Long, long ago, back in 1989, Pat Finucane had a thriving practice defending Catholics in Northern Ireland at the height of The Troubles, in the days of the Birmingham Six and countless other miscarriages of justice. He was a rather successful solicitor. He paid for his success with his life.
In front of his wife and children, Mr. Finucane was gunned down in his home. Recent inquiries into this and other murders demonstrated that the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the British Army colluded with loyalist paramilitaries, allowing them to carry out murder and not be charged. English justice for Irish people was one way of looking at it. The inquiries carried out by Lord Stevens resulted in the conviction of Ken Barrett, who confessed to murdering Mr. Finucane, but the Finucane family believes that there are others who are just as guilty and who should also be punished.
The series of murders that were carried out by loyalists and permitted by the authorities have come to be labelled the 'Dirty War', but the British Army and the RUC are coming out of it with clean hands. As far as the prosecutors are concerned, there is not enough evidence to bring any police officer or army soldier to trial for colluding with loyalist paramilitaries and breaking the very laws they were supposed to uphold. Not enough evidence to prove that the British Army was setting up nationalists to be murdered by loyalists.
London has been trying mightily to craft new legislation that would close the doors on the Finucane murder inquiry, as if the collusion reached far higher than has yet been realized and those in the know would rather not have anyone find out who was colluding. It has been suggested that there are soldiers currently serving, including an army brigadier, who should be facing charges of colluding with loyalist paramilitaries to murder nationalists. By claiming that there is not enough evidence to try them, the door is effectively closed.
Links have been made between UDA intelligence officer Brian Nelson and the British Army's Force Research Unit. The RUC returned a pistol to UDA member William Stobie, and that same gun was later used to murder six Catholic men in Belfast. But the prosecutors say they lack hard evidence to bring any police officer or soldier to trial for collusion.
They must have done an outstanding job of covering their tracks, for the trail to be so cold. Now that Sinn Fein is sitting on the Police Board, will they try to hot up that old trail?