Pat Finucane by Fra Hughes

Pat Finucane was gunned down as he sat down to dinner with his family one Sunday evening in Belfast on February 12, 1989, just two days before celebrating Valentine’s with his beloved wife Geraldine.

Two gunmen broke down his front door before entering the dining area and brutally murdering Pat.

Mr Finucane was a well-known, high-profile civil rights and human rights lawyer, who defended many leading republicans being brought before the courts, charged with varying offences connected to the ongoing national war of liberation being waged by the Irish against the continued occupation of Ireland by Britain.

Many of his clients prior to his murder have claimed they were told by police detectives and Special Branch officers, during their interrogations, that their solicitor Pat Finucane, would not be around much longer.

These threats to civil rights defenders are more associated with American-sponsored dictatorships than with the home of democracy in civilised west Britain.

His clients may well have viewed these threats as part of the struggle between a partisan police force and anyone defending their perceived enemies, a job which Pat was legally obliged to do.

That is, until a former minister and member of the British Government Douglas Hogg, stood up in the House of Commons and using Parliamentary privilege alleged that some solicitors were ‘unduly sympathetic ‘to the IRA. This was four weeks before Pat’s assassination.

The stage was set.

Pat, who defended both loyalist and republicans accused of very serious offences, was shot 14 times in front of his wife and three children.

From the very hour of his death assertions have been made that loyalists in collusion with members of the police and military had murdered Pat at the behest of the British Government.

Pat was the first lawyer to be murdered during the Troubles. Another high profile victim was also murdered by loyalist paramilitaries with state collusion: Rosemary Nelson in Lurgan Co.Armagh, who at that time was defending republicans being brought before the court.

Pat was murdered by the Ulster Freedom Fighters/Ulster Defence Association and Rosemary was murdered by the Red Hand Defenders. 

There have been many heinous crimes here, where state collusion has been alleged and in some cases confirmed by the government.

From the Miami Showband massacre, Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday atrocities, no one has ever been convicted let alone served a prison sentence in connection with these crimes.

The families of all the above, victims of state collusion have fought for what will soon be, for many, 50 years campaigning, to have the truth disclosed and the guilty prosecuted.

Many have gone to their graves demanding justice for the dead.

Their cries have gone unheard and unanswered as successive governments, Conservative and Labour, have continued to cover up the truth in order to protect the guilty.

The initial Inquiry into Bloody Sunday in Derry on January 30, 1972, the Widgery Report, presented to the British government, concluded that all those killed on that fateful day were armed terrorists shot within the operating guidelines issued to British troops on the ground.

Eventually, after a long campaign and another inquiry, the British Government accepted publicly. that all those murdered on Bloody Sunday were innocent, unarmed civilians, gunned down by members of the British Royal Parachute Regiment whose commander in Chief is Prince Charles, heir to the British throne.

Pat Finucane’s story and the injustice visited on his family is not new in the history of Britain’s continued occupation of Ireland.

While members of the Unionist political parties still insinuate that Pat Finucane was a member of the Irish Republican Army, including members of the British House of Lords, the upper chamber, the very police force that stands accused of complicity in his murder have publicly stated Pat was not a member of the IRA.

While his wife Geraldine and his family continue to fight to gain truth and justice around the circumstances of his death, his son John has followed in his father footsteps and become a civil rights lawyer.

Further to that, John has been elected to the British House of Commons, as the Member for Belfast North, representing the area where his father was killed.

John Finucane is now a member of the very Parliament from which many believe the order to murder his father Pat was directed and permission was given.

They told us the Birmingham six were guilty.

They told us the Guildford Four were guilty;

The told us the Maguire seven were guilty.

All innocent Irish men and women jailed in Britain, wrongly convicted of being responsible for planting bombs and killing British troops and civilians.

None of them was guilty,

The police who charged them, the barrister who prosecuted them and the judiciary who convicted them, all knew they were innocent.

Yet they tell us Thatcher was not involved in the murder of Pat Finucane.

The guilty were Ulster Defence Association gunmen perhaps aided by rogue elements of the police.

The UDA themselves have admitted they targeted Pat Finucane and were encouraged to do so by the police.

I do not believe the UDA would have carried out such a high profile murder of a civil rights lawyer without official sanction and assurance that there would be no repercussions.

