Clara Reilly’s Speech
I knew Pat Finucane personally – I considered him a friend as well as a colleague. A trusted individual with principle, integrity and above all humanity.
Pat was from this community. He did well. He never forgot his community or his neighbours. He had a burning sense of deep concern for people and was passionate about his work supporting people and championing their plight.
He was a committed lawyer – an advocate always on the side of right – righting wrongs was his vocation.
I have fond memories of Pat, of constantly going to his home over human rights issues – Geraldine and his young family being there – myself, along with Fr. Murray and the late Fr. Faul interrupting – never once did Pat complain – the very opposite was the case.
We brought the shoot-to-kill families to Pat, the victims of rubber and plastic bullets, families who lost loved ones at the hands of the British army and RUC, and ironically those affected by collusion.
We had Pat, and his partner Peter Madden, represent all these issues including those abused during detentions in notorious interrogation centers – prisoners who were abused in the jails.
We brought people whose rights were so fundamentally violated to lawyers like Pat – and never, not once, were they refused assistance, compassion, empathy, understanding and above all professional representation, which went beyond that of a client lawyer relationship. It was much more when lawyers like Pat got involved. They cared.
He was a professional and effective advocate. That is why Pat Finucane was targeted and killed.
Many of those families who Pat represented are here today and their struggle for truth and justice goes on too.
This year rfj has completed four major reports into shoot-to-kill and collusion – the Loughinisland Massacre, the Ormeau Rd bookmakers atrocity, Ambush, Assassination & Impunity at Clonoe County Tyrone, and the murder of Gerard Lawlor. Scores of families have been supported through their cases with PONI, HET and inquests – these processes are fundamentally flawed – they are not independent. Like the Finucane family they seek a proper, effective, independent process to address their loss.
Many of these initiatives have been subverted by securocrats – not least within the PSNI where 1071 former RUC were rehired and now hold key strategic positions concerning intelligence and legacy.
Here they are blocking information, including vetting information on killings that essentially they were involved in. They are all fighting a rear guard action in a bid to shield their past activities. This is unacceptable.
The suspension of inquests recently was part of that process in a long line of moves aimed at suppressing the truth.
In particular the inquest into the murder of Gerard Slane, which is connected to Pat’s murder, was halted and why?
Because that case too had the potential to bring publicly centre-stage all of the issues connected to the Force Research Unit, the Stevens report, including the possibility of John Stevens being a witness and importantly Gordon Kerr as a compellable witness unable to hide behind a screen as he did some 20 years ago when he gave mitigating evidence on behalf of Brian Nelson in order to keep a lid on the truth.
They will not succeed. Truth will prevail. Families will continue to push for truth.
The reality is that all roads lead to Whitehall and Downing St.
So we all understand the deep sense of frustration that the Finucane family feels over De Silva and the refusal by the British to honour their commitments to hold an inquiry into Pat’s murder as agreed at Weston Park.
Many families see an inquiry into Pat’s murder as a process that will hopefully also address the wider policy that was collusion given the extent of involvement that leads directly to key military and political figures within the British establishment at the time.
It is imperative that a proper inquiry be held. We all have a stake in ensuring that there is a proper inquiry into Pat’s murder.
The issue of cost has been raised by David Cameron – so lets be clear – we can have inquiries into planning, flooding, health, education, and so on – its only when it concerns the actions of the British government in killing citizens in this jurisdiction that we cannot have inquiries – and that tells us everything.
As John Finucane said – if I had my phone hacked I could have had an inquiry but if my father is murdered, and it implicates the government, then I can’t.
So here today we send a clear and unambiguous message to the David Cameron – there will be no let up in campaigning until there is a proper inquiry into Pat Finucane and into the issues of state and state sponsored violence.