US Congressional hearing on Troubles amnesty may pressure UK government to drop plans, claims Geraldine Finucane
The widow of slain lawyer Pat Finucane said she hoped a US Congressional hearing with Troubles victims’ groups on Tuesday would help “press” for the UK government’s legacy proposals to be dropped.
Eraldine Finucane will join groups such as Relatives for Justice, the Wave Trauma Center and the Committee on the Administration of Justice, which will provide evidence at the Congressional committee hearing.
Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra program before attending the virtual session, Ms Finucane said the US Government will “hold the UK Government to account”.
The British government plans to bar future prosecutions of military veterans and ex-paramilitaries for incidents in The Troubles prior to April 1998.
The proposals sparked major opposition in Northern Ireland.
The government also intends to offer a new truth-telling model to help bereaved families obtain information about the death of their loved ones without the prospect of a criminal court outcome.
“Many years ago when the British government tried to tell America there was nothing to fear in Northern Ireland, my husband at the time went to America for a tour conferences and told the people in power exactly what was going on,” Finucane said.
“When America started to take an interest in it, the British government had to sit up, take heed and do something about it. It still does today.”
Over the weekend, The Times reported that a US House of Representatives resolution calling on the UK government to drop amnesty plans for the Troubles murders is expected to pass.
According to Bill Keating, a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, the bipartisan resolution – which also calls for the prosecution of Army soldiers in connection with Bloody Sunday in 1972 – could pass “in the coming weeks”.
Ms Finucane added: ‘It’s a really good way to put pressure on the UK government to do the right thing and not hide behind delays and now this appalling new law, which will not only prevent my family to find out the truth, but all the other families looking for the truth.
“It is extremely important that there is a proper review of past issues. It allows people to resolve the trauma they have had in their lives.
“It is beneficial for society as a whole. You can’t cover a wound, otherwise it will just fester and burst.
“We have seen that today, because the inheritance has not been settled and settled properly, there is unrest here and people are unhappy.”
Ms Finucane’s husband Pat represented Republican and loyalist paramilitaries during the Troubles and was shot dead at his family home in north Belfast in February 1989 by the Ulster Defense Association (UDA) in an attack which allegedly involved collusion with the state.