Flash: British government announce three public inquiries
The British government has given the go ahead for inquiries into
three controversial killings, but has postponed an inquiry into
the murder of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane.
Public inquiries are to be set up immediately into the cases of
alleged British collusion in the murders of Catholic father of
two Robert Hamill, human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson and
unionist paramilitary Billy Wright.
British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy announced today that an inquiry
into the murder of Pat Finucane would get under way once criminal
prosecutions finish later this year.
The retired Canadian judge, Peter Cory, examined allegations of
British security force collusion in the killings and recommended
public inquiries into all four.
The public inquiries have been set up under the 1998 Police Act
which appears to give all of the powers to the inquiries which
are available to Lord Saville in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. The
terms of the inquiry, their composition and other details have
yet to be confirmed, however.
Mr Murphy was speaking as the publication of the actual reports
into the four killings by Judge Cory was delayed once again.
Ten pages of the Cory Report have been edited, ``for privacy and
protection'', according to the British government.
Barra McGrory, acting for the Nelson and Hamill families,
speaking in response to today's announcement, said: ``First of
all, we would wish to express our gratitude to his honour, Judge
Cory and his team for the time and effort they have clearly
devotoed to the researching and preparation of this report.
``We are both horrified and saddened, if not entirely surprised,
by the graphic descrition of the abuse and vilification of
Rosemary Nelson by members of the RUC contained within this
``We are deeply affected by the apparent abject failure of the
Northern Ireland Office and of the chief constable at the time
[Ronnie Flanagan] to take seriously the death threats issued to
Rosemary shortly before her murder.
``Had Rosemary been treated with the respect and diginity her
professional position deserved, she might well be alive today.
``We are, however disappointed that Judge Cory has felt unable to
comment in any great detail on certain aspects of the Colin Port
investigation which we feel merit futher examination.
``There are matters, however, which we hope and expect will be
adressed in the forthcoming public inquiry.
``As Rosemary campaigned herself for a public inquiry into the
murder of her colleague Pat Finucane, we share the
disaappointment of Geraldine and family that an immediate inquiry
has not been given. They have our continued support.''
Billy Wright's father David welcomed the inquiry and Judge Cory's
``Judge Cory has raised a number of serious questions about the
conduct and actions of the Prison Authorities and Intelligence
Agencies,'' he said.
Diane Hamill, sister of Robert Hamill, said her family was
pleased the British government followed on Judge Cory's
recommendation in her case.
``For the last seven years this is all we have tried to get from
the night that my brother was attacked and allowed to be
murdered,'' she said.
``Judge Cory, a man of great integrity, has obviously agreed with
us after his exhaustive research and now the British Government
has acknowledged the need to establish one.''
Unionists responded cynically. Democratic Unionist Jim Allister
said it was ``outrageous'' that ``the taxpayer is going for years to
come to be subjected to a series of Saville-type inquiries,
costing further hundreds of millions.''
Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly said before today's announcement that
there would be considerable anger if the British government
delayed an inquiry into the 1989 murder of Pat Finucane.
The North Belfast Assembly member said: ``It is now 15 years since
the murder of Pat Finucane and if the briefings are to be
believed, it could be at least 17 years before his family could
even start to get to the bottom of what happened.
``That is unacceptable. The British government gave a commitment
after the Weston Park talks in 2001 that it would act on Judge
``The families and Sinn Fein were sceptical about Judge Cory
examining whether there should be public inquiries but, to be
fair to him, he has been rigorous.
``However, our suspicion that this was merely a long-fingering
exercise by the British government will be confirmed if, as
people are being told, there is a delay to an inquiry on the