There is no legal or moral obligation to provide yet another inquiry into Pat Finucane’s killing

There has been a recent flurry of activity amongst nationalist legacy activists and their surrogates, demanding the Government fulfils its ‘obligation’ to order a public inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane. In fact, there is no such obligation, either morally or legally.

There is no legal or moral obligation to provide yet another inquiry into Pat Finucane’s killing

By Jamie Bryson

In the midst of all this contrived noise- amplified of course by the BBC- there is a fundamental mistruth; namely that the Supreme Court ordered an inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane. It was notable that Sinn Fein press officer Sean Maguire- despite the BBC establishment been increasingly more overtly nationalist leaning- still launched into a criticism of the BBC’s audacity in pointing out the fact Pat Finucane was a solicitor for IRA terrorists. If we are going to investigate collusion and the role of state agents, perhaps we should start with the Sandy Lynch case.

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We have had a minority of members of the US Congress writing letters, the Irish Government interfering and even senior NUJ member Seamus Dooley issuing a demand for a public inquiry. It is somewhat confusing as to why a journalists’ union would be actively campaigning on political issues, however increasingly the NUJ appear to be the vehicle for pursuing overt nationalist causes, especially in relation to legacy.

Let us move on however and dispel the public inquiry obligation mistruth from the outset. Lord Kerr at paragraph 153 of the Supreme Court judgment in the matter of an application by Geraldine Finuacne for judicial review [2019] UKSC 7:

“153. I would therefore make a declaration that there has not been an article 2 compliant inquiry into the death of Patrick Finucane. It does not follow that a public inquiry of the type which the appellant seeks must be ordered. It is for the state to decide, in light of the incapacity of Sir Desmond de Silva’s review and the inquiries which preceded it to meet the procedural requirement of article 2, what form of investigation, if indeed any is now feasible, is required in order to meet that requirement.” (emphasis added)

It is difficult to imagine a clearer statement of law. There is no obligation on the Government to order a public inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane. Despite this we have had a frenzy of deliberately misleading pronouncements from a range of nationalist activists- and surrogate organisations- demanding the Government “fulfil their obligation” to order a public inquiry. It is worth repeating again; no such obligation exists.

The killing of Pat Finucane, apparently carried out by the UFF, is arguably the most investigated killing of the entire troubles. There will be many unionist victims, and indeed the families of other legal professionals murdered by the IRA, who could only wish the murder of their loved one had been afforded a fraction of the attention and resources as has been lavished on successive investigations into the killing of Pat Finucane, who was- according to Sir John Hermon and former republicans such as Sean O’Callaghan, at the very least a enabler and associate, however most probably an active member, of the IRA.

You will note that Sinn Fein’s MP John Finucane has repeatedly (as recently as this week) refused to condemn the IRA murder of legal professionals and judges. As ever with the republican movement, they demand supremacy and place victims from the republican community at the very top of their own self-constructed hierarchy.

The Finucane killing was subject to an inquest and thereafter a series of independent investigations. More than any other killing in the entire troubles.

The killing featured in broad terms in the first Stevens inquiry. As a result of Stevens 1, 45 persons were convicted of serious offences. (It is notable there has never been any such focused investigation exploring the activities of the IRA).

In 1992 a second Stevens inquiry was launched. The trigger for this was a BBC documentary called ‘The Dirty War’. It has been suggested since that this program was fed much of its information by republican activists, and its claims as to the killing of Pat Finucane have never been proven.

If we pause at this juncture; from as far back as 1992 republican activists were seeking to infiltrate and use the media to advance their political agenda as to legacy. As is apparent with more recent productions such as ‘No Stone Unturned’ and ‘unquiet graves’, republican activists continue to pursue this strategy- albeit more overtly- in recent years.

The second Stevens’ reports were submitted to the DPP, and the decision was taken not to prosecute any persons on foot of the second Stevens inquiry. This would plainly suggest that the evidence threshold was not met; likely because there was no evidence to support the increasingly outlandish claims of nationalist legacy activists.

In 1999 there was yet another investigation, this time triggered by another heavily republican infiltrated Non-Governmental Organisation (‘NGO’), British-Irish Rights Watch. A submission by this group led to the Langdon investigation.

In 1999 we then had a third Stevens inquiry, this time focusing specifically on the killing of Pat Finucane and another individual. A month later the now deceased William Stobie was charged with the killing of Pat Finucane. In an effort (which turned out to be successful more due to the withdrawal of an apparent key witness) to derail the prosecution, William Stobie claimed he was Special Branch agent who had passed on information to the RUC about an intended attack on Pat Finucane.

Notwithstanding his role as an agent, senior loyalist sources are absolutely adamant Mr Stobie had no knowledge of the killing of Pat Finucane, and accordingly could not possibly have provided any credible prior or subsequent intelligence. Indeed in his 2003 overview Sir John Stevens could only go so far as to say Mr Stobie had provided information as to a potential murder. Given the sheer amount of loyalist killings in that period, that’s hardly a novel piece of information.

