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Good Friday Agreement

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 27 May 2021

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Questions (183)

Patricia Ryan


183. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his plans to ensure the implementation of the Weston Park agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29061/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The full implementation and effective operation of the Good Friday Agreement and all subsequent Agreements is an utmost priority for this Government.

The various measures included in the package agreed at Weston Park in August 2001 addressed four issues to assist in the successful implementation of the Good Friday Agreement: policing, normalisation, the stability of the institutions and decommissioning.

As part of the Weston Park agreement both Governments also accepted that certain legacy cases remained a source of grave public concern, particularly those giving rise to serious allegations of collusion by the security forces in each of our jurisdictions, namely the murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan, Pat Finucane, Lord Justice and Lady Gibson, Robert Hamill, Rosemary Nelson and Billy Wright.

Former Canadian Supreme Court Judge, Justice Peter Cory, was appointed in May 2002 to conduct an investigation of allegations of collusion by the security forces in those six cases.

In all those cases where Justice Cory subsequently recommended the establishment of public inquiries, they have been held, with the exception of the case of Pat Finucane.

In October 2011, the British Government announced that Desmond de Silva QC would conduct a legal review of the murder of Pat Finucane. The review was proposed as an alternative to the independent public inquiry which had been recommended by Judge Cory.

The report of the de Silva review was published in December 2012. In the report de Silva set out his findings of collusion in the murder by a number of State agents but he did not find any collusion at a political level. Speaking in Westminster on the day of the launch, PM Cameron described the findings as ‘shocking’ and apologised to the Finucane family. The Taoiseach and Tánaiste reiterated the Irish Government position on the need for an independent public inquiry into the murder in accordance with the Weston Park Agreement.

In February 2019, the UK Supreme Court found that Pat Finucane’s widow Geraldine had a legitimate expectation that a public inquiry into her husband’s murder would be held, and that there has not been an Article 2-compliant inquiry into the case.

As part of its commitment to the Weston Park Agreement, the Government has consistently supported the establishment of a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, as provided for under the Agreement reached by the UK and Irish Governments in 2001.

I have conveyed to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland the Government’s disappointment with his decision not to hold a public inquiry into the Finucane case at that time, and underlined our consistent position that a public inquiry remains the way forward.

The Government will continue to engage with the Finucane family, with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and with the UK Government to work towards a satisfactory resolution of this matter. So too will we continue to work in support of the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and all subsequent agreements to realise the full promise of peace and deeper societal reconciliation.