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Britain says no to immediate inquiry into Finucane killing

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Sinn Féin MP John Finucane

Sinn Féin MP John Finucane

PA

Sinn Féin MP John Finucane

The British government has decided not to order an immediate public inquiry into Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane's murder during the Troubles.

Outstanding issues before the Police Ombudsman's off-ice concerning original police investigations should be addressed first, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) said.

There could also be a review of the case by officers at the start of next year, most likely to be carried out by a force from outside the North.

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

"We are very angry. What the British government proposed to us today was nothing short of insulting," his son John said.

PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne said there were no new lines of inquiry.

Northern Secretary Brandon Lewis said: "It is in the public interest to allow the police and ombudsman processes to proceed before taking any decision on whether the state's Article 2 (duty to investigate deaths) obligations have been discharged or whether further steps are required."

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.

Wrong

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

John Finucane, Sinn Féin's North Belfast MP, said the family had waited 31 years for an effective investigation into the murder of his father.

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Pat Finucane

Pat Finucane

PA

Pat Finucane

"The British government at every opportunity will continue to make the wrong decision and put all their efforts into ensuring the truth of what happened to my father will not see the light of day," he said.

Mr Lewis told MPs he would "consider all options available to me" to meet the government's obligations to ensure an effective investigation into the death.

"This government has demonstrated that when the public interest requires it, we will establish inquiries to look at any potential failings by state bodies," he said.

He added that the British government remains committed to dealing with the "legacy of the past in its entirety".

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.

The judges found the British government was justified in later deciding against holding one.

Amid a Government delay in responding to the judgment, Mrs Finucane took fresh judicial review proceedings.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said he was disappointed, but noted a public inquiry had not been ruled out in future.

Stormont Sinn Féin leader Michelle O'Neill said: "The British government and the political establishment in Downing Street have again closed ranks to prevent a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane."


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