Finucane killing: Dodds lists eight terror attacks linked to other legal figures that get little attention

Tonight the House of Lords debated the issue of a Pat Finucane inquiry (it having already been debated in the Commons on Monday), with an effort made to remind peers of other lesser-known legal victims of terror.

By Adam Kula
Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 10:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 10:44 pm
The scene of the Hanna killings, 1988
The scene of the Hanna killings, 1988

It comes after the government on Monday turned down calls for a full, public inquiry into the Finucane shooting of 1989.

There have been many mentions in recent days of the attention devoted to the single murder of Mr Finucane, in contrast to many other cases which have not been subject to reviews (the Finucane killing has been reviewed three times by senior justice figures) or seen anyone convicted (UDA man Ken Barrett was jailed for Finucane’s murder in 2004).

Tonight Lord Dodds (the former DUP MP for North Belfast) read out the details of eight different attacks upon people, likewise connected with the legal system.

“There have been other, all too often forgotten, judges, lawyers and family members murdered by the IRA, whose brutal murders Sinn Féin — which is very prominent in this case — and its fellow travellers refused to condemn,” he said.

“Sadly, these dear people do not receive the same attention, concern, calls for inquiry or media coverage,” Lord Dodds said.

The attacks in question were:

> Resident magistrate William Staunton, murdered in 1972;

> Judge Rory Conaghan, murdered in 1974;

> Resident magistrate Martin McBurney, murdered in 1974;

> Judge William Doyle, murdered in 1983;

> Edgar Graham, law lecturer and Assemblyman, murdered in December 1983;

> Mary Travers, murdered in an attack on her magistrate father, Tom Travers, as he left Mass in 1984;

> Lord Justice of Appeal Maurice Gibson and his wife Cecily, murdered in 1987;

> Robin and Maureen Hanna and their six-year-old son David, murdered in an attempt to kill High Court Justice Higgins in July 1988.

The last attack saw the trio killed by a landmine which was intended to destroy Catholic judge Eoin Higgins.

Lord McCrea in turn told the chamber: “Is the Finucane case the only one in which the claim of collusion has been made?

“If not, what makes it different to others?

“Is it that it is regarded as high profile because of its political backing from pro-republican sources across Europe and America?

“Does this mean that the well-connected republican elite have a right to a different kind of justice to others? Is this what justice has really come to?”

A similar point was made by Lord Empey, who said: “There appears to be a different stream for people with big political connections, in the United States in particular, and the rest—the majority—of the victims, who are left to stew in their juice.”

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