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Last Updated: Monday, 21 April, 2003, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
The Stevens Inquiry: Has it done enough?
Protesters at Sir John Stevens' press conference on his report into allegations of collusion between Special Branch, Army officers and Protestant terrorists

The Stevens Inquiry into the paramilitary killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane has been published.

It has detailed allegations of collaboration between elements of the security forces and loyalist killers.

But the family of the dead solicitor have already complained that the report has failed to get to whole truth and are demanding a full public inquiry.

What do you think? Does the Stevens Inquiry go far enough? Does it answer the allegations of collusion? Or should there be more investigations into the murky world of intelligence gathering during the conflict in Northern Ireland?

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

The usefulness of the Stevens Inquiry report, at least the edited highlights we have seen so far, is that it reveals for once and for all the moral equivalence of the NI security forces and the IRA in their conduct of this 30 years' war - if this is not being a tad unfair to the IRA, who did not, as far as I know, make use of proxies. A full public inquiry should in principle reveal how far up the military and political chain of command approval for this policy (of using Loyalist thugs as proxy executioners) extended.

Once the principal of moral equivalence is recognised and accepted, though, I'm not sure such an inquiry would be worth the time and expense since any individuals who would be ultimately convicted of, say, complicity in the murder of Pat Finucane, would presumably be entitled to an amnesty under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Pat, Ireland

Certainly not! The British State has just fought a war against Saddam's Iraq to remove (we were told) a brutal dictator who unleashed terror on those who dared disagree with him! Closer to home, we have just heard (what we've know for years anyway) that the British forces were conspiring with loyalists and are therefore equally responsible for the murder of Catholics. Is this not evidence of ethnic cleansing masked by a union jack?

However, I have mixed feelings on whether a public enquiry should ensue: it will cost lots of money and will (I'm sure) only prove what has been known since the beginning of this conflict. In short, bigotry in NI is supported by "our" (so-called) security forces. It makes me laugh - the UK is presently trying to install democracy, human rights and old fashioned fair-play in a country far away when it seems fair-play is still a far way away from the Province!
C Short, Scotland, UK

I don't think there should be a cover up, BUT, it seems that the current trend of bashing the security forces is a little lop-sided. If we are to pursue this 'truth' then let's get the IRA/Loyalists to come under the same scrutiny - or are they 'blameless'?
Fred, UK

I'd rather see effort go into making the peace process work. Both sides did some wrong things which they should admit, even if for truth's sake, and then forgive and forget.
Michael Harris, Ireland

These killings did not help in the fight against terrorism
Damian, Ireland

How can you people seriously condone the murder of innocent people, both Catholic and Protestant, by the very people charged with upholding the rule of law in a democratic society? Most of the people killed by these criminals were from the 'law abiding majority' and had no links with any terrorist groups. These killings did not help in the fight against terrorism in N. Ireland, if anything they prolonged it and led to the deaths of many more innocent people.
Damian, Ireland

The Stevens Inquiry may be a step forward in discovering the truth about the sad history of Northern Ireland's past, but then Sinn Fein say that the Protestant people of our country should forgive and forget. Well let's have an inquest into every Royal Ulster Constabulary officer (RUC) and Royal Irish Regimental soldier (RIR) who was killed by terrorists.
Timothy, Northern Ireland

I have lived in N. Ireland my whole life and have not had the troubles on my door step but have had incidents where I have been faced with the troubles. I think that this report told people what they wanted to hear and if it goes to a full inquiry then it will only start more trouble.
Carol, Northern Ireland

That can only be done when the full and absolute truth has been revealed
Stephen Quinlan, Ireland

I think a Public Inquiry is needed to bring this whole Pat Finucane saga to an end. That can only be done when the full and absolute truth has been revealed. It is clear the "The Steven's Enquiry 3" does not give this. The only problem I would personally have with such an enquiry taking place is the drain it would put on the public finances - look how much is being spent on tribunals here in Ireland? It's criminal when our public services are suffering!
Stephen Quinlan, Ireland

A lot of us have known for many years that this type of thing was going on, but no-one else would believe us. A bit like now when I say George Bush is after Iraq's oil...
Alistair Dabbs, UK

After 14 years spent on this investigation only 2 murders have been implicated with collusion and one of the victims was a protestant, not exactly the outcome expected from the wide ranging and deep seated conspiracy that Sinn Fein propaganda led us to believe. It seems like another sop to republican ideology is coming and another wasteful public enquiry is on the cards.
Alistair, Northern Ireland

I've toed the line my whole life but I genuinely fear the police and army
Paul, N. Ireland

A lot of people that have written here make the point that the IRA have committed a lot of crimes as well, a fact which is beyond doubt. Instead, they slam this report for picking on government forces. However, it seems that these people don't actually appreciate what it is to be a Catholic walking the streets of N Ireland. I've toed the line my whole life but I genuinely fear the police and army and see them as an oppressive force rather than upholders of a 'fair' law.
Paul, N. Ireland

