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Fury Over Website's Finucane Claim

By Barry McCaffrey

Irish News 06 March 2003

THE British and Irish governments were last night urged to investigate state funding for a victim's group whose website alleges that Pat Finucane was a leading IRA man.

The SDLP and Sinn Fein last night called on both governments to investigate state funding for a website run by Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (Fair), which claims that Pat Finucane had financed IRA weapons shipments, killings and bombings.

The Fair website alleges there was "overwhelming evidence" from politicians, intelligence chiefs and former republicans to suggest that the murdered solicitor was a leading member of the IRA.

"One wonders what more evidence needs to be adduced to verify again the role Mr Pat Finucane played in the IRA campaign of genocide against the unionist populace," the website reads.

"It would be interesting, also, for the Irish government to release their intelligence files on Mr Finucane and see just how much they knew of his terrorist activities in this period leading up to his death.

"However, the crocodile tears shed by republicans over the death of Mr Finucane is nauseating in light of his terrorist past."

But Britain's most senior police officer, Sir John Stevens, who is investigating alleged security force involvement in Pat Finucane's murder, last night dismissed claims that the solicitor was involved with any paramilitary organisation.

"We are not prepared to comment on this particular website," a spokeswoman for Sir John Stevens said. "But as the commissioner made clear in Belfast on February 13, he has found no evidence to link Mr Finucane with any terrorist organisation and completely rebuts any such assertions."

SDLP assembly member Alex Attwood last night called on both governments to investigate if state funding was being used to run the Fair website.

"Any group which wilfully inflames community relations should be subject to full scrutiny from its funding bodies, " he said.

Branding FAIR'S allegations against the murdered solicitor a "disgrace," Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said: "Fairstate that they are speaking for innocent victims but are attacking Pat Finucane in the same ways that his UDA killers did, in calling him a terrorist."

While admitting that Fair did receive funding from both the British and Irish governments, group spokesman Willie Frazer insisted that the website was independently funded and insisted that the group stood by the allegations.

"The sources we have used for this stuff are not just off the street, they are a former chief constable, an MP and a former senior IRA man."

Dismissing Sir John Steven's assertion that Pat Finucane had no paramilitary links, Mr Frazer said: "John Stevens has been here a long time and still can not find who killed Pat Finucane. If that's the case, I'm not surprised he hasn't found the true facts about him either."