Tuesday, January 18, 2011

WikiLeaks Cables Link Murder of Northern Ireland Civil Rights Lawyer Pat Finucane to British Government

By Jerry Smith Jan 18 2011

As the banking and financial world prepares to deal with the fallout from yesterdays handover of discs to Julian Assange, representing Wikileaks, from Rudolf Elmer, a former employee of Swiss-based Bank Julius Baer, cables already released are putting the British Government in hot water.

Cables released last month by Wikileaks from the former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern to U.S. diplomats show government collusion regarding the murder of Northern Irish civil rights lawyer Pat Finucane in 1989.

Finucane, a prominent civil rights and defence lawyer, was shot and killed in front of his wife and three small children. Two gunman from the loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Freedom Fighters, working with British security forces, burst into his home in Belfast wounding Pat and his wife Geraldine. One of the gunman then stood over him as he lay on the ground and fired 14 shots into his body and head.

There is speculation that he was targeted by Protestant terrorist groups, in collusion with the army's notorious and now-disbanded Forces Research Unit (FRU), the NI secret police, and/or MI5.

The cables leaked last month show Bertie Ahern told then US Ambassador James Kenny "everyone knows the UK was involved" in the murder. They also show U.S. diplomats were concerned that "elements of the security-legal establishments" in Britain were resisting an inquiry.

Finucane's family have repeatedly called for a full independent public enquiry and now, with the release of these cables by Wikileaks, Amnesty International and other rights groups are also demanding an independent public hearing into Finucane's murder.

Pat’s son Michael, a Dublin-based solicitor, told the Guardian "Some Americans might decry Julian Assange as some kind of anarchist – someone who should be locked up for a thousand years. But all WikiLeaks is doing is filling the vacuum created by governments unnecessarily". He also said "Progress under the previous [New Labour] administration had stalled and the UK government was displaying a marked reluctance to ever want to reopen it". Michael believes that Wikileaks adds more weight to the need for a public enquiry.

Amnesty International branded the government's failure to hold an independent inquiry into the 1989 murder of Patrick Finucane as "outrageous". Their criticism follows the release of US diplomatic cables, published by the Guardian , and obtained by the WikiLeaks website, which revealed that MI5 offered to hand over its files to any forthcoming inquiry.

Jane Winter, the director of British-Irish Rights Watch, said: "We welcome the publication of these documents by WikiLeaks and the Guardian. They confirm what we always knew, which is that international opinion, whether from Ireland or America, has long been of the view that Patrick Finucane's murder deserves an independent inquiry, and that so long as it remains unresolved there will be a gap in the peace process."

Amnesty International's UK director, Kate Allen, said "The UK government's failure to hold a properly independent inquiry into the killing of a prominent lawyer in this country is outrageous and with each day that passes and each new revelation that comes to light, that failure becomes yet more outrageous."

She also said "These new revelations show concerns that elements within the UK security establishment have sought – to date, successfully– to avoid an inquiry and, further, that MI5 holds important files on the killing that have yet to be disclosed."

She added: "Over 20 years on from the murder of Patrick Finucane, the truth about his killing is still being kept from his family and from the public. The UK government should establish an independent public inquiry without any further delay."

MI5's offer to share its files was revealed in a cable from June 2005, written by James C Kenny, the US Ambassador to Dublin, which reported on a meeting between Mitchell Reiss, the US special envoy to Northern Ireland and the head of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller.

In an account of the meeting between Reiss and Ahern, Kenny wrote: "Reiss briefed him on his talks in London, including with the head of MI5 [Eliza Manningham-Buller], who committed to turning over all evidence her agency has to the inquiry but she was adamant that the inquiry will proceed using the new legislation."

That new legislation was the Inquiries Act. The Inquiries Act which the UK Government rushed through in 2005, allowed any department under investigation (for example MI5) to dictate the terms and scope of the inquiry.

After qualifying from law-school, Pat Finucane set up his law firm with his co-partner Peter Madden in 1979. He was one of the first of a generation to take cases to Strasbourg and well known for his civil rights work. After his death his wife Geraldine said "Pat would have represented the people who shot him."

For those who would like to read more, here are a few other articles.

WikiLeaks data gives fresh impetus to Pat Finucane inquiry campaign

WikiLeaks links murder of Northern Ireland civil rights lawyer to British Government

The murder of Pat Finucane

Wikileaks - The Murder of Pat Finucane

Wikileaks: Ahern believed UK involved in Finucane murder

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousJune 16, 2011

    Why am I not surprised that a government would be involved with murder and coverup.