I don't condone what has been uncovered by the Stevens Inquiry, but until all sides are prepared to draw a line in the sand and look to the future, there will never be true peace because most of the digging up of the past is done in the name of revenge and not in the name of justice.
Brian McCaig, UK

By categorising Pat Finucane as simply "a catholic" (rather than a lawyer whose faith happened to be Roman Catholicism) we simply perpetuate the religious divide.
Iain, UK

The Catholic/Republican communities have said for decades that this was going on. It underscores the bias of the British press that they were not heeded. There is a natural connection between loyalist gangs and the UK security/police forces- they share the same membership base, collusion is inevitable. I support the call for a public inquiry.
Owen, England

Will there be prosecutions following the Steven's Report? Dream on. Perhaps condemnation to the benches of the House of Lords may be suitable penance.
Andrew, USA

It is clear from the notes posted below that many still cannot see the wood for the clichés. For those struggling with the implications of the Stevens Inquiry, try concentrating on the following words: state-sponsored murder.

Yes it does go far enough. This government seems to bend over backwards to the IRA and Sinn Fein. It is time they said that's enough- both sides did wrong things in the past but let's look to the future. Unfortunately SF/IRA are only interested in one thing - pursuing their witch hunt against the British state because they have no wish at all to come to an agreement which does not give them everything they demand. For all our sakes they must not be allowed to succeed
John, England

The apologists for state-sponsored terrorism take my breath away. I guess they liked how Saddam controlled his political opponents.
Steve, UK

A full public enquiry is mandatory in a sensitive situation like this. What harm can it do -- and the TRUTH may unfold at last.
Genevieve Learmonth, UK

How can I ever justify the administration that I so desperately wish to be a part of when they collude with scum on the street and murder
Ross, N. Ireland

How can anyone claim that this inquiry is a waste of money? At last this inquiry has produced results that are not only significant to bring out the truth but also significant to put the past behind us and forgive the misdeeds on both sides. I feel it is wrong to link such atrocities done by the IRA over the years with murder of an innocent Catholic.

The fact is that the IRA are the scum of this society and I do feel that they should be thrown away forever. As a Unionist in N. Ireland I could hold my heads high and call myself British but how can I ever justify the administration that I so desperately wish to be a part of when they collude with scum on the street and murder? This was wrong and it should be accepted as wrong by all sides and I hope those who murder be brought to justice.
Ross, N. Ireland

We blame Saddam and his government for the murders carried out by his army and secret service and rightly wish to prosecute him and his government. Surely the same should apply in N. Ireland's case.
Ted Billings, USA

Only in Britain could such an inquiry have taken place. I don't know whether to weep or rejoice.
Guy Mitchinson, UK

I concede that much of the information brought to light by the Stevens inquiry is deeply troubling. But does anyone out there really believe that you can counter an organisation as resourceful and malevolent as the IRA and keep your hands completely clean? We are now supposed to accept the fact that Army and Police transgressions are dissected in infinite detail, with the prospect of prosecutions for the individuals concerned, whilst IRA murderers have been set free and police files closed on hundreds of unsolved Provo murders.
Paul Higgins, Canada (ex-pat Brit)

I'm disgusted that such barbarity is carried out in my name. The ham-fisted cover-up smacks of enormous arrogance on the part of the security forces. It's rare that the violence perpetrated by Western 'liberal democracies' is laid bare in such a dramatic way.
Martin Thomas, UK

There are no votes in punishing soldiers
Darrell Wood, UK

There'll probably be an enquiry but just like the Bloody Sunday enquiry no one will ever be convicted. Mr Blair knows that he can't upset the armed forces too much and there are no votes in punishing soldiers for (as they saw it) protecting their country. Post-Iraq the armed forces are so popular that Alastair Campbell will no doubt have pointed this out.
Darrell Wood, UK

Of course things will have happened, that's the reality of any war, anywhere. But what have we gained by all this? Re-opening of wounds, spin for one side, which will be countered by the other side. The reality of the war in N. Ireland was and will remain disgusting, so the truly remarkable part is that these irregularities didn't happen a whole lot more. Have a good look at the methods of the opposition.
Alison, N. Ireland

The IRA always said it was a war and in war you kill people. I have absolutely no qualms about what our security forces did. We have become far too liberal in our dealings with the IRA. However IF the security services were involved in killing Catholics who were not in any way involved with the IRA then they should be prosecuted.
Stephen, England

Why has a "legitimate" democratic Parliament wholeheartedly prosecuted a clandestine war against a section of our community, and also assisted loyalist assassins to do the same thing? Is this the open democracy that we hear of when all the murky resources of the state are employed to kill on behalf of the state?
Eamon, Ireland

