- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

Irish sisters for justice

Washington was captivated this week by the visit of the sisters of a Northern Irish man slain outside a Belfast bar, as a congressional subcommittee tried to highlight another killing in Belfast and demand that the British government open an inquiry into his death.

The sisters of Robert McCartney yesterday met President Bush, who saluted their bravery for standing up to the Irish Republican Army and the killers who butchered their brother in January.

Meanwhile, Rep. Christopher H. Smith has been focusing on the 13-year-old slaying of Patrick Finucane, a defense attorney who represented IRA suspects, including one defendant acquitted of plotting the deaths of two police officers.

An independent inquiry headed by retired Canadian Supreme Court Judge Peter Cory last year cited “strong evidence” that the Northern Irish police and British army intelligence knew that Mr. Finucane was targeted for assassination in 1989 by the Ulster Defense Association, an outlawed Protestant paramilitary group. He recommended a public inquiry by the British government.

Mr. Smith, New Jersey Republican, took advantage of the week of St. Patrick’s Day to hold a congressional hearing on the case he has monitored for 10 years.

“The case has widespread implications for the rule of law in Northern Ireland, as Mr. Finucane was targeted simply because of the politics of his clients,” said Mr. Smith, chairman of the House International Relations subcommittee on Africa, global human rights and international operations.

He called on the British government to honor a commitment made in 2001 to hold a public inquiry if Mr. Cory recommended one.

“After a year and a half of delays, exceptions and excuses, it is time for the British government to comply,” Mr. Smith said. “If the citizens cannot count on the institutions of government to deliver on their commitment to secure equal justice for all, confidence will erode and hope for a just and lasting peace could slip away.”

He noted that Mr. Bush recently signed a resolution he sponsored calling for a British government investigation.

Beef with Japan

Japan must lift its 15-month-old ban on U.S. beef or risk damaging bilateral trade, the newly nominated ambassador to Japan told the Senate this week.

“As a number of you have already pointed out to me, the current controversy must be resolved as soon as possible so that U.S. beef exports can be resumed to Japan,” Thomas Schieffer said during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“We must ensure that science and not politics makes the final decision. On the economic front, we must continue to manage our relationship in such a way that occasional problems do not cause wider damage to our overall relationship.”

Japan banned U.S. beef imports in December 2003, after the United States found a case of mad cow disease.

Mr. Schieffer, currently ambassador to Australia, cited U.S.-Japanese military cooperation as “the cornerstone of our mutual security in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Egypt ‘valued’

The U.S. ambassador to Egypt said goodbye to President Hosni Mubarak this week and praised his decision to allow multiparty candidates in the presidential election in September.

“Egypt has been a strong and valued partner to the United States in working to solve the region’s most pressing problems,” said Ambassador David Welch, who has been named to serve as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

“I greatly appreciate the Egyptian government’s commitment to fighting terrorism, an evil that Egyptians and Americans know all too well.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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