It's not too late for a judicial inquiry

Nearly seven years after the murder of Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane, the case remains unsolved. Finucane, a highly respected lawyer whose firm was well-known for defending IRA suspects detained under emergency legislation, was in the process of challenging the UK's derogation for the European Convention on Human Rights when he was killed. His death came three weeks after comments by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office Douglas Hogg that there were "in Northern Ireland a number of solicitors who are unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA".

The human rights working party of the Law Society of England and Wales is the latest group to question the events leading to Finucane's death. In a report on human rights in NI, it has called for a judicial inquiry with subpoena powers. The report says "nobody has been prosecuted for the murder" and "credible allegations that the security forces colluded in the murder persist".

It notes that the RUC categorically stated that Finucane was not a member of the IRA and that two British army officers have admitted army participation in a UDA murder plot that involved Finucane. It accuses the British Government of failing to carry out its duty under the UN Basic Principle on Lawyers which places responsibility on governments to guarantee their security.

The Finucane murder has horrifying implications for a country which has prided itself on dispensing the best justice in the world. The Government's lack of inclination to investigate is even more worrying. If such a scenario occurred in some distant location, we could expect an outburst. When it occurs in Northern Ireland, the same standards do not seem to apply.

The Northern Ireland Law Society's silence is only to be expected. However, the authors of this report are to be commended for tackling the issue even if it is seven years after the event.