As feared the Inquiries Bill passed the final stages in Westminster earlier today despite the strong objections of NGOs, the legal community and most importantly, the Finucane family.
The new legislation is widely perceived as a legislative attempt to deny the Finucane family access to vital information surrounding the 1989 murder. In announcing the proposed Bill late last year Secretary of State Paul Murphy admitted that aspects of the murder involved British ‘national security interests’.
For this reason the government is unwilling to subject the events surrounding the murder to public scrutiny.
In light of this latest development it is highly unlikely that the Finucane family will co-operate with the proposed inquiry.
Earlier this afternoon we emailed the following response to Catherine Ashton, the parliamentary under secretary at the Department for Constitutional Affairs who had sought to defend the Bill;
“…we wish to take this opportunity to respond in light of our understanding that the Inquiries Bill has indeed passed the required legislative stages earlier today. Are you aware that those who actually witnessed the murder, the Finucane family, are now highly unlikely to take part in this inquiry?
Your government appears determined to cover up the murder of Pat Finucane in 1989. This is perhaps understandable given the involvement of the Force Research Unit of the British Army, the Security Service (MI5) and RUC Special Branch in the murder and subsequent cover-up.
You state in your letter that the Bill ‘will help build public confidence in inquiries.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality this Bill will convince many people in Ireland, Britain and throughout the world that this government will go to any lengths to hide the truth about the operation of what was essentially a state sponsored death squad. None of this occurred on your watch. But the cover-up continues on your watch. PM Tony Blair MP made a clear and unambiguous commitment at the Weston Park talks. He lied.
When the time comes to write the history of this shameful episode your name will join the list of those who believed that defence of the realm was more important than publicly and independently inquiring into state run death squads.
General Pinochet would have been proud of this government.”