News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

February 27, 2009

Michael Breen & Top 40 Under 40

February 22, 2009

Branegan's Irish Pub Fund Raiser

February 16, 2009

Judge Cory Stresses Need For Pubic Inquiry

Judge Cory stresses need for public inquiry
Pat Finucane's widow marks anniversary of his murder
Funeral of playwright Hugh Leonard & Related Stories

Judge stresses need for public inquiry

CAROL COULTER, Legal Affairs Editor
Mon, Feb 16, 2009

A PUBLIC INQUIRY enabled people to be told what had gone wrong and make recommendations to ensure it did not happen again, Mr Justice Peter Cory told the conference.

The former Canadian Supreme Court judge was asked by the British government to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the solicitor’s murder after the Weston Park agreement in 2001, and his report led to an announcement that there would be an inquiry.

Referring to his inquiry, he said he examined thousands of documents from the Northern Ireland Office and the security services. It took 23 months and he then delivered his report to the two governments. “They disclosed sufficient evidence of collusion to indicate that there should be a public inquiry,” he said.

Mr Justice Cory said he could not reveal what was in this report, except that sufficient issues were raised in his mind to lead to the recommendation of a public inquiry. This would have powers of investigation, and wide powers of subpoena, along with power to retain counsel.

Time and cost were always a concern in such inquiries, he said, but these could be contained.

“The point is to say to the public this is what happened, and then to make recommendations, the whole point is to state what went wrong and make recommendations that it does not happen again.”

Dato Param Curaraswamy, former UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers who visited Northern Ireland in 1995, told the conference that he was convinced during that visit that defence lawyers were systematically harassed by the police.

Referring to a statement from former chief constable Ronnie Flanagan that he was unaware of any complaints, he said: “In the face of statements from local and international NGOs this statement is unsustainable. There was a lack of protection for defence lawyers.

“Pat Finucane was targeted by enemies of the rule of law. His murder had a chilling effect on the profession. It undermined the rule of law. People thought of giving up criminal practice. It undermined the rule of law in Northern Ireland.”

He said it was a matter of concern that there was no judicial inquiry despite assurances given to him by then prime minister Tony Blair.

The experience of the families of Stephen Lawrence and Jean Charles de Menezes showed that the authorities could be forced to respond to the need for the truth about what happened to their sons, according to leading English barrister Michael Mansfield.

© 2009 The Irish Times

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Pat Finucane's widow marks anniversary of his murder

CAROL COULTER, Legal Affairs Editor
Mon, Feb 16, 2009

THE 20TH anniversary of the murder of Pat Finucane reminds us that the residue of our unresolved past continues to cast a shadow over our society, his widow, Geraldine, told a conference on his life and legacy in Trinity College at the weekend.

Referring to the family’s campaign for an inquiry into his murder, she said: “I believe that the inquiry we seek, which is the only mechanism capable of getting to the truth in this case, will help society understand its past, learn from it and eventually move beyond it with confidence and free from fear.” She recalled meeting Pat Finucane when both were students in Trinity 40 years ago, she as a middle-class Presbyterian girl from east Belfast and he a working-class Catholic boy from west Belfast. They married in 1972.

“Our perspectives had been shaped by very different experiences, even at that early stage of our lives,” she said. “When I finished my first year in Trinity, I went travelling in Europe with friends. Pat went home to Belfast, to help family, friends and neighbours pack whatever they could carry into whatever they could push, pull or wheel away from the hordes of people burning houses and attacking the occupants, as violence exploded all over Belfast, and especially so on the Falls Road.” She described his setting up a legal practice with his friend Peter Madden, and finding innovative ways to fight for his clients through the courts.

“He used the making of wills to allow him to see persons in custody. He brought civil claims for compensation on behalf of people subject to arbitrary arrest and detention. He challenged norms of practice in areas such as policing and inquests by way of judicial review and developed the application of the mechanism beyond anything that had been tried before,” she said.

“In his short life, Pat was not prepared to sit by and do nothing. He wanted to participate in the world he lived, to be in it, and not merely on it. He was curious and he was imaginative and he was brave. It is for these reasons that we come here today, 20 years on, to remember him and to celebrate his most remarkable life,” she said.

She pointed out that the Lord Stevens inquiry into collusion had said Pat Finucane’s murder “could have been prevented” and that “there was collusion” in the murder and the circumstances surrounding it. He also found that “the RUC investigation of Patrick Finucane’s murder should have resulted in the early arrest and detection of his killers”, she said.

Following the Weston Park accord between the British and Irish governments, Mr Justice Peter Cory of the Canadian Supreme Court was appointed by the British government to examine the matter further. As a result of his report, the British government in September 2004 “concluded that steps should now be taken to enable the establishment of an inquiry into the death of Patrick Finucane”, she said. Yet this had not yet taken place.

Peter Madden told the conference that on the eve of the conference the campaign had received a letter from the Northern Ireland Office stating that it was working on a “draft restriction notice” for use in an inquiry under the 2005 Inquires Act, set up for this purpose. This would enable restrictions to be placed on the inquiry, so that some of it would not be in public.

It also referred to the consultative group on the past and its recommendations about dealing with the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland. It concluded: “All these matters, like the outcome of discussions with the Finucane family or their legal representatives about the form of any inquiry will, of course, be relevant factors for Ministers in deciding whether it remains in the public interest to proceed with an inquiry.”

“Now the whole question of a public inquiry is up in the air,” Mr Madden said. He pointed out that the kind of legacy commission proposed would have no provision for the cross-examination of people by legal representatives of those affected, and would avoid circulating documents. “We will find out who killed Pat Finucane, and, especially, who ordered it, who is accountable,” he said.

© 2009 The Irish Times

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Funeral of playwright Hugh Leonard takes place in Dublin

Mon, Feb 16, 2009

The funeral of playwright Hugh Leonard in the Church of the Assumption in Dalkey has taken place.

Leonard died in hospital on Thursday. He was 82 years of age. Born in 1926, the prolific playwright had been ill for some time.

Hugh Leonard was the pseudonym of John (Jack) Keyes Byrne, who was raised in Dalkey, Co Dublin.

He adopted the name in the 1950s while working in the Civil service fearing his employers would frown upon his writing.

His plays included T he Big Birthday , A Leap in the Dark, Stephen D , The Poker Session , The Patrick Pearse Motel , The Au Pair Manand Da.

Daran for nearly two years on Broadway and earned Leonard a Tony Award in 1977. It was later turned into a film starring Martin Sheen.

He published two hugely popular volumes of autobiography, Home Before Night(1979) and Out After Dark(1989). He also adapted a number of classic novels for British television, including Nicholas Nickleby and Wuthering Heights, and until recently penned The Curmudgeon column for the Sunday Independent.

Mourners gathered at the Church of the Assumption for Leonard's removal on Saturday were told that he was "a Dalkey monument" who had "nurtured and expressed" his gift.

© 2009

Related Stories:
Mourners told Leonard nurtured his gift
Removal service held for writer Hugh Leonard
Playwright with full mastery of his craft

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