It was bad enough that innocent Derry citizens were murdered on the streets of the United Kingdom in 1972 by agents of the British state, but at least they finally achieved justice in the Inquiry chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate that reported last year.
The same cannot be said for the family and friends of Pat Finucane, a hardworking, dedicated and blameless lawyer, who was cold-bloodedly assassinated in 1989 in his own home in front of his wife and children.
He was despised and demonised by the authorities for his principled defence work. His murder was also the responsibility of agents of the British state.
Overwhelming evidence to this effect was uncovered by Judge Cory who had been commissioned by the House of Commons and separately by Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
Now, for the first time, it has been put beyond any doubt by an unequivocal admission by the British Prime Minister.
This occurred in David Cameron’s recent historic meeting with Pat’s widow, Geraldine. The magnitude of this concession has not attracted the attention it deserves.
The ramifications are enormous for the bigger questions that remain unanswered.
Who knew what was afoot? Who authorised it? Who turned a blind eye? Who provided tacit consent? How high does the chain of responsibility extend? What was the role of the security services?
The three criminal cases that have been through the courts relating to this murder have barely scratched the surface. Someone is anxious that the whole truth does not see the light of day.
These are not idle questions of historic interest.
They go to the heart of how our system of parliamentary democracy has been malfunctioning right through to the present day.
We have witnessed cash for questions; cash for access; the widespread parliamentary expenses scandal; phone hacking with the incremental unravelling of collusion between three key spheres – media/politics/police; the Liam Fox saga; and even the disposal of confidential waste in a park bin by Oliver Letwin.
What underpins these episodes is an arrogant and supercilious attitude towards the public that has for too long been taken for granted by authorities who have believed themselves to be above the law.
Until such matters are carefully unpicked and accountability restored to its rightful place at the core of our democracy, meaningful progress will be limited. It is precisely this principle that applies to the Finucane murder.
The only way this can be achieved is by a thorough, transparent, independent, rigorous, public judicial Inquiry.
There have been many different forms and effective examples of these – Stephen Lawrence, Marchioness and Baha Mousa. But these are not what are on offer.
Instead, with or without the family’s consent or participation, another review has been instigated to be under taken by a barrister sitting in London perusing the paperwork.
This will be a complete waste of time and public money, nothing but a cheap ploy. It will achieve no more than Judge Cory or Lord Stevens, if that.
No wonder the family has rightly characterised the whole exercise as an insult. Year on year they have waited, exhibiting exemplary patience, restraint and dignity. Meanwhile, three other Inquiries have been completed in Northern Ireland relating to the murders of Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill and Billy Wright.
The real travesty is that the promise of a proper public inquiry has been on the table ever since the Peace Process and the Good Friday Agreement was concluded in 1998.
It was made very clear that if evidence of collusion were to be discovered in certain specified cases then an Inquiry would be established. Finucane was one of them and by 2004 such evidence had been revealed both by Judge Cory and Lord Stevens.
In addition Judge Cory carefully set out in his report the necessary conditions for an Inquiry. The Labour Government dismally failed to fulfil these, despite a judgment by the European Court of Human rights in 2003 that there had been a failure by the British Government to provide a prompt and effective investigation into allegations of collusion.
Interminable delay and obfuscation have been the hallmarks of successive Government responses, including the current Coalition which has embarked on a so- called consultation with disparate ephemeral bodies for over a year. At no stage since 2004 did anyone suggest another review – except for recent inept comments by Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who thought Geraldine Finucane would not be concerned about how the truth was uncovered. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
With respect to Pat Finucane there is a flagrant breach of fundamental human rights and a betrayal of trust on a monumental scale.