The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
No Respite
Is it possible that Pat Finucane was chosen to be murdered on foot of information supplied by Sean O'Callaghan? If the answer is yes, then it would explain the self-serving nature of O'Callaghan's claim that Pat Finucane was an active member of the IRA, and his contradiction of Sir John Stevens's conclusion that Pat Finucane was NOT an IRA man, when the solicitor was murdered - Sam Smyth, Irish Independent

Anthony McIntyre • April 29, 2003

It seems that even in death there is to be no respite for Pat Finucane. Those seeking to lay his memory to rest unblemished by innuendo are facing obstruction, for the most part crudely put rather than subtly made. Fortunately, those determined to undermine the collusion case against the British state by inferring Pat Finucane was ‘not the blameless, innocent "human rights" lawyer beloved of nationalist Ireland and the quasi-liberal chattering classes in the United Kingdom’ suffer a severe credibility deficiency. When asked in the Dublin High Court in May 1998 ‘can you think of a single person in the last ten years to whom you did not tell lies?’ Sean O’Callaghan simply responded ‘no.’

This, however, has not deterred him from making a limp-wristed effort to protect the British state through an article in the Daily Telegraph in which he alleged Pat Finucane was ‘first and foremost an IRA volunteer, and he exploited his position ruthlessly to wage his war on the state.’ Consequently, the outrage generated by his death is nothing other than ‘a finely honed weapon to wage war by other means against the British state and the Unionist people of Northern Ireland.’

I do not know if Pat Finucane was a member of the IRA. Just as I no more know if John Hume was a member. What I can state for certain is that if either ever held volunteer status within the organisation I never heard of it. And in a body where its security on these matters is more mythical than real it is difficult to imagine that such knowledge could have been permanently banned from the republican grapevine.

It is insufficient for the IRA to deny the membership of one of its volunteers for the issue to be left at that within republican ranks. On a number of occasions IRA volunteers were killed by loyalist death squads - in one there was direct evidence of state collusion - and the leadership allowed the dead to pass as innocent Catholic victims of loyalist sectarian killings. But, in all the cases that I am aware of, the information while not always entering the public discourse was very much a feature of the republican grapevine.

I knew Pat Finucane. He represented me in 1983 when I faced a charge resulting from the testimony of a former IRA volunteer who underwent a religious conversion while living in Amsterdam and subsequently decided to give evidence against those he claimed were his former comrades. I had served time on the blanket wings with one of Pat Finucane’s brothers and had heard Pat mentioned frequently before I met him. All references were to his football interests, legal work and his family. At no time was any association with the IRA remotely hinted at. And in those wings there was no shortage of IRA secrets revealed.

When I first met him in the holding cells of Crumlin Road Prison we had more than enough time to talk in confidence. I was already serving life so he was aware of my status as an IRA volunteer. Never once did he display anything other than a totally professional and somewhat detached attitude. What small talk there was, it in no way related to the IRA. In fact I treated Pat like all solicitors, despite being a comrade of his brother, and viewed him with the typical inbred IRA caution shown to all not belonging to the organisation.

O'Callaghan claims to have met the solicitor in the latter’s capacity as an IRA volunteer. It would be amazing in the IRA if such membership could occur and be effectively concealed. Why was it never suggested against him in a super grass case, nor the subject of loose talk within the jail from all of those on whose behalf he acted, according to O’Callaghan, as a ‘trusted conduit between the IRA prisoners and the leadership on the outside.’? Why did O' Callaghan not mention it in his book The Informer? If every other high profile figure in the IRA was mentioned how did a celebrity case like Pat Finucane manage to escape? And if Finucane was a member of the IRA presumably O' Callaghan told his handlers. Why then did the handlers’ version not filter through to John Stevens?

The latter found that Pat Finucane was not a member of the IRA despite the initial allegation emanating from Jack Hermon when he sought to influence Douglas Hogg against human rights figures within the Northern legal profession. As the Stalker case demonstrates, senior English police figures are aware that being influenced by Hermon is hardly the most propitious of ways to reach frank conclusions pertaining to malevolent RUC practice.

The only conclusion that it seems plausible to arrive at is that O Callaghan’s intervention is a matter of timing. In the words of Sam Smyth in the Irish Independent (hardly the launch pad for an assault on the British state and unionists) ‘by posthumously branding the late Pat Finucane a member of the IRA last week, he tried to mitigate the role played by his paymasters and protectors in the murder of the Belfast solicitor.’

Maligned in life as a means to disparage his commitment to human rights, the name of Pat Finucane continues to be sullied 14 years after his death as part of the attempt to curb those same human rights. The incredulity meeting such posthumous allegations suggests that throwing Sean O’Callaghan in was hardly a case of keeping the best wine to the last.


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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

1 May 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Northern Ireland's War of Words
Brendan O'Neill


No Respite

Anthony McIntyre


Foreign Investors
Liam O Ruairc


Crowd Control American Style
Caoimhe Butterly


On Cuba
Douglas Hamilton


Hearts and Flowers

Annie Higgins


27 April 2003


The Needle has Entered
Anthony McIntyre


Congress Must Investigate How Brian Nelson Lived in US

Fr. Sean Mc Manus


The Capitalist Veto
Liam O Ruairc


Easter Rising Statement
Oglaigh na hEireann


Letter to the Irish News
Tommy Gorman


Profiles in Hypocrisy
Maitiu Caomhánach


Do You Regret Being American?

Annie Higgins


Propaganda Stinkers

Paul de Rooij




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