RESPONSE TO STEVENS ENQUIRY REPORT
Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens presented his report into allegations of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland on 17 April 2003. Over a period of fourteen years Sir John and his team took 9256 statements,10391 documents were recorded (totalling over 1 million pages)and 16194 exhibits were seized.
After this huge expenditure of public funds Sir John was only able to conclude "collusion with loyalists was restricted to a small number of members of the security forces and is neither widespread nor institutionalised". However, when we look at the published summary by Stevens it appears that many fatal flaws exist in his analysis of this claimed limited collusion.
Definition of Collusion
Sir John, like Sir William MacPherson in his definition of institutionalised racism, seeks to stretch the English language and legal definitions to prove his pre-suppostional conclusions about collusion. He said collusion was "evidenced in many ways" and ranges from "the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, through to the extreme of agents being involved in murder." We suggest that anyone with a modicum of objectivity could see that only the last two could conceivably be regarded as possibly giving rise to collusion.
A senior police detective who assisted Sir John during his first inquiry, in 1990 agrees and states in The Sunday Life of 20/04/03 that "none of those points constitute collusion, individually or collectively. They may highlight incompetence, bad management, and poor agent-handling, but no way do they add up to collusion." Even more damningly he concludes that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner had yet to make public one piece of evidence that amounted to collusion by an RUC Special Branch officer!
The word "collusion" is an emotive one and has obvious connotations associatedwith it. In the context of Northern Ireland with the possibility of reprisals resulting from careless words, Sir John Stevens has been reckless and foolish, we believe, in trying to force a meaning on it that does not sit with its natural usage.
On 12 February 1989 Belfast solicitor, Pat Finucane, was murdered in his home by gunmen from the Ulster Freedom Fighters. Much has been claimed and reported about Mr Pat Finucane in the press and by republicans but what actually are the facts about the self-styled "human rights lawyer" Mr Finucane.
Ulster Unionist Security Expert and former UDR Major, Ken Maginnis MP said on 28/04/1999 "The reality is that Pat Finucane was a member of a dedicated Republican family, many of whose members were actively engaged in terrorist activity - that is a proven fact."
Let us look carefully at the decent "human rights" lawyer's background and family:
Pat Finucane's brother, John, an IRA man, was killed on active service in a car crash in the Falls Road, Belfast, in 1972. Another terrorist brother Dermot successfully contested attempts to extradite him to Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic, while a third brother was the fiancée of Mairead Farrell, one of the IRA trio shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar in 1988. If the press are to be believed then Pat Finucane was an anomaly in his family by campaigning for "human rights" while his brothers were engaged in destroying human rights by murdering innocent Protestants. It is also puzzling for Unionists why Sinn Fein/IRA are campaigning so vigorously to defend the reputation of Mr Finucane as that of a "human rights lawyer" whilst justifying their murder of the Protestant Human Rights Lawyer, Mr Edgar Graham at Queen's University.
RUC Chief Constable's Witness
Sir John Hermon, the former RUC Chief Constable, stated that Pat Finucane had been associated with the IRA and had used his position to "act as a contact between suspects in custody and republicans on the outside". As Sir John was the RUC Chief Constable at the time and had access to all intelligence reports on the activities of Mr Finucane we can assume that he of all people is a credible and reliable witness.
Former IRA Chief of Staff's Witness
Sean O'Callaghan was the former Chief of Staff of the IRA and his veracity as a witness has been corroborated by both the British and Irish Governments, the Irish courts and their intelligence services. Whilst a part of the IRA terrorist organisation, Mr O'Callaghan had intimate knowledge of the machinations and senior personnel of the IRA. Writing in The Spectator Magazine on 21 Oct 2000 he said:
I take issue, however, with one recurring phrase in this affair, and that is the description of Pat Finucane as a 'human-rights lawyer'. 'Human-rights lawyer' suggests a person fiercely and without favour defending the human rights of citizens from state or terrorist abuse of such rights.
It does not suggest a person with ferociously strongly held political views, or membership of a secret terrorist organisation responsible for murder, mutilation and intimidation. But the truth, whether people like it or not, is that Pat Finucane was an Irish republican and a member of the IRA. Unless you believe that terrorists are justified in using the legitimate legal system to their advantage, he was not a 'human-rights lawyer'.
Let me go further. Pat Finucane was firstly an IRA volunteer of some seniority and secondly a solicitor who mostly represented IRA prisoners or the families of IRA volunteers killed by the security forces. I speak from personal knowledge.
