Finucane family in positive talks

The family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane last night (Thursday) described talks with United States special envoy Mitchell Reiss as "constructive". Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine is understood to have made Mr Reiss aware of the family's concerns that a British government inquiry into her husband's murder does not comply with the recommendations of retired Canadian Judge Peter Cory, right.

In April Mr Cory said that a public inquiry into the murder of Mr Finucane, right, should be independent and have full legal powers to compel the production of witnesses and government documents.

However in November the Finucane family said they could not take part in the inquiry because the government was insisting on the right to withhold vital evidence.

The solicitor's family raised concerns that, under government proposals, Northern Ireland Office ministers would have the power to decide whether inquiry hearings should be in private and what material is withheld. The NIO denied that evidence would be withheld from the inquiry but said that because of national security, a large proportion of evidence would be heard in private. Speaking after yesterday's meeting, Mr Finucane's son John said the family had been satisfied with the discussions with Mr Reiss.

"We felt it was important that Mitchell Reiss heard our concerns about this proposed inquiry in person," he said.

"We told him that we are willing to cooperate with a proper, independent inquiry.

"We have waited 16 years for such an inquiry."