There is growing pressure on the British Government to hold an independent inquiry into alleged collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and the security forces.
Catholics in the North are concerned at the apparent stalling by the British government in dealing with a number of high profile killings in the North, particularly the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane. The Stevens Inquiry, which has long been investigating his murder, was due to publish its findings in July.
But the publication has been postponed until the autumn for fear of raising tensions during the marching season. A recent BBC documentary on the Finucane case provided damning evidence of collusion at a senior level. Relatives for Justice, a group of 150 people whose loved ones were killed by loyalist paramilitaries, claims that there is a chain of command which runs between intelligence services on the ground, through levels of military command to the Cabinet table in London.
There are currently two inquiries into the Finucane case — the Stevens Inquiry, and at review being carried out by retired Canadian judge, Peter Cory. He will outline to the British government what its next step should be.
But the inquiries are moving far too slowly for many in the North. Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty says that it is now clear that his killing was devised and sanctioned at the highest levels within the British Government.
“In the coming weeks and months, the British political and military establishment will once again close ranks to obstruct the disclosure of the truth about large-scale institutionalized collusion and their role in it.
“However, the can of worms has well and truly been opened, and they may find it more difficult, if not impossible, to put the cap back on this time.”
The Northern Secretary, Dr. John Reid, however, appears to be in no hurry to hold such an international independent inquiry. “The first thing to do is to establish the facts, that is what Sir John Stevens is trying to do. The second thing to decide is how then to react to those facts, that is what Judge Cory is to do. We do treat the allegations seriously, we want to get at the truth and I understand the anguish of any family which finds itself in that position.
“We will have to find a way of dealing with that truth and that pain and we will have to do it in a way that doesn’t prevent us from building a new future,” he says. ♦