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Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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03.12.07
FAIR Challenges Pat Finucane Centre

FAIR has challenged the Pat Finucane Centre for misleading the public. The legal centre named after PIRA terrorist and pseudo-lawyer Pat Finucane has once more taken a meaningless and obvious judgement from Europe and attempted to distort and inflate its significance. This is not professional legal behaviour it is propaganda and aims to give the impression the European Courts have supported a range of allegations made by Republicans when in reality the Strasburg based court delivered a very limited and mundane judgement. It is also clear that the case heard before the court was incomplete with the British government failing to drive home the particular circumstances of cases.

The main issue is the evidence upon which the case is based and the failure of both the British lawyers and the judges themselves to scrutinize the evidence properly. In regard to witness statements the fact that many witnesses refused to give statements or the issue of police investigations failed to take into account that normal police actions were restricted due to the circumstances of the time. For example when the police and army attended the scene of one attack Donnelly’s Bar they were attacked by an angry mob with stones and bottles. Valuable time and evidence was lost due to the actions of these individuals many of them the alleged victims of the attack. Secondly due to the threat of Republican terrorist attack door to door inquiries and many aspects of normal policing could not be conducted. This had a more detrimental effect on the police investigation than anything else.

Having reviewed the recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights it is clearly far from the decisive definitive victory Republican groups are claiming. Indeed it is after the years of police reform a non-issue and a waste of money. Sadly it is the infamous Madden & Finucane firm of solicitors, which really benefits. The case, which has dragged on for years, does not represent a new victory simply a restatement of what has previously been accepted. It is perhaps a necessary education in Human Rights for slow learning Republicans but it is not what they now attempt to promote.

The main issue upon which the case hinged was whether a convicted criminal and bent cop John Weir was a credible witness. Secondly whether his allegations should be assessed as sufficiently credible to require a full investigation. His claims which he had never mentioned until1999 and then to the media were based largely on hearsay and speculation and not pointing to any source of hard evidence. As the British government case stated “Further, Weir's credibility was seriously in doubt due to his own background and the fact that he did not make the allegations earlier despite having had the opportunity. For a long period he had gone to ground, leaving the United Kingdom and making himself untraceable.” Hardly the best pedigree for a star witness. Despite this and after there had been a police investigation into the murders immediately after they occurred, with an inquest; there had also been a second police investigation in 1978-1981 in light of allegations made and information provided by McCaughey and information from McClure and Shields, the police launched a third investigation in 1999. A series of seven interviews were conducted, under cautions, between July and December 2001, of those individuals central to Weir's account who could be traced. No charges were preferred. No admissions were made by any interviewee indeed the predominate response was to question the motives, mental state and credibility of Weir. Interviews were also conducted with less central personalities and with police officers involved in interviewing Weir in 1978. The latter stated that Weir had not mentioned the matters now being alleged.

One must question why Weir chose to make such allegations at this time. William Frazer may be able to shed some light on both his mental state and motivation at this time. “ I was introduced to Weir by a member of the media, and I at once suspected his motivations. He clearly felt aggrieved at the RUC for catching him and for his conviction and I would conclude that he has tried to seek revenge by telling these stories. He also appeared vague and fanciful in terms of detail and when I pressed him on aspects of his story I could easily tell he didn’t know the area or the individuals in the way he claimed. Basic details, which anyone would remember he was ignorant of and when I then led him with a number of obvious falsehoods he confirmed my fears. In the course of the discussion he, knowing my role in the victims sector, offered to sell me a shipment of illegal weapons. On seeing my response he offered a boatload of mahogany wood then a lucrative road construction contract in Africa. I thought he was joking but he assured me of his contacts living as he was in Africa. I don’t suffer fools gladly so the conversation was brief, however I did warn the journalist and also informed the police. I feel that they RUC/PSNI did not take him seriously because the man is clearly a Walter Mitty and my information confirmed that. Sadly many people some for genuine reasons as they seek truth others for purely Republican propaganda reasons have latched onto this man and his fairy-tales. Now we see the European courts taken in by such nonsense, it must stop and stop now!”

 



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