In the letter to Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald, the Brehons state that members of the society, as well as signatories to the letter who represent other Irish-American organizations, had attended last month’s conference in Dublin dedicated to the life and legacy of Finucane.
“Our delegates were disturbed to learn that the British government continues to frustrate the will of the United States Congress as expressed in U.S. Joint House Resolution (H.CON.RES.20), supporting a full, public, independent, international inquiry into the murder of Belfast human rights lawyer Patrick Finucane,” the letter to Sheinwald stated.
It asks Sheinwald to take note that the joint resolution expressly rejects “any idea” that an inquiry be conducted “under the limited authority” of the British government’s Inquiries Act of 2005.
“We need not remind Your Excellency that this resolution, one of many similarly worded instruments, was passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the 110th Congress, whose members included former senators Barack Obama and Joseph Biden,” the letter continued.
“You are no doubt also familiar with President Obama’s campaign pledge supporting Judge Cory’s recommendation for a full, public, independent, international inquiry, and of the long-standing public support for the Finucane family’s campaign on the parts of both Vice-President Biden and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.”
In that light, the signatories stated, delegates at the conference were particularly concerned to read the recent letter from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to the legal representatives of the Finucane family which suggested that the very idea of proceeding with a full, public, independent, international inquiry might be re-examined by the British government “in the public interest.”
The public interest, as reflected in the joint resolution, was, the letter added, “crystal clear” and required no re-examination.
“The undersigned are fully confident that neither Congress, nor the Obama administration will tolerate any further obfuscation regarding the British government’s obligations, namely its commitment to hold an international, independent inquiry.
“This commitment has the imprimatur of international law, having been recommended by Judge Peter Cory, specifically under the terms of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act of 1921, and agreed to by both Irish and British governments at Weston Park in 2003 in furtherance of the U.S. brokered Good Friday agreement.”
The signatories followed with a direct request: “kindly advise if you do not concur with any of the foregoing.”
And they concluded: “In advance of the forthcoming St. Patrick’s Day activities across the United States, the undersigned respectfully request an urgent meeting with Your Excellency to clarify your government’s intentions to honor its international obligations and to give full and unfettered effect to congressional policy regarding this matter.
“We sincerely hope that your clarifications will obviate the need for us to raise any alarm at the highest levels of U.S. government.”
The letter is signed by Brehon founding member General James Cullen; Kate McCabe, national president of the Irish American Unity Conference; Robert Dunne, president of the New York Brehon Law Society; Seamus Boyle, national president of the AOH;
Sean Riordan, president of the Nassau County Brehons; Melissa Kennedy, president of the Irish Law Students Association at CUNY School of Law; Brian O’Keefe, president of the Suffolk County Brehons; Paul Doris of Irish Northern Aid; Gerard McCabe of the Irish American Building Society, and Michael Glass, who serves on the U.S. State Department advisory committee on Iris affairs.
Copies of the letter have been sent to Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the committee’s and ranking member, Senator Richard Lugar.