From Socialist Voice, October 2004

British continue to cover up killings

The British government is to hold a judicial inquiry into the murder of the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, which took place in 1989. It has already held a number of inquiries into collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and British army and RUC agents in the murder of dozens of people throughout the North. One of the most significant of these was the murder of Pat Finucane.
     The Finucane family have been calling for a full public independent tribunal to investigate the circumstances surrounding the murder. The new proposal from the British government falls far short of this demand. The family have fears—fears shared by many, including the CPI—that yet another “inquiry” will not get to the truth.
     Paul Murphy, the British government’s secretary of state in the North of Ireland, says that the inquiry will be given all the powers and resources it will need. But he added an escape clause: “Because this case deals with issues of national security, much of the proceedings will have to take place in private.”
     This statement raises a number of questions. How does he know it involves Britain’s “national security”? By stating so, does this mean that the British at the highest level knew about and sanctioned the state killing of people whom it believed to be a threat? How will we know that the people giving evidence behind closed doors are the people who sanctioned this killing? Who will carry responsibility: a lowly official, some RUC Special Branch or British army agents? Will their political masters remain untouched?
     The Ulster Defence Association has claimed responsibility for the killing of Pat Finucane. On the night of the assassination an RUC road-block near the house was lifted shortly before the killers arrived. Brian Nelson, a British army double agent in the UDA, has admitted scouting out the Finucane home and giving the details to the killers.
     John Stevens, commissioner of London Metropolitan Police, has said that there was co-operation between “rogue” police and army officers and loyalist paramilitaries in the 1980s and 90s, and he has forwarded more than twenty files on former and serving police and soldiers to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
     Early this year a retired Canadian judge, Peter Cory, recommended a public inquiry, but the British government said this could not proceed, because there was a case before the courts in relation to the killing. Last week the loyalist killer Ken Barret appeared in court and admitted to killing Pat Finucane. Because he pleaded guilty, neither he nor the police have to present evidence or call witnesses; so no embarrassing evidence will appear in public.
     What will the Irish government do? Will it once again sit on the fence and say and do nothing? It seems to be all right to have open inquiries into IRA killings but not for state killings. The British establishment has always used covert activities, assassinations and bombings to “take out” its political opponents. This is the stock in trade of hired state killers. Nothing more than an open, public independent tribunal will do.

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