THE British government gave the go-ahead yesterday for a judicial inquiry into the controversial 1989 murder of solicitor Pat Finucane.
Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy confirmed that new legislation would be introduced allowing an inquiry into allegations that members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and British army intelligence colluded with loyalists in the killing.
Mr Finucane was gunned down in front of his family by loyalist Ulster Defence Association gunmen at his north Belfast home.
Last week, loyalist police informer Ken Barrett received a life sentence at Belfast Crown Court after admitting his role in the killing.
He was jailed for 22 years, but he is expected to be freed early under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Last year, a report by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens found evidence of security force collusion in the killings of Mr Finucane and student Adam Lambert.
Earlier this year, a report by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory also recommended an inquiry - a key demand of Mr Finucane's family, human rights campaigners and nationalist politicians in Northern Ireland, who insist that it must be held in public.
Mr Murphy said yesterday that the government had repeatedly made clear that it would keep the commitment which it made at the Weston Park peace talks to honour Judge Cory's recommendation.
But, while it recommended inquiries into the murders of solicitor Rosemary Nelson, Portadown Catholic Robert Hamill and loyalist Billy Wright following the publication of three other Cory reports, there were outstanding legal proceedings relating to the Finucane case.
Following the prosecution of Mr Barrett, the government had decided, after consulting the Attorney General, to press ahead with an inquiry even though there was the possibility of further prosecutions as a result of the Stevens investigation.
"As in any inquiry, the tribunal will be tasked with uncovering the full facts of what happened and will be given all of the powers and resources necessary to fulfil that task," Mr Murphy said.
"In order that the inquiry can take place speedily and effectively and in a way that takes into account the public interest, including the requirements of national security, it will be necessary to hold the inquiry on the basis of new legislation which will be introduced shortly," he concluded.
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