- Associated Press - Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mrs. Finucane noted that Mr. de Silva broadly exonerated government ministers with oversight of Northern Ireland security in the 1980s and the only anti-terrorist agency still in existence in Northern Ireland, the domestic spy agency MI5.

Most blame fell instead on the police’s disbanded Special Branch unit, which had two UDA members involved in the killing on its informer payroll: William Stobie, who supplied the guns, and Ken Barrett, who in 2004 pleaded guilty to being one of the gunmen.

And Mr. de Silva found that the army’s disbanded Force Research Unit had the inside story on most, if not all, of the UDA’s planned murder targets because it had positioned an employee, Brian Nelson, as the UDA’s director of intelligence responsible for researching targets.

He said at least 85 percent of the UDA’s information on targeting IRA members and supporters came from army sources.

He said officials in both state intelligence-gathering units did nothing to stop a series of UDA killings.

Extensively investigated

Stobie was killed in 2001 by UDA colleagues after he testified to a previous investigation into the Finucane case. Nelson died of cancer in 2003.

Barrett, the only person convicted for the Finucane murder, received a 22-year prison sentence but was paroled after just two years under terms of Northern Ireland’s peace accord.

“At every turn, it is clear that this report has done exactly what was required: To give the benefit of the doubt to the state, its Cabinet and ministers, to the army, to the intelligence services, to itself,” Mrs. Finucane told a news conference, flanked by her sons Michael and John, who both witnessed their father’s killing and are human rights lawyers today.

“At every turn, dead witnesses have been blamed and defunct agencies found wanting. Serving personnel and active state departments appear to have been excused,” she said.

Catholic leaders likewise said they found it hard to believe that no government minister in the late 1980s knew what was going on.

They pointed to an infamous statement made by former government minister Douglas Hogg, in the Commons one month before Finucane’s killing, that some lawyers in Northern Ireland were “unduly sympathetic to the IRA.”

Mr. de Silva said he found no evidence from government and police files that Hogg or other government ministers had any forewarning of the attack on Finucane, and cited instead evidence that ministers sought to have Nelson prosecuted for murder.

“The prime minister must know that if we are to get to the bottom of this, we have to get to the top of it. And Desmond de Silva is trying to tell us: ‘No, there was no top,’” Mark Durkan, a lawmaker who represents moderate Catholic opinion in Northern Ireland, told Mr. Cameron during the House of Commons debate on the report.

The Finucane case is one of the most heavily investigated killings of the Northern Ireland conflict, which has claimed some 3,700 lives since 1969.

Story Continues →