Minister Cowen's statement on Cory Reports
I welcome the publication today by the British Government of the four reports by Judge Cory into the murders of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill and Billy Wright.
I would like to reiterate the Government’s appreciation for Judge Cory’s commitment to the difficult task we set him. He completed his task with expedition and his reports are, despite the redactions, eloquent and lucid. His commitment to the principles that must govern society, his wisdom, professionalism and innate humanity are evident from the content of his reports.
The content of these reports raise very troubling questions about the rule of law in Northern Ireland. The inquiries flowing from these reports are the appropriate way in which to determine what happened and to make recommendations to ensure that these events could not be repeated.
I would also like to welcome the announcement that inquiries will be held into the circumstances of the murder of Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill and Billy Wright. I acknowledge the assurance of the Secretary of State that these inquiries will have the powers required to complete their task in the manner set out by Judge Cory.
However, I am very disappointed with the decision of the British Government to delay action on the Judge’s recommendation that a public inquiry be established quickly into the circumstances of the murder of Pat Finucane.
Judge Cory came to the conclusion that the greater benefit to society would come from public inquiries rather than prosecutions. He said “This may be one of those rare situations where a public inquiry will be of greater benefit to the community than prosecutions.” I agree with that view.
The Finucane family has called for a public inquiry for over 14 years. Like the other three families involved, they want and are entitled to see the timely establishment of inquiries into all of the cases, in full accordance with the commitments made by the two Governments at Weston Park in August 2001. That is the only way to honour the commitments given at Weston Park.
I share the view of the SDLP that a public inquiry is required to uncover the controversial circumstances surrounding not only the murder of Pat Finucane, but all of the circumstances identified by Judge Cory that fall to be considered by a public inquiry.