United Kingdom

Family of lawyer Pat Finucane say they seek Joe Biden's support for inquiry

The family of Pat Finucane say they will seek the support of President-Elect Joe Biden to push for an inquiry into his murder by Loyalist paramilitaries during the Troubles after it was ruled out by the Government. 

The lawyer's widow, Geraldine, and his three children were left furious on Monday after the Government said no to an immediate probe.

Mr Finucane's son, John, a solicitor and Sinn Fein MP for north Belfast, said Mr Biden had previously voiced support for his family's campaign and he would ask for his support again.

Solicitor Pat Finucane, 39, was shot by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his family in 1989

Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine, and three children (pictured is Katherine with her brother, John) were left furious on Monday after the Government said no to an immediate probe 

How and why was Pat Finicane murdered?

Pat Finucane was shot dead in front of his family in February 1989 by loyalists in an attack found to have involved collusion with the state.

The 39-year-old was shot 14 times while enjoying Sunday lunch at home with his family.

Previous investigations into the killing have already found that forces colluded in his murder.

Then it was discovered that two agents within the paramilitary group the Ulster Defence Association had been working for the army and the police.

The pair had played a crucial role in deciding to select Mr Finucane to be murdered and even supplied on of the guns

Another probe found out MI5 had ignored intelligence he was under threat.

The revelations saw then Prime Minister David Cameron issue an apology for 'frankly shocking levels of collusion'.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said he was not taking a public inquiry off the table but said further examinations of the case by police and a police watchdog should conclude first. 

Mr Finucane, 39, who represented republican and loyalist paramilitaries during the conflict, was shot dead in his family home in north Belfast in February 1989 by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in an attack found to have involved collusion with the state.

The Irish Government and 24 members of US congress were among those urging the UK Government to order an inquiry ahead of Monday's announcement.

John Finucane told the BBC: 'When he was then Senator Biden as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he supported our calls for an inquiry.

'I appreciate he's going to be in arguably the busiest role on the planet, so we aren't we aren't blind to that, but President-Elect Biden has already shown a clear interest in Irish affairs, he has history in supporting our campaign.

'We will be seeking his fresh support on this matter and I think that we can enjoy a degree of confidence that given the bipartisan way in which we have received support from America this is something that may well enjoy his future support.'

Mr Finucane added: 'As my mum said very well yesterday: our campaign will continue.'

Explaining why the Government had decided against a public inquiry at this stage, Mr Lewis told Parliament outstanding issues before the Police Ombudsman's office concerning original police investigations should be addressed first.

Mr Finucane's son John, a solicitor and Sinn Fein MP for north Belfast, said Mr Biden had previously voiced support for his family's campaign

Pat Finucane's clients

During his work as a lawyer Pat Finucane represented many high-profile IRA prisoners.

The most notorious was Pat McGeown, who was charged with helping to organise the murder of two Army corporals,

TV cameras computed the moment mourners dragged them from their car. Later they were taken to wasteland where they were executed by the IRA.

Mr Finucane got the charges dropped but a picture of him outside the court was passed to his eventual killers.

But his most famous client was hunger striker and IRA member Bobby Sands. Sands had been jailed for 14 years for firearms possession and started his refusal to eat on March 1, 1981.

He and other prisoners in the Maze had a series of demands including not wearing a uniform and getting a visit a week. Sands died after 66 days of hunger strike on May 5 aged 27. 

He said there could also be a review of the case by police officers at the start of next year, potentially carried out by a force from outside Northern Ireland.

Following Monday's announcement, the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Simon Byrne, made clear there were no new lines of inquiry in the case.

Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine and the couple's three children have been campaigning for decades for a public inquiry to establish the extent of security force involvement.

Last year, the Supreme Court said all previous examinations of the death had not been compliant with human rights standards.

The Supreme Court acknowledged Mrs Finucane had been given an 'unequivocal undertaking' by the Government following the 2001 Weston Park agreement with the Irish Government that there would be a public inquiry into the murder.

However, the judges found that the Government had been justified in later deciding against holding one.

The court said it was up to the Government to decide what form of investigation was now required, if one was feasible.

Amid an almost two-year Government delay in responding to the judgment, Mrs Finucane took fresh judicial review proceedings against the state.

Monday's announcement by Mr Lewis represented the Government's formal response to the Supreme Court's ruling. 

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