DUBLIN - Britain offered a public apology yesterday over its murky role in the 1989 killing of a Belfast lawyer and pledged to publish a report into the extent of its police and army involvement in the attack.
The government appointed a leading human rights lawyer to review a mountain of secret evidence into the slaying of Patrick Finucane. The investigator, Desmond da Silva, is supposed to publish his findings by December 2012.
“The government is deeply sorry for what happened,’’ Owen Paterson, Britain’s secretary of state for Northern Ireland, told lawmakers in London.
Finucane’s family expressed fury that Britain had dismissed their long-held demand for a public, court-style investigation into the killing. Two members of a Protestant paramilitary group, the Ulster Defense Association, shot Finucane 14 times as he was eating a meal with his wife and three children at home.
Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, called Britain’s decision “nothing less than an insult.’’ She said her family’s lawyers should be permitted to peruse confidential British documents and question witnesses from Northern Ireland’s police, British Army intelligence, and Britain’s domestic spy agency MI5.
Also yesterday, a bomb exploded in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, police said in a telephone message. There were no reports of injuries.
The blast occurred at the offices for the UK City of Culture 2013, Northern Ireland police said. No details of any damage from the blast were provided in the statement.