Congressional Hearing On Northern Ireland

Congressman Chris Smith (Robbinsville, NJ) recently met with N.J. President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and AOH National Board Member, Sean Pender of Hamilton, N.J., right, and Northern Ireland widow Geraldine Finucane, whose husband, human rights attorney Patrick Finucane, was murdered in 1989. Mrs. Finucane led a group of witnesses who testified March 21 before a congressional hearing chaired by Smith on human rights and the quest for justice in Northern Ireland. The resolution of her husband’s murder and other unresolved issues were discussed at the hearing.

Widow, Human Rights Activists Call for Northern Ireland Justice

Witnesses: ‘Peace is fragile because British Good Friday Agreement Commitments have not been kept’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Geraldine Finucane, widow of murdered human rights attorney Patrick Finucane, led a group of witnesses who testified Wednesday before a congressional hearing on human rights in Northern Ireland chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the U.S. Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission).

  “In connection with the Good Friday peace agreement, the British government promised to conduct public inquiries into prominent, recommended cases where collusion is suspected,” said Smith, who has authored several bills and resolutions advancing the peace process and human rights in Northern Ireland.

  “Subsequently the British government has backtracked in regard to the 1989 murder of human rights lawyer Patrick Finucane,” Smith said. “This is particularly sad because the British government has taken so many other positive, truly honorable steps, many of which were painful for large sectors of British public and official opinion… The British government has admitted that it did collude in the Finucane murder – yet resolutely blocks any public inquiry into the collusion. The question asks itself – after so many positive steps, is the British government really going to risk throwing it away to protect the identity of people who share responsibility for a murder?” (Click here to read Smith’s opening remarks.)

The case of Pat Finucane shows that promises of the British Government can be easily broken and that their desire to help Northern Ireland is half-hearted at best,” said Finucane of her husband, a human rights lawyer who was murdered in 1989 at the age of 39 in his home with his wife and three children present. “This will impact deeply on Northern Ireland and how everyone moves forward. Collusion affected everyone and indeed continues to do so. Unless the depth of it is exposed no one will lose their suspicions, confidence will remain undermined and no one will be able to settle to a stable future.”
The hearing, entitled “Prerequisites for Progress in Northern Ireland,” was the 13th congressional hearing Smith has chaired on human rights in Northern Ireland. Most of the hearings have addressed issues of police reform and British collusion in human rights violations.

  Christopher Stanley of British-Irish Rights Watch, Mark Thompson, Director of Relatives for Justice, Brian Gormally, Director of Committee for the Administration of Justice, and Dr. Patricia Lundy of University of Ulster, also testified.

  Click on the names of the hearing’s witnesses below to read corresponding testimonies: Geraldine Finucane’s; Christopher Stanley; Mark Thompson; Brian Gormally, and; Dr. Patricia Lundy.