Time for America and Ireland to bypass British obstruction

IRISH-AMERICA welcomes the interest and support of Taoiseach Enda Kenny in seeking justice in the case of Pat Finucane. The disingenuous and disrespectful actions by the British Government towards the Finucane family are well-known by those in the United States that strive for a lasting and just peace for the people of Ireland. Thanks to the efforts of concerned Irish-Americans and other American citizens who for decades have worked for justice in the North, Enda Kenny will find receptive members in both houses of the United States Congress. Senators and Congressmen, for years educated and then influenced by concerned constituents, have expressed their support for justice for the Finucanes.

Our efforts are evident in the recent response to the October meeting where British Prime Minister David Cameron insulted the Finucanes. The bipartisan Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs described Cameron’s decision as “absolutely impossible to comprehend”. Committee cochairs Congressmen Christopher Smith, Eliot Engel, Joseph Crowley and Richard Neal said:

“We cannot but feel a deep sense of outrage over the decision of the British Government not to launch a full, independent, and public judicial inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane.“

The decision is inexplicable. It represents a gross injustice, a reversal of a solemnly undertaken governmental commitment, and calls out for added scrutiny by those in the Congress and elsewhere who have long supported the Good Friday Agreement. We strongly urge the UK Government to reconsider its decision immediately and do the right thing in the Finucane case, for the family, for Northern Ireland and for UK democracy as a whole.”

Despite this and other examples of strong bipartisan support and resolve, US efforts for justice have been thwarted by the continued inability of the British Government to look itself in the mirror and admit to the world their true role in the North during ‘The Troubles’. The British Government knows that the truth in the Finucane case will show the world their true role in the Troubles and they will fight the revelation of that truth tooth and nail.

With every successful hearing or resolution in the US, the British Government has thrown up roadblocks; they have gone from denying the truth to delaying it. What the world has seen by the British actions is its absolute inability to confront the human and civil rights abuses they committed against citizens in its own jurisdiction. Britain has had 40 years to address these issues and has failed horribly. This recent treatment by Prime Minister Cameron of the Finucane family and his government’s lack of any action to reverse their decision shows that we are wasting our time waiting for the British to admit their sins. This level of frustration is evident to all of us in the US that are concerned with a lasting peace in the North. The time for diplomatic requests, even those strongly worded, requesting Britain to do the right thing has passed. It is time to set aside the special relationships between governments that impede justice for some and replace it with committed honest actions that promote justice for all.

It is my hope that with the Taoiseach’s and the Irish Government’s committed involvement the US and Irish governments take a frank, honest look at the British Government’s continuous evasive actions when it comes to not only the Finucane case but to truth recovery in the North. There is no doubt that the US and Ireland understand that a new strategy which will not require British control or approval is needed. An independent international truth commission backed by the US and Irish governments would finally address not only the Finucane case but all open cases. It is time for new strategy, not only in seeking justice for the Finucanes but for all people who still seek the truth for the loss of their loved ones.

I first met Geraldine Finucane several years ago in a meeting with Congressmen Chris Smith of New Jersey and Richie Neal of Massachusetts. Determined, respectful and eloquent, she stated that she and her family have fought so hard for the truth in Pat’s case since they know that so many others who have been affected by collusion would never get justice. It is hard to believe that so many years later she and so many are still waiting for the truth. It is time we all do more.