In any event, had William Stobie genuinely had any knowledge as to the killing of Pat Finucane, it stands to reason at the point whereby he was seeking to exert maximum leverage for his advantage, that he would have revealed the full extent of his purported knowledge at that point. The inescapable reality is that he did not, because he was a Walter Mitty who in the end knew nothing.

The Third Stevens inquiry overview report, at paragraph 2.12, also explored the purported role of Brian Nelson, an Army Agent. Beyond providing a publicly available photograph of Pat Finucane there was no evidence that Mr Nelson played any role in either the targeting or actual killing of Pat Finucane.

In 2004 we then had the publication of Judge Cory’s report in relation to the killing of Pat Finucane. This came about following the Weston Park talks, which simultaneously were the genesis of the amnesty for On The Run IRA terrorists.

We then had the conviction of Ken Barrett for the killing of Pat Finucane. Mr Barrett claims he was the gunman who shot Pat Finucane, and indeed pleaded guilty to the murder. It is unclear whether this is accurate, or rather was the product of Barrett seeking to enhance his own reputation as a killer.

In any event, it was after the killing of Pat Finucane that Ken Barrett became a police agent. At the time of the killing, he was not an agent of the state. It is as a side note rather astonishing that- like with that of John Weir- republicans elevate testimony favourable to their agenda from convicted killers who were also self-confessed agents or in the case of Weir RUC officers.

In short; the RUC was- in the telling of the republican tale- a corrupt organisation running loyalist death squads. No RUC officer is to be trusted. However, a convicted killer such as Weir or Barrett is all of a sudden a credible witness when it suits their legacy narrative. The stench of hypocrisy and illogicality is overwhelming.

We then came on to the substantive de Silva inquiry. Desmond de Silva, an eminent independent QC, ha access to all relevant files and documentation. Mr de Silva QC concluded that he was satisfied there was “no overarching state conspiracy to murder Pat Finucane”.

Featuring heavily, and ultimately for the most part deemed unreliable, was a series of tall-tales concocted by self-confessed murderer Ken Barrett. It is beyond the scope of this article to dismantle these one by one, but a previous article did so in more detail. You can read it HERE

Perhaps those treating the tales of Ken Barrett as gospel should start from the point of coming to a firm conclusion as to whether they believe that Ken Barrett was- as he claims- the gunman who shot Pat Finucane. If it were to transpire (and I have no idea) that Ken Barrett was not in fact the gunman, then surely it would be somewhat bizarre to continue to cling to the rest of his tales when the central plank of his story is actually wholly fabricated.

One point of note arising from the de Silva report is that various media outlets, and nationalist legacy activists, claimed that it had identified various persons- albeit via ciphers- as state agents. This is simply untrue; nowhere within the de Silva report is any of the ciphers identified as police informers. There is not a scintilla of evidence within the report which in any way identified any of the ciphers as informants. This has literally been invented by the media (who plainly haven’t actually read the de Silva report).

If there were loyalists working as informers, then by all means lets get that out in the open. I have zero interest in the suppression of such evidence and would be the first to platform any such evidence, if it actually existed. However, what is entirely different is the advancement of politically motivated allegations claiming persons are identified as informants within the de Silva report when this is plainly false. There is no such evidence uncovered within the report. Not a single sentence in de Silva identifies any of the ciphers as being informants.

As ever with nationalist legacy activism, and their collaborators in sections of the media, it isn’t about the truth, but rather about what story they can get away with telling to fit into their need to develop a narrative of the past that legitimises the IRA and dehumanises the state and loyalists.

It is notable that the Finucane family objected to a Public Inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005, because Section 19 of the Act could have been deployed to prevent certain material being published (not allowing it to be suppressed or withheld from the inquiry- merely to prevent its publication). This tells you a lot; it is less about truth and more about shaping a public narrative.

Efforts to obtain public inquiries and justice for murdered loyalists would not meet with the approval of the establishment. I seriously doubt the NUJ would campaign for a public inquiry into the murder of any UVF or UDA volunteer, yet we have them and every other strand of the professional class actively campaigning for yet another inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane, widely reported to have been a member of the IRA.

It is quite clear that the republican demand is for there to be a hierarchy of victims in Northern Ireland. That is evidenced and illuminated by the demands for excessive, repetitive and seemingly never-ending series of inquiries into the killing of Pat Finucane, whilst simultaneously there are no such inquiries into murders committed by the IRA. Indeed so extreme is the republican hypocrisy that they can not even condemn the murder of legal professionals and judges by the IRA. That tells you all you need to know.

Everyone is entitled to pursue truth and justice. However, the sense of enhanced entitlement and superiority on the part of the nationalist community has long since past the point of being tolerable.

The Government should refuse a public inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane. As Lord Kerr stated in the Supreme Court, there is no obligation to provide such an inquiry. However, as ever in the deliberately one sided world of the Northern Ireland ‘peace process’, there is forever a tendency to constantly appease the demands of nationalists. Therefore, it would not be surprising if the state yet again capitulated to this latest demand.

If they do so, then unionism must collectively unite to demand a series of full public inquiries into the actions of the IRA. Let us start with the present and have a public inquiry into whether a party of Government is controlled by a proscribed terrorist organisation.


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