Northern Ireland

Pat Finucane review: Woodward calls Cameron meeting 'crass and cruel'

Pat Finucane
Image caption Pat Finucane was shot dead by loyalists in front of his family in 1989

Former NI Secretary Shaun Woodward has said it was "crass and cruel" to bring Pat Finucane's family to Downing Street to say there would be no independent public inquiry into his murder.

Mr Finucane, a north Belfast solicitor, was shot at his home in 1989 by loyalist paramilitaries.

A lawyer, QC Desmond DeSilva, will now lead a review of the papers relating to the murder.

Mr Woodward has criticised the handling of Tuesday's meeting.

"Huge questions have to be asked about the handling by the secretary of state here, because it was crass at best to have brought the family to Downing Street and at worst it was cruel," he added.

"Understandably, from what we have learned about what happened yesterday, I am not surprised they (the Finucanes) walked out of Downing Street.

"It is extremely regrettable, it is drama that simply isn't necessary on something that is already unbearable.

"I don't know what the secretary of state has been doing over the last 18 months to have created the drama of yesterday."

A son of Mr Finucane said that his family did not understand what led the government to "change its mind" over an inquiry into the killing.

John Finucane said they had met officials to discuss a particular type of inquiry - but that was ruled out at the Downing Street meeting.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced that rather than an independent public inquiry, a review of the papers relating to the murder will be carried out, led by a leading lawyer

Speaking on Good Morning Ulster, John Finucane said the family had been genuinely shocked by what they saw as a change of mind by the government.

"Yesterday was a very disappointing day," he said.


"I think the more the dust settles, I think people's reaction to it will show the British government that this is not something that will wash with my family or anyone else."

Mr Finucane said that his family had met privately and publicly with officials to discuss a possible inquiry.

"Models were discussed - a particular mechanism, a particular example of an inquiry that we felt had been agreeable to us had been put on the table and discussed at some length," he said.

"So when the Prime Minister announced the review we were genuinely shocked."

Mr Finucane reiterated the family's position that they would continue their campaign for an independent public inquiry and would not participate in the review.

The Irish prime minister Enda Kenny has told Mr Cameron that any proposed inquiry into the killing would not satisfy the Irish government, if it did not have the Finucane family's support.

In a telephone conversation with Mr Cameron he said that the Dail had backed calls for a full inquiry.

Mr Kenny said the deputy prime minister of Ireland, Eamon Gilmore, would be contacting Pat Finucane's widow, Geraldine, to invite her to Dublin to discuss the outcome of the Downing Street meeting.

The DUP MP for North Belfast, Nigel Dodds, supported the decision by the government not to hold an inquiry into the murder.

"Everyone understands the desire of relatives to get the full facts about the death of their loved one," he added.

"However, history in Northern Ireland has shown that the kind of expensive open-ended inquiry demanded in some cases has not been able to bring closure for anyone involved and has actually increased community tensions."

When he was prime minister, Tony Blair agreed to set up an inquiry, but a fresh investigation was never established.

Before the meeting on Tuesday, the government said they hoped the Finucane family would be satisfied with their response.


A statement on behalf of Mr Cameron said: "The prime minister expressed his profound sympathy for the family and said it was clear from (the) Stevens and Corey (inquiries) that state collusion had taken place in Mr Finucane's murder and he accepted these conclusions.

"On behalf of the government he apologised to the family.

"He confirmed that the government's priority was to get to the truth in the best and most effective way and the secretary of state will set out the details for this process shortly."

In 2004, the then Northern Ireland Secretary of State Paul Murphy announced his intention to hold an inquiry under the new Inquiries Act.

The Finucane family are opposed to the probe being held under this legislation, which they say makes the inquiry accountable to the minister responsible, rather than to parliament.

The secretary of state Owen Paterson is to make a statement in the House of Commons later on the Pat Finucane case.

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