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Bertie Ahern accuses British over Finucane

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Bertie Ahern former Taoiseach has accused the British authorities of not wanting their military authorities to be subject to open scrutiny about the murder of Pat Finucane.
Bertie Ahern said that was why they were failing to honour an agreement to have a full public inquiry into his death.
Answering questions from other party leaders on the issue, Mr Ahern said he had always felt that there had been collusion at a very high level in the killing of the Belfast solicitor in February 1989.


He said that the British government had continued to block efforts to have a full enquiry into the circumstances. Describing the situation as 'total stalemate', Mr Ahern told TDs that he would continue to raise the issue with the British.
He did not know whether they planned to proceed with their own enquiry in the autumn, but if they did he maintained the Irish Government would not cooperate.

No police or soldiers will be charged in connection with the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, the Public Prosecution Service has said.
Mr Finucane, 39, was shot dead at his home by British loyalist paramilitaries, the Ulster Defence Association, in 1989. The killing of the Irish solicitor was one of the most controversial of the 30 years of the Troubles in NI because of allegations of security force collusion.

The PPS said insufficient evidence was "critical" in its decision.
Mr Finucane's son, Michael, said the decision was "extremely disappointing and in some cases very, very perplexing".
"I think the DPP has taken a very soft and very submissive approach to the manner in which prosecutions would be mounted," Mr Finucane said. He said some of the reasons given for not proceeding did not make sense. The "Stevens Three" report published in 2003 stated that rogue elements within the police and Army in the North of Ireland helped British loyalist paramilitaries to murder Irish people in the late 1980s.
However, in a statement on Monday, the Public Prosecution Service said no further prosecution would be brought against any individual. It said some of the difficulties in bringing charges included absence of records and the death of potential witnesses.

Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey said: "This is an absolute scandal that no action is being taken. "People are being told that while the state was involved in the murders of their loved ones, no prosecution will be taken."
The SDLP's Alban Maginness said the PPS decision was "outrageous" and "the mother of all cover-ups". He called on the incoming prime minister, Gordon Brown, to announce a fully independent inquiry into Mr Finucane's murder.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International said the decision to mount no prosecutions represented "a complete failure on the part of state authorities to ensure accountability for serious human rights abuses."

In 2004, the then Secretary of State for the North of Ireland, Paul Murphy, announced that Mr Finucane's death would be the subject of a inquiry. Meanwhile, the PPS also confirmed information about weapons handed over to police by William Stobie, who admitted supplying guns used in Mr Finucane's killing. It said weapons deactivated after Stobie, a former UDA quartermaster, gave them to his police handlers in 1989 were later used in loyalist killings.


Investigators had examined the conduct of RUC officers and a civilian employee in relation to the possession and handling of five guns. The Stevens team uncovered evidence that two of the batch were either partially or fully deactivated before being handed back to Stobie.
One of the guns, a Browning pistol, was later reactivated and used to kill Irish man Aidan Wallace in west Belfast in 1991.
Less than three months later, in south Belfast, the same weapon was used in the Sean Graham's bookmakers massacre, when UDA gunmen shot dead five people.
Stobie was shot dead outside his home in 2001 just weeks after the court case against him collapsed.
Only one man has been convicted of killing Mr Finucane. Ken Barratt, 44, was jailed for 22 years in 2004 but released from jail in May last year. He is understood to be living at a secret location in England. Barrett was convicted of Finucane's murder and other crimes. He was paroled in May 2006 under terms of the north of Ireland's 1998 peace accord, which allowed more than 200 UDA convicts to walk free.

Pamela Atchison, assistant director of the Public Prosecution Service in Belfast, ruled out mounting prosecutions of any former or current members of the north of Ireland security forces.
Atchison said prosecutors had spent years considering whether to bring murder and lesser charges against former members of the British army's Force Research Unit and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, both of which have been disbanded.
But she said too much time had passed, and key witnesses had been killed or died, most critically the Force Research Unit's key double agent within the Ulster Defense Association, Brian Nelson.

Three investigations from 1989 to 2003 into collusion between the army, police and members of apparently illegal British Loyalist terror groups established that Nelson scouted out the lawyer's north Belfast home in preparation for a UDA assassination attempt.
Nelson's job as the UDA intelligence director in Belfast and simultaneously as an army spy was to encourage the group's anti-Irish hit squads to hit the "right" targets, and to stop attacks on ordinary civilians.
"There was insufficient evidence to establish that any member of FRU had agreed with Brian Nelson or any other person that Patrick Finucane should be murdered or had knowledge at the relevant time that the murder was to take place," Atchison said.
The former commander of the Force Research Unit, Brigadier Gordon Kerr, testified in defense of Nelson at his 1992 trial for involvement in several murders and attempted murders. Nelson was convicted but released from prison in 1996. He died of cancer in April 2003.
The former commander of London's Metropolitan Police, Sir John Stevens, led all three collusion probes but declined to comment Monday. In 2003 he announced he had given evidence files to the Public Prosecution Service recommending that Kerr be considered for prosecution.
A London law firm representing former members of the Force Research Unit welcomed the prosecutors' abandonment of proceedings and accused Stevens of publicizing unsubstantiated allegations against them.
The statement from the firm, Kingsley Napley, said the agents were victimized by "criminal investigations spanning a total of 13 years, whilst at the same time continuing to serve their country." It said the agents had wanted to defend their reputations but until now were "constrained by the Official Secrets Act, and the possibility of criminal proceedings, from responding."

Stevens' probes, besides exposing Nelson's double-agent work, also discovered that Ken Barrett, one of the UDA gunmen who killed the lawyer, was on the police payroll for paramilitary informers. So was the UDA man who supplied the murder weapons, William Stobie, who was assassinated by colleagues after his role as a paid informer was exposed.

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