Pat Finucane: UK government pressed over murder probe

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Pacemaker

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Pat Finucane, a 39-year-old Belfast solicitor, was shot dead in front of his wife and children

The UK government has been asked how it intends to comply with a Supreme Court ruling for a probe into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has demanded “concrete information” by 22 October.

Mr Finucane was shot by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his young family at their home in February 1989.

In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled there had not been a human rights-compliant inquiry into his death.

A UK government spokesperson says it is committed to “taking forward these important issues as soon as possible”.

The Committee of Ministers is a decision-making body made up of the ministers for foreign affairs of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

‘Run out of patience’

The committee issued an eight-point document, which included a call that it was “urgent that the authorities take such a decision without further delay” over the Finucane probe.

A general measure further expressed concern at the “lack of detail” in the government’s approach to mechanisms to deal with the past.

Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine welcomed the statement, saying it was “disappointing the UK government must be compelled in this way”.

“It would appear that the Committee of Ministers has now run out of patience and, like me, is demanding clear answers,” she added.

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Pacemaker

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Geraldine Finucane has been involved in a long-running legal battle over her husband’s murder

Dublin’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has welcomed the decision in relation to both the Pat Finucane murder and the wider issue of legacy cases.

The Irish government said it was a “matter of significant and increasing concern” that the legislation to implement the Stormont House Agreement framework to deal with Troubles-related cases has not been progressed.

“Victims and survivors have had to wait for far too long for a suitable and effective system in Northern Ireland to deal with the legacy of the Troubles,” the government said.

Mr Finucane was a high-profile solicitor and convicted members of the IRA were among his clients.

In February 2019, the Supreme Court judges said none of the inquiries into Mr Finucane’s death, including the review carried out by Sir Desmond de Silva, had the capability “of establishing all the salient facts” about his killing or the liability of those who were responsible for his death.

In his 2012 review, Sir Desmond de Silva QC said the state had facilitated Mr Finucane’s killing and made relentless efforts to stop the killers being caught.

However, his report concluded there had been “no overarching state conspiracy”.

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