The Appeal Court ruled yesterday the government was justified in denying a Pat Finucane inquiry.
The case might yet go to the Supreme Court – if so it would be welcome to have clarity at that level.
The hopes of the family that they would get such an inquiry were raised by the Labour government in 2004 after the Judge Cory recommendations, and then later dashed. This is distressing for them, and a highly regrettable sequence. But the problem was not David Cameron’s decision against a full inquiry, but rather the previous government’s extremely foolish offer of one.
The murder was a heinous crime, but it has now had vastly more scrutiny than almost all the 3,700 killings of the Troubles, which were overwhelmingly terrorist murders. Mr Cameron ordered Sir Desmond de Silva to carry out a major review of the case. Sir Desmond found that state agents were involved, that the murder should have been prevented but no over-arching conspiracy.
Mr Finucane’s murder was unspeakable, but it would be an outrage if it got a specific inquiry.
It is highly unfortunate that Dublin has been pushing for such an inquiry.
In fact, balance is urgently needed in legacy investigations to find out who ordered other unspeakable murders that have had no scrutiny, such as that of the lawyer Edgar Graham.
With elderly soldiers facing trial for snap decisions made 40+ years ago, there must be a process that targets leaders who orchestrated terror.
As Kingsmills has shown, it is hard to get convictions to the criminal standard long after the event. Indeed it is hard to even get to the stage of charges.
It is easier to find against a civilised state that has records, however.
The Stormont House Agreement structures will not bring balance to legacy unless the Historical Investigations Unit is far better funded than legacy inquests (that focus on state killings) – after all, HIU will be looking at more than 10 times as many killings.
We must also find methods of investigation to identify key terrorists to a civil law standard, which is why this newspaper backs a private bid to find the 1971 IRA murderers of three soldiers, a calculated deed that turned the course of the Troubles.