Criticizing the Stevens Report, Finucane said it was flawed at its heart because it presumed there was a “systems fault, an examination of what went wrong in Northern Ireland and how that can be prevented in the future.
“But nothing went wrong. The ‘system’ worked exactly as intended and, in the British government’s eyes, it worked perfectly.
“The policy was – and may yet be – to harness the killing potential of loyalist paramilitaries, to increase that potential through weapons and information and to direct those resources against selected targets so that the government could be rid of its enemies,” he said.
Finucane said Sir John Stevens had insisted that his publication would be extensive and frank. “Despite this, the completion and publication of the report has been postponed a number of times, giving rise to concerns that the report itself was subject to political pressure.
“The latest Stevens report is an embodiment of broken promises and dishonored commitments. It carries the hallmark of all of Stevens’ work in Northern Ireland: secrecy and repression.
“We are convinced beyond any doubt that Britain’s policy included amongst its victims one lawyer the rule of law could not stop. I refer, of course, to my late father, Patrick Finucane.
“His murder is just one example of what the British government was prepared to do in order to further its own ends, but he is not the only casualty. My family and I call upon the British government once again to establish a full independent judicial public inquiry into the murder and the policy of collusion,” Finucane said.
“Many people were murdered by these agents of the British state and this is the real price of Sir John Steven’s report. It has been paid for not just with public money but with the lives of many people and it is for them and their families that the truth must be known.”
The British government, however, through the Northern secretary, Paul Murphy, said the criminal justice system must be allowed to take its course as Sir John had recommended prosecutions.
This response is the one feared by campaigners for a public inquiry as prosecutions could delay it for years. The Finucane family are just one that believes the Stevens inquiry is also merely a delaying tactic, along with the appointment of a retired Canadian judge, Peter Cory, to establish if an inquiry is justified.
Murphy said: “Sir John’s report raises very disturbing issues. The fact that the events at the core of the investigations date back to the 80’s does not diminish their seriousness.
“It is precisely because the government views these matters so seriously that we asked Judge Cory to report. He will do so in the autumn. The chief constable, Hugh Orde, who was a key part of the Stevens inquiry team, is very well placed to take forward Sir John’s recommendations.”
In stark contrast to nationalist reaction, unionists complained about the inquiry, not the shocking revelations it had uncovered. The DUP justice spokesman, Ian Paisley junior, said the inquiry had been a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Fred Cobain, an Ulster Unionist assemblyman and member of the police board, said Stevens had proved nothing and consisted merely of allegations. Sammy Wilson of the DUP said the report would be used to retrospectively justify the murder of police officers while his party leader, David Trimble, said those accused were only guilty of “over-enthusiasm.”
SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, however, said a public inquiry should not wait until the autumn, especially bearing in mind the recent death, apparently from natural causes, of a potential key witness in any public inquiry, UDA double agent and British mrmy spy, Brian Nelson.
“The SDLP does not believe that the families of those murdered with state collusion should have to wait until October. They have already waited long enough. There is no reason why both governments cannot ask Judge Cory to publish his report now,” Durkan said.
Hitting out at the Ulster Unionist leader, Durkan said: “This was not about some people being over enthusiastic as David Trimble disgracefully suggests.
“Nor was it just about failing to warn nationalists. It was about security force involvement in murder. Unionist politicians and the British establishment cannot deny or diminish the true scale of this any longer.
“Stevens has now sent files to the director of public prosecutions. The public is asked to have confidence in this. But this is the same DPP who without any explanation dropped arms possession charges against [UDA informer and RUC agent] William Stobie after he threatened to reveal all that he knew about the Finucane killing.
“So clearly the public will not have confidence in the DPP on this. That is why the only way forward has to be a full public independent judicial inquiry,” Durkan said.
Sinn F?in president Gerry Adams said the report was “the tip of the iceberg. When Sinn F?in first raised the issue of the British policy of collusion in the late 1980’s, we were a lone voice along with the families of those killed in attempting to expose this scandal.
“We brought this issue into the negotiations and presented a dossier to the British prime minister. The British military and police controlled and directed the activities of the various loyalist death squads.
“This was about more than simply passing on information. This was about the deliberate targeting and assassination of citizens. Many of these people were members of my party. It was an attempt to intimidate and brutalize an entire community. In any other country this would bring a government to its knees.”
Tomorrow, Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan police commissioner, will deliver his long-awaited report on his third investigation into matters of collusion in Northern Ireland, known as Stevens 3, to the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch, the Committee on the Administration of Justice, Human Rights Watch and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights renewed their call for an inquiry into all the circumstances surrounding the Finucane killing.
They said they were concerned that the original summary of the full report may have been drastically cut so as to shield some of its contents from public scrutiny.
The human rights groups added that the evidence of collusion and subsequent cover-ups in the case implicates at least three intelligence agencies,: the special branch of the former Royal Ulster Constabulary, whose members have been assimilated into the current Police Service of Northern Ireland; the British army’s secret intelligence unit known as the Force Research Unit; and MI5, the UK’s secret service.