SF candidate is asked about IRA murder of lawyer

Sinn Fein general election candidate for North Belfast. 
Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Sinn Fein general election candidate for North Belfast. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

A Belfast lawyer entering the political arena has declined the opportunity to unequivocally condemn the murder of fellow lawyer and politician Edgar Graham.

John Finucane has been selected as Sinn Fein’s general election candidate to contest the North Belfast Westminster seat.

He is the son of lawyer Pat Finucane, 40, who was murdered in front of his family by loyalist paramilitaries at his home in the city in 1989. There was found to have been collusion in the murder.

Mr Finucane and his family and supporters have long campaigned for a public inquiry into the murder.

When Sinn Fein did not respond to a News Letter request for a wide-ranging interview with the North Belfast candidate, on May 26 we posed a single question asking if Mr Finucane was prepared to condemn unequivocally the murder of Edgar Graham.

At time of going to press we have not received a response, despite further requests.

Edgar Graham was a 29-year-old barrister, Queen’s University law lecturer and Ulster Unionist assembly member. He was shot in the head by IRA gunmen close to Queen’s University in December 1983.

When a current Queen’s lecturer in the law department stood as a Sinn Fein assembly candidate in March, he faced criticism for refusing to specifically condemn the murder of Edgar Graham – instead, he spoke of his “profound sorrow” at all Troubles-related deaths.

At Mr Graham’s inquest, the coroner described him as a “brilliant scholar”.

Quoting the coroner, the book Lost Lives records: “No doubt his skill and advocacy were a great thorn in the flesh of some people who did not agree with his views and who tragically did not feel fit to meet him in a democratic forum. Instead, they chose to terminate his life in this cowardly fashion.”

In an Irish Times interview on May 25, Mr Finucane said: “For the avoidance of any doubt I oppose violence. I don’t think there is anybody who could probably be in a better position to say that.”

He added: “What I am focused on with regards to legacy is the same message as I have delivered when I have been campaigning for truth and justice around the murder of my father. And that is every victim ... is entitled to truth and justice.”

On May 17, Mr Finucane told the Belfast Telegraph he condemned “all acts of violence” when asked specifically if he would condemn the IRA Shankill bomb that killed 10 people in 1993.

We will be happy to run Mr Finucane’s thoughts at a future date.

• Question to John Finucane:

Your have campaigned for years for an inquiry into the heinous murder of your father who was a lawyer.

We at the News Letter have been trying to draw attention to many other murders during the Troubles, including that of another lawyer, Edgar Graham, who was killed for his political views, and whose murder is almost never talked about.

At the last election (see link below) we asked a Sinn Fein candidate who works in the same university department that Edgar Graham did, to condemn that murder. Do you [Mr Finucane] condemn unequivocally the murder of Edgar Graham? We are not asking about all killings, we are asking about this specific killing.’

Trevor Ringland: John Finucane needs to clarify his position on the IRA and in particular its murder of lawyers

Jim Allister: Finucane cannot masquerade as a campaigner for truth and justice while carrying flag for IRA’s political wing

Edgar Graham’s sister asks SF academic: ‘Was it wrong to shoot my brother in the head?’

Police probe online abusive messages to Sinn Fein candidate