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Wednesday, 20 June, 2001, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
US committee supports inquiry call
Belfast home of solicitor Pat Finucane where he was killed by loyallists
Pat Finucane was murdered in his Belfast home
The US National Committee on American Foreign Policy has called for a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.

The group said the killing of the Belfast solicitor in 1989 raised human rights issues and that claims of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries had to be fully investigated.

Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine, who travelled to New York to speak to the committee on Tuesday, said she believed its support brings an inquiry another step closer.

The leading Catholic solicitor was shot dead by loyalist gunmen in front of his wife and three children at his home in Belfast in February 1989.

'Government arrogant'

Mrs Finucane welcomed the committee's intervention and said it would increase the pressure on the British Government to establish a public inquiry.

Pat's murder has become a very complex issue and has moved far beyond the death of the man himself

Geraldine Finucane

"I think it is most important because any pressure that has ever been levied from the US has been listened to by the British Government," she said.

"They have arrogantly dismissed calls from the United Nations but it seems that when the US makes a call it carries more weight."

Mrs Finucane said she did not expect to see any immediate change from the British Government.

But she added: "I do not expect anything any more. I still would be surprised by things when they do happen despite all that has come out in the past.

"I am hopeful that the truth will come out eventually."

'Human rights violations'

The committee's chairman, Bill Flynn, said the murder raised issues of human rights violations which had to be put to rest for the peace process in Northern Ireland to succeed.

Mr Finucane's death has been surrounded by claims that he died as a result of collusion between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.

The murder and collusion allegations are being investigated by a team of police officers from different UK forces, headed by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens.

William Stobie
William Stobie: Accused of supplying guns for murder
One man, William Stobie, a former UDA quartermaster who worked as a Special Branch agent, currently awaits trial on charges of aiding and abetting the murder.

Mr Flynn said: "This murder involved alleged collusion between the RUC and the British Army and loyalist paramilitaries, as well as other British institutions.

"The National Committee on American Foreign Policy adds its voice to those calling for a public inquiry."

Mr Flynn said the group would be raising the profile of the issue with senior politicians in America and added: "It is important that the American public understand the connection between Pat Finucane and the Policing Bill and Decommissioning."

Mrs Finucane told the group the questions surrounding her husband's murder needed answers.

"Pat's murder has become a very complex issue and has moved far beyond the death of the man himself," she said.

"This is an issue of grave public importance and must be dealt with accordingly."

Peter Madden, a former legal partner of Mr Finucane's, added that the issue had to be resolved for Northern Ireland to "draw a line under the past".

"In order to learn from the past we need to know exactly what's happened," he said.

"We need to know what went on behind the scenes.

"We need to be sure that facts are not covered up to protect those who are trusted to uphold the law."

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See also:

15 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Finucane: More questions for undercover unit
05 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Finucane accused 'on death list'
08 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
'Try or release Finucane accused'
27 Oct 99 | Northern Ireland
Journalist wins court battle over notes
27 Oct 99 | Northern Ireland
Police defend court action against journalist
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