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Pat Finucane’s son demands full public inquiry

THE son of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane has renewed the calls for a full public inquiry into the killing after newly declassified documents revealed that the British government knew his life was in danger.

Michael Finucane said the “murky truth” behind the killing remained shocking after Irish state papers revealed the government warned Downing Street of the risk to solicitors’ lives in the north of Ireland.

Concerns were raised by the Irish government with then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher four days before loyalist paramilitaries shot Mr Finucane 14 times in front of his children at his Belfast home in February 1989.

The murder followed explosive remarks by then Home Office minister Douglas Hogg, who claimed that there were solicitors in the north of Ireland who were “unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA.”

He refused to withdraw the comments made in the House of Commons despite knowing that certain solicitors were targets for loyalist paramilitaries.

The papers released as part of the 1989 state archive included a memo from the Irish ambassador to Britain, Andrew O’Rourke, outlining a meeting with British Cabinet Secretary Robin Butler. 

Mr O’Rourke had briefed him on a statement to be made by Irish Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

The memo reads: “Butler added one comment – ‘not for reporting.’ He thought it would appear that we were suggesting that Hogg bore some responsibility for Mr Finucane’s death and he regretted this.

“I said that in the circumstances of Northern Ireland extreme care is necessary in any public statements. 

“In further conversations, I emphasised particularly our wish to see an early statement correcting any impression that the British government considers lawyers defending paramilitaries as acting on anything other than a professional basis.”

The government knew there would be no censure of Mr Hogg as he “acted on official advice.”

“The advice in question came from the RUC [Royal Ulster Constabulary] via the Northern Ireland Office and the Home Office.

“There is reportedly a list which names three nationalist solicitors [Pat Finucane, Oliver Kelly and Paddy McGrory] and two [other] solicitors with loyalist sympathies.

“He [Hogg] had contemplated ‘naming names’ -– which had been provided to him – but had decided not to do so as this would be an abuse of parliamentary privilege.”

Pat Finucane was killed by the Ulster Defence Association, reportedly in collusion with the RUC and British intelligence service MI5.

The British government reneged on a promise to hold a full public inquiry, instead offering a review.

Michael Finucane insisted that an inquiry was needed to expose the truth about his father’s murder.

“The fact people who colluded to encourage and facilitate my father’s murder have never had to account publicly for their actions is nothing short of scandalous,” he said.

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