I have taken a few days to mull over the statement made by David Cameron last week, expressing shock, admission and apology over the assassination of Patrick Finucane in 1989. As with his Bloody Sunday and Hillsborough statements you would have to be super-cynical not to admire the PM for the forthright way in which he faced up to the enormities of official ignorance and cover-up under previous governments.
I was disheartened by the very negative reaction of the Finucane family to the report of Sir Desmond de Silva. Obviously, anyone in their position would wish that there had been a full judicial inquiry years ago. So there should have been, and those that were directly or indirectly involved in the murder should have been brought to trial. However, to tear up the present report, and start all over again now, would surely undermine the very strength of its trenchant conclusions and of Cameron’s condemnation of this crime. Would a new inquiry so long after the event really reveal anything more?
I was glad that my Liberal Democrat colleague Lord (John) Alderdice and the Leader of the Lords would have no truck with the dangerous delusion that the best way to defend democracy was to tear up the law of the land. There was almost universal cross party support for their position, in the Lords as well as the Commons, condemning the scandalous involvement of representatives of the state in murder. However, one Unionist Peer seemed to condone the complete betrayal of the rule of law it represented. You can read the exchanges here. No wonder there are still hotheads in Northern Ireland who are prepared to try to sabotage democratic decision-making by violent means.
Throughout these highly-charged exchanges two Peers – outrageously – slept on the red benches, snoring noisily: perhaps they were trying to make a point – jaw-jaw is better than war-war, and snore-snore is better than both?