A truth and reconciliation inquiry would be better
Andrew, UK

The UK services should stay above the law. However perhaps the IRA and Sinn Fein would like to come clean and have an inquiry into all their murders. I am fed up with all the one-sided mudslinging that is going on. A truth and reconciliation inquiry on the South African model would be better.
Andrew, UK

It has nothing to do with the IRA. This is about the murder of innocent people for governmental purposes. I'm shocked at how many people on this page can simply brush that aside as unimportant or in the past. If it was your husband or father was murdered by the state I'm sure you'd like something done about it. Well done to the Stevens Inquiry, let's see prosecutions.
Martin W, UK

The most shocking thing about this discussion is that there are so many people trying to justify the actions of military intelligence officers. At a time when we are supposedly carrying the beacon of freedom and democracy to countries like Iraq, how can anyone not be appalled that the British Government was involved in the assassination of many innocent people, purely because they were Irish Catholics? This simply reinforces my views on the ignorance and lack of compassion of English people when it comes to the situation in Northern Ireland.
Conal Presho, London, England

I'm surprised at how many people seem to believe that the past has no bearing on the future. In many countries (most recently Iraq), our past actions in terms of government policies have come back to haunt us, and caused us to spend lives and money fixing the problem. Isn't it sensible that we should examine a situation, see where we went wrong, and try to do better next time?
Ben, UK

In Iraq we are told to look towards the future, why can't the same be done here?
Paul, UK

Isn't it exasperating how every time anything is said about NI it relates to the past? In Iraq we are told to look towards the future, why can't the same be done here? Unless all sides are prepared to bury the hatchet and move forward it will always be the same.
Paul, UK

As a Brit I am fairly shocked by the kinds of things that have apparently been discovered in this enquiry. After all, the line peddled by our media and politicians during this period was that we were the good guys fighting the evil terrorists. For me this completely vindicates the peace process - you can't talk about "appeasement" of the IRA as if they were the only ones who committed crimes. We have to uncover the truth, and acknowledge that we too have blood on our hands (the IRA have never denied their activities), and then maybe we can have real peace without anyone feeling they have either surrendered to or "appeased" anyone.
Chris W, England

I think there should be an inquiry into the number of inquiries that are held. This inquiry would also be subject to the self-same inquiry to ensure that it is a valid inquiry and not a complete and utter waste of money and time.
J. Pooley, Brentford, London, UK

You sometimes have to bend the rules; fight fire with fire
Anonymous, UK

As an ex-army intelligence officer who served in Northern Ireland I ask two questions. Firstly, why are past and serving members of the security forces being persecuted when so many terrorists have been given amnesty? Secondly, let's be clear about what the end-result was. Why did the PIRA come to the negotiating table? Out of good conscience? I don't think so. They came because they realised they could not 'win'.

There are no winners in such a conflict, especially the vast majority of innocent people who just want to live their lives in peace but can't do so because a small minority of organised criminals and terrorists are not satisfied with being able to elect local representatives, MPs at Westminster and now MEPs. Unfortunately, in order to safeguard democracy against such 'people' you sometimes have to bend the rules; fight fire with fire.
Anonymous, UK

I'm staggered by some of the comments on this page. Are people seriously suggesting that it is OK for our government to go around colluding with death squads? I think the IRA deserve to stay in jail, but I certainly don't want my government adopting Saddam's tactics against opposition groups. Who's next?
Martyn, UK

I'm tired of inquiries, they cost money and achieve nothing. This one is no exception.
Christian Tiburtius, UK

A total waste of time and money
Sean Emmett, UK

What is the point in this report? A total waste of time and money. The only way forward is for all sides to draw a line in history, forget the past and look to the future.
Sean Emmett, UK

It is all very well criticising a peace process that lets IRA terrorists "off the hook", but I don't believe that this can be done as long as the law makers are seen to be indulging in the same practices. If anything, the misdeeds of the British Government and its agents should be dealt with even more harshly, otherwise how can the rule of law be said to have any legitimacy?
Perry, UK

The outcome of the Pat Finucane killing inquiry is about to be published yet his family have already rejected it on grounds of content. Can any tell me why we bothered to conduct this inquiry? Please stop wasting taxpayers' money on these reports until you are prepared to accept the outcome no matter what it reveals.
Paul J, UK

I believe it would be in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland if inquiries like this were forgotten about. If it is OK for the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries to be forgiven by the families of innocent victims of terrorism, why shouldn't we allow the same for the security forces? It was a dark, dark time for the province and actions were taken to try and stop the reign of terror on both sides of the political divide. It was in the best interests of the people at the time, and should be left in history.
Diarmuid, Ireland

There's a lot of the pot calling the kettle black in these issues
Paul, UK

The Republican movement in general and the IRA in particular have always described the "troubles" (an inappropriate euphemism if ever there was one) as a war. They have had no qualms in pursuing their activities thus, including activities well outside of the considered "rules" of war. However, repeatedly, they represent themselves merely as a politically oppressed and helpless group whenever the tables are turned on them.