I first met Pat Finucane in 1980 at a high-level IRA finance meeting in Letterkenny in the Irish Republic. Also present were Gerry Adams, Pat Doherty, Tom Cahill, Gerry Fitzgerald and several other people. The meeting took place in the upstairs room of a pub.
Adams and Pat Finucane arrived together in the morning and left at lunchtime.At that time, IRA finances were in a dire state and the meeting drew together people from IRA GHQ and its Northern and Southern Commands to discuss ways of putting its financial operation on a more structured footing.
Pat Finucane may have been introduced by name; others, such as Tom Cahill, certainly were. At the time I was working for the Irish government and faithfully reported back details of the meeting, which was exclusively composed of members of the IRA.
The next time I met him was in December 1988 in Crumlin Road Jail in Belfast. I was on remand after giving myself up to the police and admitting my involvement in numerous terrorist crimes in Northern Ireland in the mid-1970s. Pat Finucane tried officially to become my lawyer, but I did not sign the necessary forms. He did, however, visit me on a number of occasions. His purpose? To discover what I had told the RUC and to ascertain whether I intended to give evidence against accomplices.
He was very wary about what he said in the visiting cell, but in a cell underneath the courtroom he asked me one day what else I had admitted. I mentioned the attempted murder of a loyalist terrorist and went into some detail. He looked at me and said, 'And after all that, you still missed him.' There was no doubt that he meant the comment as a reprimand. Republican and loyalist terrorist organisations have always desperately needed solicitors whose loyalty is not to their clients but to the security of the terrorist organisation. A suspected terrorist is arrested and is being questioned. A named solicitor is requested - let us suppose he is Pat Finucane. He wants to know if any statements have been made and any arms dumps, safe houses, individuals and so on compromised. He instructs his client to keep his mouth shut - 'Whatever you say, say nothing' - and then reports back to the IRA. That was one reason why Pat Finucane was so valuable.
Also, of course, he had almost unhindered access to clients on remand, which ensured a constant stream of messages between the prisoners and the IRA leadership on the outside, and between different sections of the prison.
I believe a full and proper inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane is both necessary and desirable. There is at present an inquiry into 'Bloody Sunday' and calls for one into the murder of Rosemary Nelson, a Lurgan solicitor. I have no problems with inquiries where it has been established that there are reasonable grounds to question the role of agents of the state. What I find repugnant, however, is the lack of honesty.
Did Pat Finucane or Rosemary Nelson ever campaign against the mutilation beatings, the knee-cappings or the exiling? Did they or the British state (even since the Belfast Agreement) ever call for an inquiry into the role of the present Northern Ireland Minister for Education in the IRA terrorist campaign?
What about Le Mons, Claudy, Birmingham, Enniskillen and dozens of other atrocities? What about the role of the Irish Republic in the formation of the Provisional IRA? It strikes me that what is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander.
If the intent in Northern Ireland was to create a peaceful period so that politicians could put a political framework in place, it follows that true reconciliation should be the next step. What we are seeing now is not reconciliation, but a desire by nationalists to continue the 'war' by other means. The blatant selectivity and hypocrisy is disgraceful.
I have been very reluctant to become involved in the Pat Finucane affair. His murder, I repeat, was wrong and I utterly condemn it. He was a member of the IRA, but that does not carry a death sentence. I wish that instead he had faced the full rigour of the law.
Whatever Pat Finucane was, he was not a 'human-rights' lawyer. For him to be so described is an insult to those who have without favour or prejudice upheld the human rights of citizens throughout the world.
There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that Mr Pat Finucane was a leading member of the IRA. Testimony to this fact has been given by leading politicians, Intelligence Chiefs and credible witnesses from within the IRA itself yet these facts are ignored by Sir John Stevens, republican apologists in the press and self-styled "civil libertarians." What is amazing in Sir John Stevens Report is that he is quite content to slander the RUC Special Branch on the basis of rumour and the testimony of self-confessed terrorists like William Stobie and Brian Nelson (who he admits were not telling him the "full picture") yet attempts to refute the overwhelming facts that Pat Finucane was an IRA terrorist.
Senior RUC officers briefed the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Rt. Hon Douglas Hogg QC, MP, that 'some solicitors were unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA'. Mr Hogg repeated this during a debate on the Prevention of Terrorism legislation in the House of Commons on 17th January 1989. Paradoxically, Stevens concludes of this statement by Douglas Hogg "To the extent that they were based on information passed by the RUC, they were not justifiable and the Enquiry concludes that the Minister was compromised." Maybe, Sir John could tell us what more evidence would be required for such comments to be "justified."
