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Capitol Hill unveiling for portrait of Pat Finucane

Congressman Richard Neal, chairman of the Friends of Ireland In Congress, will take the wraps off the striking painting by acclaimed Irish artist, Robert Ballagh.

The portrait, which hasn't before been seen in public, is reproduced on the opposite page.

Pat Finucane was gunned down in February 1989 by loyalist paramilitaries working in consort with state forces. Despite repeated calls by the Irish government and international human rights organizations, the British government has consistently faced down calls for an international inquiry into the shooting.

Geraldine Finucane, widow of Pat, will attend the Capitol Hill reception on 18 March to unveil the portrait.

"I'm delighted to be involved," she told the Irish Echo.

"I'm impressed by the portrait not only for its beauty but also because it successfully conveys a serious message.

I have been going to Capitol Hill for many years now in my battle to find out the truth about the British government's role in Pat's murder and have always been met with a warm welcome and sympathetic ear. It's great to see that support underlined at this event which manages to find beauty from a very troubled time."

Artist Robert Ballagh, designer of the Riverdance set and highly-regarded globally for his work, says the portrait shows a youthful Pat Finucane against a canvass which has been "shattered."

"I wanted to capture the importance of this man as a human rights lawyer while also conveying, without sensationalism, the violent nature of his death," he said.

"For me and many people, Pat Finucane is a hero and with this portrait, we are helping to ensure that he won't be forgotten."

The painting, which has been commissioned by the Belfast Media Group and Belfast art collector Paul Cooper, will be put on view in New York later this month.

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