up with lies and deceit as well."

The head of the Metropolitan Police in London, Sir John Stevens, has been investigating the death of Patrick Finucane since 1999.

His report, due later this month, is hoped to provide some answers for the families of murder victims who have been waiting for thirteen years.

In Michael Finucane's words: "there are a lot of other people out there who are entitled to answers."

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

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