Category: Archive

Finucane family to sue UUP’s Magginis

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST — Geraldine Finucane, the widow of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, and her three children are suing Ulster Unionist MP Ken Maginnis, over allegations he made about their motives for demanding a public inquiry into the killing.

Libel writs on behalf of Geraldine, John, Michael and Catherine Finucane were served on Maginnis on Thursday, seeking damages for libel and an injunction to prevent him making any further comment considered defamatory of them. Maginnis says he will vigorously contest the case.

When first told the Finucane family would be suing him, Maginnis said: "I have enough of these letters to paper the wall in my study. My attitude would be based on the old adage, ‘see you in court.’ "

Pat Finucane was shot dead in front of his family during Sunday dinner at his home in North Belfast in February 1989. In response to Geraldine Finucane’s refusal to cooperate with an inquiry by London police officer John Stevens, Maginnis said her dead husband had been "inextricably linked" to the IRA.

Three of Finucane’s brothers have been, at some stage, involved with the IRA. John was killed in a car crash while on an IRA operation in June 1972. Seamus and Dermot have both served prison sentences for paramilitary offenses.

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Friends and family of Pat Finucane have always said, however, that he saw an alternative response to the historical problems facing Northern Ireland.

At the inquest into his death, an RUC officer said: "The police refute the claim that Mr. Finucane was a member of PIRA. He was just another law-abiding citizen going about his professional duties in a professional manner."

Earlier this year, Maginnis described people involved in the campaign for an independent inquiry into Finucane’s murder as "innocent, naive and malicious," and accused them of being involved in a "deceitful propaganda campaign alleging collusion" between the RUC/British Army and the UDA, which shot him.

Maginnis’s comments were immediately condemned by the Irish government, the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the Criminal Bar Association. The family solicitors wrote to him demanding a retraction, saying his comments "infringed the honesty, integrity and motivation of their client’s decision not to cooperate with the Stevens inquiry."

A week later, Sir John Hermon, the former RUC chief constable, backed the MP’s comments about the dead solicitor, claiming that he been associated with the IRA and had used his position to "act as a contact between suspects in custody and republicans on the outside."

Maginnis said he would be defending his remarks: "I see this as an attempt to intimidate me and I will not be intimidated. These claims are in the hands of my solicitor and will be contested vigorously," he said.

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