Sinn Fein candidate quizzed publicly on Graham murder

John Finucane said he condemned 'all acts of violence'
John Finucane said he condemned 'all acts of violence'

A Sinn Fein general election candidate has again declined the chance to condemn specifically the murder of lawyer and politician Edgar Graham.

Belfast lawyer John Finucane, who is contesting the North Belfast Westminster seat, is the son of lawyer Pat Finucane, who was murdered in front of his family by loyalist paramilitaries at home in 1989.

Last week, Mr Finucane failed to respond to a News Letter query, asking if he was prepared to condemn unequivocally the murder of another lawyer, Edgar Graham.

Mr Graham was a 29-year-old barrister, Queen’s University law lecturer and UUP Assembly member. He was shot in the back of the head by IRA gunmen close to Queen’s University in December 1983.

During a debate on Monday between North Belfast candidates, hosted by Radio Ulster’s Talkback show, Mr Finucane was again asked if he would condemn the murder of Mr Graham – this time by a member of the public.

The republican candidate said: “My view on violence has been dealt with, but let me talk about the way the request from the News Letter was put to me, and I think it was nothing short of vulgar and crass.

“It certainly does the debate no help and it certainly does the family of Edgar Graham no help or justice either.

“The question [see below] was put to me to answer around the circumstances of Edgar Graham and that in in my answer I was prohibited from referring to any other act or any other incident in the Troubles and I think a question framed in that format isn’t worthy of response” (applause from the audience).

When asked in a separate question during the programme if he would give an unqualified condemnation of the terror carried out by the IRA and other terrorist groups in Northern Ireland, he replied: “I condemn all acts of violence.”

Mr Finucane added: “Condemning the past is exceptionally easy. The difficult thing is to grasp the present and truly bring our society forward.”

However, DUP candidate Nigel Dodds said the issue of legacy “goes hand in hand” with looking to the future.

He said: “You should be able to condemn terrorism wherever it happened and also able to build a better future.

“For the victims, it is vitally important they hear people who carried out and who defended such acts saying they are sorry or that they weren’t justified.

“Just as the attacks in Manchester and London today are wrong, so the bombings in Manchester and London 20 years ago by another set of terrorists were wrong.”

The question we put to John Finucane last week: ‘You 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 we asked a Sinn Fein candidate who works in the same university department that Edgar Graham if he condemned 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.’

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