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Panorama Tuesday, 18 June, 2002, 21:09 GMT 22:09 UK
13-year wait for Finucane answers
Michael Finucane and Patrick Finucane
Michael Finucane witnessed his father's murder
13-year wait for Finucane answers

Patrick Finucane, a high profile lawyer, was shot dead in front of his family at home in Belfast, in 1989.

In a major, two-part Panorama report, his son Michael speaks out about the traumatic attack and the answers that he and others are still waiting for.

"I remember sitting at the dinner table... There was a bang from the hallway, not a bang that sounded like a gunshot - it sounded like a kick or a... a force being applied to... in this case a door, our front door...

"My father jumped up from the top end of the table and my mother behind him. He looked out of the kitchen door and down the hallway and saw what was coming towards him...

Michael Finucane
Michael Finucane: "we are entitled to answers"
"He closed... he slammed the door shut, held it shut by the handle while my mother ran behind him and hit the personal attack button...

"The next thing I remember is being on the floor, against the wall in the corner, holding my younger brother and sister and shots going off very loud and it seemed like forever...

"At that point my memory blanks but the thing I remember most is the noise... It's a place I don't care to visit very often, but I know it's there, and sometimes... sometimes I go back and visit, but not often. I try not to dwell on it."

Targeted by police

In one of the most controversial murders of the Northern Ireland "troubles", Patrick Finucane had been selected by the police as a target for assassination.

In his work, he had defended many active IRA clients. One was Patrick McGeown, who had been accused of organising the killing of two army corporals. Finucane got the charges dropped.

His son Michael said: "he was a young lawyer... and as any person in the legal business will tell you, his best years were in front of him... The work he was doing was high profile due to the nature of the work and the controversy that surrounded many of the issues."

IRA allegations an 'insult'

Patrick Finucane
Patrick Finucane defended IRA clients but he was not an IRA member himself
But some detectives made no distinction between Pat Finucane the solicitor and his clients.

Military intelligence had recorded in their secret files that Pat Finucane was "sympathetic to the Provisional IRA".

Michael told Panorama: "I feel that it's an insult, an egregious insult. It was easy for them to believe... that he was a member of the IRA.

"I think their limited mentalities did not stretch to differentiating between the role of the lawyer and the offence suspected of the client. The line between the two was not apparent to them."

Unanswered questions

Patrick Finucane was not the only innocent, Catholic civilian to be murdered in this way.

So many people have been asked to swallow so much pain

Michael Finucane
And his case was not the only one that Military Intelligence tried to cover up and deny responsibility for.

"So many people, I think, have been asked to swallow so much pain and have done so, my family included. But if we are prepared to do that, then we ought not to be expected to put up with lies and deceit as well."

The head of the Metropolitan Police in London, Sir John Stevens, has been investigating the death of Patrick Finucane since 1999.

His report, due later this month, is hoped to provide some answers for the families of murder victims who have been waiting for thirteen years.

In Michael Finucane's words: "there are a lot of other people out there who are entitled to answers."

Denis Murray, BBC Ireland correspondent
A BBC Ten O'clock news report on the Panorama investigation
Ken Barrett
"Finucane would have been alive today if the Peelers hadn't interfered."
Alan Simpson, Detective Superintendent RUC 1970-93
"This was a most vicious and angry attack... particularly venemous... so much hate attached."
Det. Sgt. Benwell, of the Stevens Inquiry 1989-1994
On how he thinks the army is not telling the truth about the murder of Finucane.
Watch the BBC One trail
"A story of death squads... Panorama exposes the truth"
Panorama: A Licence to Murder

See also:

06 Oct 00 | Archive
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