How high does this rotten cover-up and collusion go? 

Geraldine Finucane told a Belfast Telegraph reporter in October 2018 that Peter Corry a Canadian Judge told her that collusion between Loyalists, the security force and the State went all the way to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The man who pleaded guilty to Pat’s murder, Ken Barrett in, 2004, was a police informant at the time. He later went into the police witness programme and was spirited out of Northern Ireland.

It is inconceivable he did not inform his handlers of the murder in advance  – or perhaps they already knew?

Having promised a full public inquiry on many occasions, over many years, successive British governments, have refused the call to allow an independent public inquiry into who murdered Pat Finucane.

Who gave the orders?

Who knew about it and who covered it up?

The one man who could have told us more was shot dead on 12 December 2001: William Stobie.

He had confessed to supplying the weapon that was used to murder Pat but his trial was abandoned when a witness refused to take the stand.

During the Steven police inquiry (a police investigation, not a public inquiry) into the death of Pat Finucane, John Stevens concluded ‘I have uncovered enough evidence to lead me to believe that the murders of Patrick Finucane and Brian Adam Lambert could have been prevented’

Stobie a police informer had informed his handlers that he had given a gun to UDA members about to commit a murder.

Stobie had said publicly, he would engage with any public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and he supported the calls by the family for justice. He stated he would name his police handlers whom he informed of the coming murder but not those directly involved in the killing, his associate in the UDA.

Is this why he was murdered?

Ken Barret, a member of the Ulster Defence Association, boasted on record that he had killed ten people and he had shot Pat Finucane as he lay on the floor.

This taped confession mysteriously disappeared.

During Stevens’s inquiry which required police from outside the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland to investigate the murder a series of unfortunate events occurred.

As reported in the Irish Times: on the 8th of January 1990 having left their offices situated in a secured police station near Carrickfergus just outside Belfast, a series of mishaps took place.

The facility known as Seapark was guarded by armed police, CCTV, chain link fences. It is reputed to be one of the most secure buildings in the world housing no end of confidential evidence.

Twenty minutes after one of Steven’s team had left the building another arrived unexpectedly.

They discovered their office was on fire.

They rushed to raise the alarm.

They smashed several, fire alarm call points but the fire alarm did not sound.

A heat-sensitive intruder alarm had also failed.

On demanding the fire brigade must be alerted, they were told the phones were down. Upon requesting a police officer use his radio to summon help he replied’ Well what do you expect me to do about it?’

By the time the fire was extinguished the investigator’s laptops had been melted and much evidence lost.

The suspected arsonists according to the Irish Times article were not loyalist paramilitaries but British soldiers from the shadowy army intelligence corps known as the Force Research Unit.

Informers, collusion, thwarted investigations, arson, the murder of witnesses and smear campaigns seem to haunt this case.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

Geraldine Finucane has claimed the establishment are hoping that when she dies the campaign for justice for Pat Finucane will die with her.

I agree that is their hope but they are also covering up for the guilty from within the police service, the intelligence service and British parliamentarians living and dead,

The truth may never be told as Thatcher’s legacy and that of the reputation of the British government internationally would be dragged through the gutter.

Personally, I have always felt that is where their reputation remains.

I was on the Antrim Road near Fortwilliam the day Pat Finucane died.

I saw a huge military presence around the surrounding streets leading to what I later discovered to be Pat Finucane’s home.

My thoughts on that day were, if there were any republicans in the area they should get offside sharpish as this was a huge operation which I wrongly assumed was set to capture republicans.

It turns out this heavy presence by the security forces was actually to sanitise the murder corridor to facilitate the entry and exit of the murder gang.

Today I wonder in amazement how the British Government can continue to callously refuse justice to the memory of Pat Finucane and deny the truth to his grieving widow and family.

Irish men and women have never and will never have justice from the British institutions which rule over them.

They will continue to face censorship, imprisonment, torture and death when it suits the power that be.

Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, Gerry Conlon, The Miami Show Band, Bloody Sunday, Ballymurphy, Dublin and Monaghan bomb victims, McGurk’s Bar: there are so many victims of British state injustice I can only name a few.

We will not forget.

John Finucane, look them the eye and make them remember who you are.




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