Finucane Murder Was Greatest ‘Stain’ on Justice, Says Neal in US
THERE WAS “no greater stain” on the policing and justice system in Northern Ireland than the assassination of Belfast lawyer Patrick Finucane, a prominent Irish-American congressman has said.
Chairman of the Congressional Friends of Ireland, Democrat Richard Neal of Massachusetts was speaking at the unveiling of a Robert Ballagh painting of Mr Finucane, commissioned by Belfast Media Group and Belfast art collector Paul Cooper.
A 39-year-old father of three, Mr Finucane was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his family at their North Belfast home on February 12th, 1989 and his wife, Geraldine, was wounded. The circumstances of the attack immediately gave rise to allegations of involvement by state security services.
The British government has offered to hold an inquiry into the case, but this was rejected by campaigners on the basis that it would take place under new legislation whereby the public could be excluded from part of the hearings and material withheld from the final published report.
“There is no greater stain on the policing and justice system in the north of Ireland than the Finucane assassination and I think the continued presence of American interest is pivotal,” Congressman Neal said at the ceremony, which took place last Thursday.
Artist Robert Ballagh said: “Being asked to do this portrait was a huge honour for me.” Pat Finucane had “displayed enormous courage in defending the human rights of people who got caught up in the conflict in the North”. Máirtín Ó Muilleoir of the Belfast Media Group said the painting would be displayed in a number of state houses throughout the US.