Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Peter Robinson's climb down over on the runs is the biggest ever performed by the DUP

DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson at Hillsborough Castle
DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson at Hillsborough Castle

Last week Peter Robinson made a series of very specific demands on the get out of jail free cards which appear to have been handed out by Gerry Kelly, perhaps even while Kelly served as a Junior Minister for responsibility for victims’ issues.

Mr Robinson told us that he would resign unless there was "a full judicial inquiry into all of these matters so that we can see who knew, when they knew and what they knew".

"Those are vital questions to be asked and answered. I want to know who the 187 people are that received these letters … I want to know who they are, what crimes they were believed to have committed."

He also stated: "I want all of the letters rescinded."

When the Prime Minister announced a judge led review of the operation of the scheme to determine whether any other letters were sent in error, therefore, anyone who actually believed the co-First Minister is doubtless surprised that we aren’t facing the prospect of an Assembly election.

What David Cameron announced isn’t an inquiry. It’s an administrative investigation. No witnesses will be compelled to give evidence under oath.

No one with interests in the scheme, like victims, will have an opportunity to be represented when evidence is given. Indeed no evidence at all will be given in public.

There is certainly no suggestion of the letters being rescinded.

Peter Robinson isn’t claiming to have a list of the names and the crimes they are believed to have committed. What’s more the review will not result in the names being released because, as Jim Allister has pointed out, the Data Protection Act will prevent that – something which would not happen had an inquiry under the 2005 Inquires Act been set up.

Mr Robinson’s climb down was, without question, the biggest ever performed by the DUP.

He made three specific demands. None of those three demands were met.

Victims who were shamefully betrayed by the issuing of the letters now face the prospect of a whitewash of the issue - which the DUP have shamefully accepted.

 

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