FAIR strongly suggests Sir John Stevens credibility and objectivity in carrying out investigative legal roles must now be questioned. If this is supposed to be a balanced and objective legal analysis, then it is no wonder that unsolved crime is out of control in London. One wonders what more evidence needs to be adduced to verify the role Mr Pat Finucane played in the IRA campaign of genocide against the Unionist populace. Instead, we are subjected to claims of "collusion" and witness statements from unnamed "police sources" and loyalist "informers" while the named and credible witnesses set out above openly declare the facts. 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.
Geraldine Finucane is the only adult witness to her husband's murder by the UFF. She has consistently refused to co-operate with the Stevens Inquiry. FAIR believes that, at the very least, Mrs Finucane should be charged with obstructing justice and withholding information. Also, we wonder why Sir John Stevens has not named and investigated her as, under his new definition of collusion, by her actions she must be "colluding" with the police and the terrorists who murdered her husband! We would have thought that the much vaunted "rule of law" applies to Mrs Finucane also.
William Alfred Stobie
This man claimed to be a quartermaster for the Ulster Defence Association and an agent of the RUC Special Branch in an interview with journalist, Mr Neil Mulholland in 1990. Stevens claimed that "Stobie was recruited as an agent by the RUC Special Branch in November 1987 following his arrest for the murder of Brian Adam Lambert for which he was released without charge."
Stevens also states "it has now been established that before the murder of Patrick Finucane, Stobie supplied information of a murder being planned. He also provided significant information to his Special Branch handlers in the days after the murder. This principally concerned the collection of a firearm. However this vital information did not reach the original murder enquiry team."
Firstly, Stevens adduces no actual evidence in his report of any information being passed to Special Branch by Stobie and more importantly he does not show, even if Special Branch did know of the planned attack on Pat Finucane, that the lack of communication within the various intelligence agencies was due to anything other than incompetence. In addition, the 'overwhelming evidence' of Stobie's knowledge of Finucane's murder was such that Stevens admits that the file submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (NI) recommended non-prosecution and the trial collapsed of Stobie at Belfast Crown Court in November 2001 "when the key prosecution witness, Neil Mulholland, who had by then signed a witness statement, failed to give evidence on account of his mental state."
Indeed, so successful has been Stevens in acquiring evidence about the murder of Pat Finucane that he admits: "My Enquiry team arrested three of the original suspects for the murder of Patrick Finucane and nine other men were arrested for the first time on suspicion of murder. None of those arrested could be linked forensically to the scene of the Finucane murder. No admissible evidence has been obtained to enable any person to be charged. I believe however that all played a significant role in the murder of Patrick Finucane or the events surrounding it."
Leaving aside whether a police officer who boasts in "the rule of law" such be speculating about the guilt of men without enough evidence he admits to prosecute them ( this action by Stevens sounds very much like what he said was "unjustifiable" by the RUC officers who briefed Douglas Hogg - maybe, Stevens will now be investigated for collusion with terrorists groups!), the evidence produced by Stevens concerning Stobie for collusion is negligible.
Brian Nelson was an Army agent who was charged with thirty-five serious terrorist offences and later convicted and imprisoned for ten years. Stevens when questioned about Nelson admitted "Yeah, I think we didn't get everything, I think he held things back."
In his report, Stevens states that "Nelson was aware and contributed materially to the intended attack on Finucane" yet he admits "It is not clear whether his role in the murder extended beyond passing a photograph, which showed Finucane and another person, to one of the other suspects."
So far, here are the known facts about Brian Nelson:
1) He was a self-confessed and convicted terrorist;
2) He did not tell the truth to Sir John Stevens (as admitted by our intrepid investigator);
3) He was a former army agent who holds a grudge against his handlers;
4) No evidence has been shown by Stevens in his report that he passed on information about Finucane's planned murder to the FRU that was not acted upon.
Conclusion of the evidence of collusion in Stevens Report
It would appear from the published summary that Sir John Stevens’ whole case concerning collusion relies on the evidence of the late William Stobie and Brian Nelson. As both individual are now dead and neither were credible witnesses as self-confessed terrorists, double agents and proven liars, then Sir John's report so far has adduced no real evidence to support the spurious allegations and insinuations against the RUC.
The impotency of Sir John Stevens evidence is delineated in the fact that despite his claims that he had uncovered enough evidence to lead him "to believe that the murders of Patrick Finucane and Brian Adam Lambert could have been prevented" and that "the RUC investigation of Patrick Finucane's murder should have resulted in the early arrest and detection of his killers" no one has actually been convicted of Pat Finucane's murder because he admits there is no evidential proof for prosecution.
