Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: Geraldine Finucane
Widow of Patrick Finucane -

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Testimony of Geraldine Finucane to

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

14th March 2000


"Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Members of Congress, Fellow Speakers, Ladies and Gentleman:


I would like to begin this submission by sincerely thanking Chairman Smith for his work in
organising this public hearing. I cannot emphasise the difference it makes, both to my family, and
the people in general who see the crucial importance of this issue. I would also like to thank the
members of Congress that have attended today and in the past, the NGOs that have worked so
tirelessly to keep this issue alive, and all who have persevered in the quest for justice for my family.


In 1997, the House Sub-Committee on International Operations and Human Rights convened its first
hearing on the intimidation and murder of defence lawyers in Northern Ireland. My eldest son
Michael gave testimony at that hearing, and he publicly accused the British Government of ordering
and arranging the murder of his father.


In 1998, Pat's law partner Peter Madden - a true friend to both myself and my family - spoke of the
devastating effect that the murder of his friend and partner had on himself, and on the legal
profession in Northern Ireland as a whole.


At that same hearing, Rosemary Nelson testified about threats that she had received time and
again as she carried out her work as a defence lawyer. One year ago, Rosemary was murdered.
Those who said it could not happen again were wrong. Those of us who had insisted that it could,
were devastated.


It is clear that the British Government are responsible for the deaths of my husband and Rosemary
Nelson. This is not just because they failed to protect them.
Pat and Rosemary were the victims of British Government policy - that of selective targeting and
directed assassination. My journey to this conclusion has taken eleven years, and having arrived at
this point I am not only convinced by what I have learned, but I am also horrified by it because the
truth as I now know it to be is overwhelming.


When my husband was killed 11 years ago, I started asking questions about his murder. For the first
years, I believed his case to be the work of a self-contained Loyalist unit. After the arrest of the
British Army Intelligence Agent, Brian Nelson, it became clear that this unit was a mere cog in a
larger machine, and that Pat was not a random target.


At Brian Nelson's trial, the magnitude of the policy he was a part of began to unfold.
His superior, a man identified only as "Colonel J", said that Nelson's role was to save lives. It is not
clear how many lives he did save, but it is very clear as to how many people he was involved in
killing, and the total figure has simply gone up over the years.


The truth is far from the British assertion that they were the defenders of law and order. They are
directly responsible for the death of my husband and others. It is for this reason that my family has
insisted upon an inquiry because, for us, the key question is not who were the people pulling the
triggers, but who were the people pulling the strings.


Last year, on the 12th February 1999, I submitted a confidential report prepared by British Irish
Rights Watch to both the British and Irish Governments. It evoked an immediate and in-depth
response by the Irish Government, who described the case for an independent inquiry as
"compelling." We have still received no reply from the British Government. Their silence speaks
volumes.


Since the handing in of the Report to the two Governments on the 10th anniversary of Pat's murder,
and since Rosemary's murder a short time later, more facts have come to light.


A few weeks after the report was given to the British Government - indeed on
St. Patrick's Day last year while the former Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam was here in Washington
- the Chief Constable of the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan, deliberately took it upon himself to bring back
the English policeman, John Stevens, to carry out further investigation. Mr. Stevens has already
carried out two investigations in Northern Ireland, and his return for a third time did not inspire any
confidence in my family. Indeed, his single-minded pursuit of insignificant trigger men has
completely borne out our earliest fears.


There are many reasons why this criminal investigation cannot be the definitive search into the
circumstances surrounding my husband's death, and the British Government who ordered it.


One reason is that the man who recalled Stevens, Ronnie Flanagan, may well be Chief Constable of
the RUC now, but what was he doing in 1989? He was a senior officer in RUC Special Branch - the
department that created the informer, William Stobie, the man now charged with the murder of my
husband. Ronnie Flanagan had this job at the time my husband was murdered. This is an area of
his career that he has taken some care to hide, and it is not difficult to see why.


Ronnie Flanagan's involvment at that time was central. He has continued to be involved for the last
eleven years and furthermore, he has connived in deliberately hiding William Stobie's confession to
my husband's murder for all these years.


What is worse is that the DPP and the British Government are now allowing Flanagan to essentially
investigate himself. This cannot be allowed to continue, because not only is the RUC as a whole
culpable in Pat's murder, but Flanagan himself is a prime suspect. He and his officers merit serious
independent investigation, not another cosy cover up.


That cover-up does not stop here.

