by Democrat reporter
THE FAMILY of murdered defense solicitor Pat Finucane said the early release of his killer should not be overestimated and that the real focus must be to establish a fully independent, public judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death.
Speaking after the early release of former British agent Ken Barrett on 23 May under the terms of the Good Friday agreement, Mr Finucane's son Michael said the loyalist paramilitary was simply an expendable asset within a systematic framework that had facilitated collision.
Barrett had served nearly three years in prison in England and then at Maghaberry after pleading guilty to murdering Mr Finucane in September 1989.
Martin Finucane said the release had been "inevitable" but was not the primary focus of the family's efforts to establish the truth behind Mr Finucane's murder. He added that the issue of state involvement in the murder went "beyond the killing of one man".
"We can only get the truth behind the murder of Pat Finucane and the policy of collusion that facilitated it if the process of inquiry is properly and verifiably independent. The British government has run out of excuses for delaying the establishment of such an inquiry, which they agreed to during the Weston Park talks between the two governments in 2001," he said.
Michael Finucane said the British government was under pressure from the international community to ditch its controversial Inquiries Act, which gives British ministers control over the judicial process, allowing them to withhold information from the public.
"The recent resolution passed by Congress of the United States has re-affirmed the pressing need for a credibly independent inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and rejected the British assertion that the Inquiries Act is capable of providing such an inquiry. Britain cannot maintain this fiction any longer," he said. "This resolution follows hard on the heels of the motion passed by Dáil Eireann in February this year. It echoes the criticism levelled at the Inquiries Act by the Irish government, Lord Saville, Lord Woolf, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, British Irish Rights Watch, CAJ and even Judge Peter Cory himself."
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