The published account of John Steven's report is a catalogue of unprofessionalism and misrepresentations. It appears that he started with a pre-supposition of guilt and has tried to force the facts into this paradigm. Unless Sir John can come up with tangible evidence that Special Branch has colluded with loyalist terrorists (and so far he has not even produced evidence that a single one has!), he should put up or shut up! It is easy for Sir John to sit in his ivory tower in London at Scotland Yard as he does not have to face the terrorist threat left by reckless comments and mis-representations.
However, the most galling aspects of the Stevens Inquiry is the selective nature of the investigation and those arrested under it. Huge amounts of public money have been wasted in this witch hunt that has resulted in so far no convictions for murder. The thousands of victims of the terrorists in Northern Ireland have been ignored in the clamour to investigate the republican cause celebre, Pat Finucane. Even if somehow, the Stevens Inquiry produces real evidence of collusion and soldiers and police officers are charged with murder, surely as John O'Sullivan wrote in the Chicago Sun Times of 22 April 2003 it must be that "if soldiers are to be tried for the handful of murders they committed, as they should, then they must be joined in the dock by Adams, his IRA accomplices, the thugs of the UDA, and the rest of the loyalist paramilitaries for the hecatombs of deaths they engineered and carried out. That is another price of a government of laws applicable to all."
This report does nothing to build confidence about justice and democracy in Northern Ireland and the majority community will only feel alienated and discriminated against yet again.
What Sir John and his Inquiry team ignored
Unionists and human rights activists have been aware of and concerned about the degree of collusion of the Roman Catholic Church and the Irish authorities and the IRA. Despite repeated calls and requests for public inquiries into these allegations they have been ignored in favour of the republican agenda in respect of Finucane et al.
These calls were precipitated by the recent revelations that a priest, Father Brian Chesney was a leading member of the South Londonderry IRA in the 1970's and was responsible for a bomb in Claudy in 1972 that murdered 9 Protestant civilians. The involvement of Chesney came to light at an extra ordinary press conference last year, during which Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid revealed that the late Cardinal Conway and British Government Minister, William Whitelaw, had discussed allegations that a priest had been in the IRA and was one of the Claudy bombers.
The meeting took place in December 1972, five months after the bombing. At the meeting, Conway suggested moving Father Jim Chesney to a parish across the border. This was later done. He was never questioned or arrested or charged by the police.
These claims were substantiated by the former MP for Mid Derry, Ivan Cooper, who is convinced that Father Chesney was involved. As a civil rights activist during the early days of the troubles he had a wide range of contacts including Republicans. He told the BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme (22 Sept 2002): "I have never spoken about this publicly in 30 years. "I am absolutely satisfied that the IRA carried out the bombing and that amongst the people who were involved in that bombing was a priest called Father Jim Chesney who I happen to have known. I have some information from Republican sources principally, which leaves me in absolutely no doubt."
Former IRA Chief of Staff, Sean O'Callaghan confirmed the degree of complicity of the Roman Catholic Church with the IRA when he revealed to the BBC programme that many priests were involved in IRA activity yet none were, to his knowledge, questioned or even arrested. O'Callaghan said "When I was in the provisional IRA in 1974 in Co Tyrone I had a lot of dealings with one particular parish priest in Co Tyrone and the IRA and I used his parochial house, the parochial house, both for meetings, planning operations and indeed leaving from there to take part in operations and coming back to there after operations. "One particular incident I was involved in was in the murder of Det. Insp. Peter Flanagan, in Omagh, and after that murder, we returned to this parochial house. "That particular parish priest was actively in the IRA. He gathered intelligence for the IRA, particularly in the area of Catholic policemen or Catholic members of the security forces."
Why is Sir John not investigating the role of the Irish Government in setting up the IRA through a prominent Belfast Solicitor, the allegations of "Gardai collusion" in the deaths of the two Superintendents Harold Breen and Robert Buchanan returning from a Gardai conference in 1989 and in withholding information to the RUC as detailed by Sean O'Callaghan in "the Informer"?
FAIR has produced a dossier of collusion by the Gardai and has named prominent IRA terrorists that are known to have carried out atrocities. FAIR wants and independent inquiry why the Gardai and the RUC are not actively pursuing these inquiries. Nearly a year has now passed since FAIR submitted a dossier of information to the police and to security minister Jane Kennedy, which has been ignored. This is outrageous and demonstrates the clear double-standards that exist in the issue of justice in Northern Ireland.
HELP US TELL THE TRUTH