Pat Finucane murder & the cover up of Britain's dirty war in Ireland


Pat Finucane was murdered in front of his wife and children in Belfast in February 1989. Because a British MP and junior minister Douglas Hogg had suggested in Westminister days earlier that particular solicitors were "unduly sympathetic to the IRA" and because of a longstanding belief by many that there was active collusion between the State and loyalist paramilitaries, questions immediately started to be asked.  The report on Wednesday of the De Silva commission into the murder was the latest attempt by the highest levels of the British state to absolve themselves of any responsibility or guilt into what is often refered to as the 'Dirty War' waged in Ireland during the whole period of the troubles. A similar  effort was made with the report of the Bloody Sunday tribunal, both reports sought to ring fence responsibility to rogue elements or as minor players as possible within the state apparatus.  The reason for this is an attempt to protect the integrity of the state and it's security services.

However because of the courageous campaigning of relatives of victims, their friends and supporters, some notable journalists and because the peace process enabled some within the political class here and in Britain the space to find their courage, we have had some insight into the nature of Britain's war. Even the De Silva sop reveals much. Take this gem,
"49. In 1985 the Security Service assessed that 85% of the UDA's 'intelligence' originated from sources within the security forces. I am satisfied that this proportion would have remained largely unchanged by February 1989, the time of Patrick Finucane's murder. During this period, the UDA were heavily reliant on the flow of security force leaks to enable them to identify republican targets. This meant that many UDA attacks could be traced back to assistance initially provided by one of their security force contacts. Although some limited action was taken by the authorities to combat these leaks, my overall view is that, prior to the commencement of the Stevens I Investigation in September 1989, such efforts were inadequate given the scale of the problem."


De Silva says this but still concludes no overarching conspiracy. We know that 2 of those involved in the murder of Pat Finucane were British state operatives, one Brian Nelson is known to have with the knowledge of the British state imported a large cache of arms from South Africa that fueled the loyalist death squads throughout the late eighties and nineties. The sheer weight of evidence uncovered over the years and particularly since the ceasefires points clearly in one direction. That is that it was British state security policy to aid and/or run loyalist paramilitary death squads and direct them to murder selected individuals, generally terrorise the catholic community through random killings and on occasion as with the Dublin and Monaghan bombings keep the southern state in line.


This of course does not fit with the narrative of the war that we and the British public are expected to accept and if you listen to David Camerons speech you will see clearly that he crafted it in the classic "a few bad apples" way. Again the report "117. In spite of the gravity of my findings, I must also stress that it would be a serious mistake for this Report to be used to promote or reinforce a particular narrative of any of the groups involved in the Troubles in Northern Ireland."


It is ironic now to think of the great play many in the southern political class made of supporting the British state apparatus, urging support for the British army and RUC, the giving of information to same, this aid resulted in the deaths of people how many we cannot know. Of course people in the north knew what was going on and indeed it fed the cycle of violence. The British state carried out a policy of attempting to crush the civil rights movement rather than confront unionism, after Bloody Sunday it appears that they more clearly adopted General Frank Kitson's "counter gangs" strategy sometimes organising, training, arming and feeding information to loyalist paramilitaries. Sometimes they directly controlled them , sometimes just provided intelligence. It is important of course to say that loyalist paramilitaries had a dynamic of their own and would have carried out some sort of campaign in response to the IRA in any case, but when British policy moved from containment to counter insurgency they became a key element of Britain's war plans.


British policy actually prolonged the war, having shirked the need to confront the deeply discriminatory unionist regime at the first oppurtunity they opted to attempted to crush the genuine uprising against oppression in the early 70's introduced internment and set the stage for over 20 years of war. All the demands of the civil rights movement ultimately had to be conceded anyway and to end the war took vast resources and further concessions. Britain is at war in Afghanistan, tactics used in Ireland are applied there, the leopard has not changed it's spots that's why the truth about Britains dirty war in Ireland is so important and that's why they will hinder the truth coming out.


WORDS: James McBarron


The British report 


The key areas of state collusion highlighted in the report are as follows:

• There were extensive ‘leaks of police information to loyalist paramilitary organisations.
• MI5 new of the threats against Finucane’s life but failed to protect him.
• Employees of state organisations played a key role in the murder of Pat Finucane.
• There was a failure to properly investigate the murder, and a failure to arrest and interview key loyalist paramilitaries.
• Senior army Officers deliberately lied during investigations.
• The Royal Ulster Constabulary seriously obstructed the investigation.
• 85% of loyalist paramilitaries ‘intelligence’ originated from the British security forces.


Pat Finucane’s widow, ‘Geraldine’, declined to take part in the review, dismissing it as a ‘whitewash’ and a ‘sham’. She believes that the government have “engineered a suppression of the truth” that covered up her husband’s brutal execution. She went on to say that,:

“At every turn, it is clear that this report has done exactly what was required. To give the benefit of the doubt to the state, its cabinet and ministers, to the army, the intelligence services, to itself. At every turn, dead witnesses have been blamed, and defunct agencies found wanting. Serving personnel and active state departments appear to have been excused. The dirt has been swept under the carpet without any serious attempt to lift the lid on what really happened to Pat and so many others”.


Extracted from ''working class self-organisation's blog on libcom-