(Washington) – The United States Helsinki Commission will hold a hearing to examine the impact in Norhtern Ireland of recently published reports on collusion in prominent murder cases.
Northern Ireland Update:
Implementation of the Cory Reports and
Impact on Good Friday Agreement
Wednesday, May 5, 2004
11:30 AM to 2:00 PM
334 Cannon House Office Building
Peter Cory, former Canadian Supreme Court Justice, author of independent investigative reports requested by the Irish and British Governments as part of the Weston Park agreement
Geraldine Finucane, wife of slain human rights attorney Patrick Finucane
In April 2002, Peter Cory, a distinguished former justice of the Canadian Supreme Court, was appointed to investigate the question of whether there was collusion in six high-profile murders. Cory’s appointment was a critical element of the Weston Park Agreement in which the British and Irish governments recognized jointly that “certain cases from the past remain a source of grave public concern, particularly those giving rise to serious allegations of collusion by security forces in each of our jurisdictions.”
Four of the murders took place in Northern Ireland -- those of Belfast lawyer Patrick Finucane who was shot in his home in 1989; construction worker Robert Hamill who was kicked to death in 1997 in Portadown; dissident loyalist leader Billy Wright who murdered in Maze prison in 1997; and Lurgan lawyer Rosemary Nelson who was blown up in a car bomb in 1999. The other two murders happened in the Republic of Ireland -- those of Lord Justice Gibson and his wife when their car was blown up in 1987; and of Royal Ulster Constabulary officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan who were ambushed and shot in 1989.
Former Justice Cory delivered his reports to the governments of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom on October 7, 2003. On December 18, the Irish Government published the two reports it received. The UK Government delayed publication until April 1, 2004, following public pleas and legal action by some of the victims’ families.
The hearing will review Cory’s findings and recommendations, including the launching of public inquiries in all but the Gibson case, and the action the two governments have taken or need to take in response to his recommendations.
The United States Helsinki Commission, an independent federal agency, by law monitors and encourages progress in implementing provisions of the Helsinki Accords. The Commission, created in 1976, is composed of nine Senators, nine Representatives and one official each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.