Lawyers on Loyalist Hit List

By Brendan Anderson, Contributor
October / November 2002

Loyalist killers planned to assassinate not only human rights lawyer Pat Finucane but also two of his Belfast colleagues, a senior British police officer has discovered.

Belfast lawyers Oliver Kelly and p.J. McGrory were on a Loyalist hit list compiled with the help of RUC Special Branch officers and British military intelligence agents.

The Finucane murder is currently the subject of an investigation by leading British policeman Sir John Stevens. It is believed Stevens’ draft report will confirm that Kelly and McGrory were also marked down for death. Details of the mens’ movements were noted by British Army double agent Brian Nelson who also acted as an intelligence officer for the Ulster Defense Association. Members of the British Army’s sinister Force Research Unit and the Special Branch knew through Nelson of the plans to kill McGrory and Kelly but did not issue a warning to the men.

Stevens’ draft also reveals that the men were listed in British Army intelligence files as “sympathetic to the IRA.”

McGrory, who acted for the families of three IRA members killed by British undercover soldiers in Gibraltar in 1988, died of a heart attack in 1994.

The news that the two lawyers were to be killed was common knowledge in Belfast after the Finucane killing, but this is the first time the threat to their lives has been publicly acknowledged.

Stevens is due to pass his draft report to Justice Peter de Carteret Cory, who was appointed recently to investigate six murders which are claimed to have been carried out as the result of collusion between the killers and security forces on both sides of the border.

Cory, a 76–year–old Canadian judge, arrives in the North this week. He is expected to take two years to complete his investigations. Pat Finucane’s brother Martin said the allegations were “too shocking to ignore.”

“Members of the security forces were involved in an attempt to murder three prominent lawyers. This is startling and should embarrass the British government into launching a full public inquiry,” he said.

All three lawyers handled cases across the community but were incorrectly perceived by Loyalists and some members of the security forces as working solely for Republicans. ♦

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