There is never an excuse for any authority to act outside the law, but what is clear is that the police and military authorities have been hog-tied by protocol throughout this whole process whilst terrorists of the worst kind have behaved in a shameful way. There's a lot of the pot calling the kettle black in these issues. If we're going to enquire into the past let's make it complete and include especially many of the present "respectable" (another inappropriate description) NI political leadership. And we all know who they are.
Paul, UK

I thought that the warmongers and government supporters said we were all supposed to "Shut-up-and-get-behind-our-troops." Now the invasion of Iraq has occurred, it seems that sentiment can happily evaporate. One of the many sacrifices in the "peace" process being touted, is the pardoning of IRA and loyalist murderers. And yet to satisfy the IRA supporters' lust for one-sided justice, more British troops are about to be offered up for sacrifice to the great god of appeasing terrorists. Even as one who opposed the reasons for the invasion of Iraq, I have - and always will be - behind our armed forces. It's a shame that those who recently inferred I was a traitor clearly are not.
Chris, UK

It has been a long time in coming and will cause more problems than it solves
Peter M, UK

The Stevens Inquiry as undoubtedly cast some light on the murky world of military and paramilitary activity. The conclusion that there was indeed collusion between such groups comes as little surprise but how this report will be acted upon will be a measure of how effective the report is. One thing is clear - it has been a long time in coming and will cause more problems than it solves.
Peter M, UK

Finally bringing some of these things to light; hopefully those who sneered at the allegations all these years will now have the courage and decency to face up to the facts. Now let's see if there is a full public inquiry and actual prosecutions, as there should be. No one in any society should ever be subject to such heinous activities from so-called security forces. Put these state-sanctioned murderers behind bars where they belong.
Trish, USA

I am still wondering why loyalist killers are called "paramilitaries" and any others (Ireland or elsewhere) are called "terrorists"? Is one a more legal organisation than the other or do both types kill innocents for their own purposes and desires? Please stop this shady division and call a terrorist a terrorist. Or will that upset the "war on terror" if we have to address our own homegrown terrorists?
Sarah, UK

What a waste of money. It would be much better spent rejuvenating the N Ireland economy and benefiting all. If the IRA and Loyalist terrorists have been released en masse, why are we persecuting people who were on the other side of a nasty and bitter war?
Mike, UK

The report has produced exactly the answers the government expected in their fight to appease and collude with the IRA. I have absolutely no doubt that Mr Stevens was told the answers required and worked to that end. One rule for Arab terrorists and another for Irish terrorists.
Philip Ross, England

Since when did the IRA ever play by the rules?
Chris Law, UK

Northern Ireland was and still is a "dirty war" with an enemy of the state that was not clearly definable. Despite all the wise words and wishes of the wider community the IRA aren't going away and even if they renounce violence to secure their leaders' political seats in the NI Assembly, the intimidation, extortion and exploitation will continue. However if people in trusted government places committed offences they should be punished - but only if Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are bought to book as well.
Andy, UK

It is ironic that Northern Ireland is awash with cries of justice where the state is concerned. The people who shout loudest are the people whose activities made the existence of the FRU and Special Branch necessary to protect the law abiding majority. Whatever comes out of this report, we must never lose sight of the fact that Special Branch and their like within the security forces saved the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands, of innocent people who simply wanted to get on with their lives rather than immerse themselves in the murky world of paramilitarism. For that they deserve our thanks not our condemnation.
Ken Allen, N. Ireland

Are there going to be such castigations in the press over the continuing refusal of the IRA not to decommission? I doubt it. This gives yet another platform for terrorist appeasers to have a go at the majority of law abiding police officers and intelligence agents who are trying to maintain law and order in Northern Ireland. Instead of supporting any cause that looks good on the world stage, maybe for once the Government should support law enforcement in Northern Ireland.
Robert Duncan, UK

The collusion of the forces of law and order is abhorrent to any right minded law-abiding citizen. But the question has to be asked, how many lives have been saved by removal of some of these terrorist godfathers and foot soldiers? Maybe just maybe in a time where a whole regime has been removed and thousands killed to free its citizens from tyranny (Iraq) these people have actually saved the poor long suffering innocent law abiding citizens of Northern Ireland from more pain and misery!
Mike Smyth, UK

I would be interested to know how much this enquiry cost. What good will come out of this? The people involved will be retired or have died. The whole infrastructure based in Northern Ireland will have changed. The only thing I can see that will be achieved by this exercise is Pat Finucane's family being able to vent their anger and feel that justice is being done.
Tony, Hammersmith, UK

Collusion report to renew inquiry calls
16 Apr 03  |  Northern Ireland

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