In an interview last Wednesday in the Catholic Universe, Peter Hain said “ …My door is open to the Finucane family if they want to come and talk. I am happy to talk but there will be an inquiry under the Inquiries Act or none at all”….. He also said, “ …the protections provided for the security services and police by the Inquiries Act will enable an inquiry to really get at the truth of what happened and why…”
We had requested a meeting with Mr. Hain before Christmas to discuss the proposed Inquiry into Pat’s murder. This recent statement by Mr. Hain, re-states the previous British Government’s position.
The problem about it is that the family cannot not take part in any Inquiry set up under the Inquiries Act. We have also been re-stating our own position recently with a series of meetings with the Irish political leaders north and south.
At those meetings we set out the reasons why we will not co-operate with an Inquiries Act inquiry. To summarise those reasons:
- The Inquiries Act changed the law on inquiries which had been in existence for the last 80 years and the “protections” referred to by Mr. Hain were well looked after by the Inquiry judges
- The Inquiries Act removes the decision-making responsibility from the judges to the British Government minister – which means that the minister can prevent the judges from making information available to the public – in our view this is the purpose of the new legislation and that it was introduced solely for the inquiry into Pat’s murder
- As a result of the new Inquiries Act, the independence of any panel of judges has disappeared, which is why Judge Peter Cory stated that he could not preside over any inquiry under the Inquiries Act and that he would advise his fellow Canadian judges not to preside. Lord Saville agreed as did his fellow Australian and Canadian judges who presided over the Bloody Sunday Inquiry which was held under the old inquiry legislation
How can the British Government claim that they have fulfilled the requirements of Weston Park, when the very judge that they appointed, and the very judge whose recommendations they said they would implement, states that the Inquiries Act does not provide the necessary independence and does not comply with his recommendations?
The truth of what happened and why is located in the secret corridors of Whitehall. The family cannot get involved in any inquiry in which the ministers in charge of those very same corridors will be in charge of Pat’s inquiry.
The family have received widespread international support for their current stance. They will continue and step up their campaign for an independent public judicial inquiry.
In view of what Peter Hain has said, the family are now considering whether it is worthwhile meeting him.