Statement by Mr Brian Cowen T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the Publication of the Report of the Stevens Inquiry
In response to the release today of a report by Sir John Stevens arising from his third investigation into the murder of Patrick Finucane, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, T.D., said:
The findings revealed today by the Stevens Inquiry are of the utmost gravity. They raise fundamental questions about the involvement of agents of the state in a range of unlawful and criminal activity, including collusion, obstructing justice and murder. It is particularly disturbing that Sir John Stevens has also concluded that nationalists were known to be targeted but were not properly warned or protected. And it is clear that efforts to uncover the truth were subject to obstruction, concealment and sabotage. Taken as a whole, the report as published confirms many of the worst fears generated by the Finucane case.
The recommendations made in today's report affirm and add to the recommendations already made by Dan Crompton of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in his report in November 2002 regarding the handling of intelligence material and the supervision of intelligence activities.
I am confident that Chief Constable Hugh Orde, given his own involvement in the Stevens investigation, and the Northern Ireland Policing Board will ensure that those recommendations are taken forward and fully implemented. We await the outcome of the consideration by the Chief Constable and the Policing Board of the material that has not been made public today.
From Sir John Stevens' report today it is clear that the murder of Pat Finucane cannot be considered in isolation. By its nature, a police investigation cannot answer the questions that surround the murder of Pat Finucane. It remains the firm view of the Government that a public inquiry is required to resolve these issues. That conviction has been reinforced by the report published today.
The Minister added:
The Government has long been concerned about the death of Pat Finucane. Since his murder in front of his wife and children by armed intruders in February 1989, allegations of collusion have persisted. That such allegations were associated with the murder of a human rights lawyer dedicated to his profession and to the rule of law added to the deep anxiety about this case both in Ireland and internationally.
Rather than dissipating those allegations, successive investigations by non-governmental organisations, human rights groups and journalists have added to the concerns surrounding Pat Finucane's murder.
On 19 February 1999, the tenth anniversary of his death, the Government was given a copy of a confidential report by British Irish Rights Watch entitled Deadly Intelligence; State Collusion with Loyalist Violence in Northern Ireland. That report offered a detailed analysis of the events surrounding the murder. It was given serious consideration by the Government. Following a meeting with the Finucane family on 24 February 2000, the Taoiseach said that a public inquiry needed to be established to examine all the circumstances surrounding this murder.
Arising from the talks at Weston Park in August 2001, the Irish and British Governments agreed to appoint a judge of international standing to investigate six cases, including that of Pat Finucane. They also agreed to implement any recommendations arising from this investigation, including a recommendation to establish a public inquiry. Judge Peter Cory was appointed last year and has been working intensively to complete his task without delay.
Judge Cory has now completed his investigation into the cases of Pat Finucane, Billy Wright and Robert Hamill. I would like to commend Judge Cory's determination and diligence which lead to the discovery of further British Army intelligence material which was then passed on to the Stevens team. I look forward to the publication of the report by Judge Cory into the murder of Pat Finucane.