My youngest son, John, had a chance meeting with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a school
function in Belfast in late 1997. He asked the Prime Minister about the impending UN Special
Rapporteur's report into his father's killing, and what the Government's position might be. Mr. Blair
was unable to proffer a response at that time, so John furthered his inquiry with a letter. In reply, on
29th January 1998, the Prime Minister stated:

"I have looked into the issues you raised concerning your father's murder.
I am sorry that it has not yet proved possible to charge anyone for this dreadful crime,
despite the intensive police investigation. The circumstances surrounding your father's
murder were fully investigated again by Mr. John Stevens following allegations of Brian
Nelson's involvement. As I am sure you know,
in February 1995, having considered the independent report before him, the Director of
Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland concluded that there was insufficient evidence to
warrant the prosecution of anyone for murder....While I fully understand why you propose
an independent inquiry, I am not convinced that this would bring to light anything new."


This statement by the Prime Minister is not only factually wrong, but it is disturbing for a number of
reasons.


In 1993, John Stevens wrote to British Irish Rights Watch and stated that he had fully investigated
the murder of my husband, and had indeed presented his report to the DPP. The DPP followed this
line in 1995 - as Tony Blair wrote in his letter - and directed that there be no prosecutions.


Four years later, in March 1999, Mr. Stevens returned to Northern Ireland and the first thing he said
at his opening press conference was that he had never before investigated the murder of Patrick
Finucane, nor had anyone ever asked him to do so.


It was always impossible for me to have a view on the outcome of these "official" investigations, as
neither of the final reports by John Stevens have ever been made public. Now, in light of his
statement last March, how can I now have any confidence in the man or an investigation by him?
Why should I think anything will come of his third effort when I am refused access to the first two?

If the same pattern is followed, no-one will ever see this third report and I will certainly not accept
being told that there has been an investigation and therefore I don't need a public inquiry.


Last year, John Stevens arrested the former RUC Special Branch informer, William Stobie and
charged him with Pat's murder on 23rd June. The basis for the charge was Stobie's confession,
while in RUC custody in 1990, about his role in the murder. Yet in 1995, five years after that
confession, the DPP stated that he had examined the evidence and decided not to prosecute
because there was not enough to ground a murder charge.


John Stevens and the Director of Public Prosecutions clearly have questions to answer. But now,
and perhaps most of all, the Prime Minister also has questions to answer.

What he said in his letter to my son is wrong, and I want to know the reason why.
Is it because he did not look into the issues surrounding my husband's murder, as he said he had
done, and therefore has got it hopelessly wrong? Is it because he sought assistance from his
officials in forming a response, people who proceeded to mislead him as to the evidence held on
Government and RUC files? Or is his actual position more sinister still?


When Mr. Blair came to power in 1997, he offered great hope in the form of a new administration
with a fresh approach. His inaction on the murder of my husband was described three weeks ago
by the Irish Government as "intolerable." But is it now the case that what was once the "policy" of
Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative Party Government, has now been made Tony Blair's own?
Can we now add his name to the list of suspects in this case?


If this Committee wishes to take a positive step in advancing the case for an inquiry, then it might
ask Tony Blair directly what his position is, because the one he has given my family simply does not
stand up. It does not, because the actual evidence in this case strongly suggests that there was
Government involvement in Pat's murder, that Army Intelligence did send a Loyalist death squad to
kill him, and that ever since, the DPP and the RUC have done everything in their power to cover it all
up.


I have observed first hand the whole period of the conflict in the North of Ireland, from having lived
through it and having had its worst horrors visited upon me and my family. Like everyone else, I
yearn for a peaceful society in which to live. But peace cannot be disconnected from justice, and it
cannot be divorced from the truth.


The British Government and other narrow minded politicians would have us believe that we must
achieve peace before we can think about truth and justice. But it is the very absence of these things
in Northern Ireland over the last thirty years that has made peace impossible. I know and am certain
of one thing - we will never have peace in Northern Ireland until we are at peace with ourselves.


The British Government does not understand that the truth behind my husband's case is so
important that it has now assumed a place in its own right as a piece in the jigsaw puzzle of peace. I
alone did not do this. The concerns of the people of Northern Ireland, the now public position of the
Irish Government , the work of influential human rights NGOs and world-wide disquiet at what my
husband's case stands for has placed it firmly on the wider political map.


The truth must be exposed publicly, so that the healing process can begin, and peace can start to
grow. No matter how horrifying or painful it proves to be, I, my family, and society in Northern Ireland
as a whole can learn to live with the truth. We cannot, and will not, ever learn to live with lies.


Once again, on behalf of myself and my family, thank you very much.