Speaking at an engagement in Belfast at the University of Ulster, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny has repeated his support for a full public enquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane. The well-known solicitor was shot dead by the UFF in front of his family at his home in North Belfast on February 12th 1989. It was one of the murders I reported on during the troubles and this was among the most high-profile cases. Standing beside the police cordon a well-known BBC reporter came over to me and my cameraman and said “you know who it is?”. He then told me it was Pat Finucane. I had interviewed the lawyer a few times, including at a controversial inquest at Craigavon courthouse. According to the BBC’s Political Correspondent Martina Purdy, Mr Kenny said relations between the British and Irish governments had never been closer, but there were areas where there was a difference of opinion. Paying tribute to Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine for the way she has campaigned with “great dignity and courage”, Mr Kenny said he supported her in the campaign for a full public inquiry into the killing.
An emotional Geraldine Finucane told a well-attended fringe meeting of trade unionists in Derry on Tuesday night that dealing with her husband’s case was an absolute necessity if progress is to continue in Northern Ireland. Mrs Finucane said she had no confidence in a Cory2 process suggested by the British government into her husband’s murder. She told the meeting the way the Prime Minister David Cameron dealt with the issue showed that the promises of the British government can easily be broken. Clearly still affected by the circumstances of last October’s meeting in London, Geraldine Finucane said she and her family had been lured to Downing Street under false pretences by a disreputable government led by a disreputable man. She said the let-down by David Cameron over the prospect of a full enquiry was one of most cruel & devastating experiences she had had since her campaign began. As RTÉ News reported at the time, Mr Cameron proposed that instead of the full inquiry into allegations of security force collusion suggested by Judge Cory, that a QC should undertake a review of the case. Mrs Finucane had been told in late summer that the Prime Minister wanted to meet her and she said she had been encouraged at the time by the offer of engagement with her family, following the lengthy delay in following up a commitment made originally to the family in the Weston Park talks in 2001.
Alan McBride from the WAVE trauma centre in Belfast who lost his wife and father-in-law in the IRA Shankill bombing also spoke about his own experience. He said the past was not going to go away and he supported the Finucane family’s right to have a full public enquiry. Alan also described how on a visit to the United States alongside some republicans, a former IRA man had told him he was sorry for the Shankill bomb and what happened was wrong. He had helped to humanise his loss, he said, and had acknowledged my pain. Former ICTU President Inez McCormack also addressed the meeting. As NI Secretary of UNISON she had helped to set up the handshake in West Belfast between the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and President Mary Robinson in June 1993 at Rupert Stanley College. I remember that occasion as one when the media were kept firmly outside the door in order to ensure that no pictures of the handshake were taken. Yet it was a defining moment in the lead-up to the IRA ceasefire the following year. Here is one account of the occasion from the Independent.UPDATE: The News Letter reports that the Taoiseach’s comments were strongly criticised by the UUP chair Lord Empey and MLA Danny Kennedy.