The Law Society has expressed “deep concern” about the British Government’s recent decision not to hold an immediate public inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989.
In a letter to the British Ambassador Mr Paul Johnston, the Law Society’s President James Cahill says that the Law Society’s Council, at its meeting on 11 December, “re-affirmed its now decades-old policy of demanding that the British Government immediately establish an independent public inquiry into the likelihood of State collusion in the heinous murder of Pat Finucane”.
The letter calls on the ambassador to convey the Society’s condemnation to the British Government, and to ask it to reconsider its position.
“Pat Finucane, in his representation of his clients, defended the rule of law and ensured access to justice, despite the threat this posed to his own safety, a threat that proved fatal when he was brutally shot on 12 February 1989 in front of his wife and children,” Mr Cahill writes.
“His killing sent a message to other lawyers practising in the North that they, too, could be targeted for defending their clients if this challenged certain sectarian interests, and that such lawyers would not be protected,” he adds.
Standing in solidarity with endangered lawyers
Mr Cahill says that the Rule of Law stands as a cornerstone in a properly functioning democracy, but it requires constant vigilance.
“For this reason,” he adds, “the Law Society of Ireland frequently stands in solidarity with endangered lawyers all over the world where they are threatened for their defence of human rights by their opponents, and State authorities collude in such oppression or fail to act to prevent it.
“Accordingly, I am writing to express the solidarity of the Law Society with the family of Pat Finucane in seeking an effective public inquiry into his death, one that is capable of establishing the facts behind his murder and, in particular, the full extent of State collusion in same,” he writes.