Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

On-the-run deal 'cover-up' fury

IRA victims' relatives want answers on immunity letters

John Downey at the Old Bailey
John Downey at the Old Bailey

Relatives of victims of IRA violence whose pain has been compounded by the on-the-run issue have spoken of the constant mystery surrounding whether those who killed their loved-ones have been issued letters.

The storm over the OTRs follows the collapse of the case against John Downey after he produced a letter from the Government assuring him he was not wanted for the IRA's Hyde Park bombing of 1982, which later turned out to have been sent in error.

David Temple's 16-year-old brother William was one of nine people who died in the IRA's triple bombing in Claudy near Dungiven almost 42 years ago.

Mr Temple said he was "disgusted" when he heard the news about the OTRs on the radio as it came just months after the PSNI told relatives that police were shutting down the investigation into Claudy.

He said: "I was never confident that anyone would ever be brought to justice.

"There's been a huge cover-up – the sort of deal that they're still doing today, but every victim lives in the world of hope that we might get justice."

Before the revelations about the OTRs deal, Mr Temple had launched a civil court action against the Government, the police and the Catholic Church over the bombings.

The now deceased priest Fr James Chesney was suspected of having had a role in the attacks.

Mr Temple said he could well believe that some of the people responsible have got OTR letters.

"I don't know the bombers' names but I've been told they are still out there and I could well believe that some of them have got these letters.

"But I will never know for sure. The only ones with the answers are the Government and Sinn Fein and they're not going to tell us."

He added: "But I will keep up the battle as long as there's a breath in my body. I am doing it for William and the eight other innocent victims."

Florence Graham, whose 29-year-old RUC member brother Gordon Wilson was killed in an IRA bombing in February 1983, said the OTRs issue is yet another nightmare in her bad dream.

"I just feel like bursting into tears all the time," she said.

Mrs Graham said the news about the OTRs came at the end of a traumatic day when she'd been at a victims conference in Belfast where self-acknowledged former IRA members also attended.

She said: "All these perpetrators are now classed as victims. It's unreal."

QUOTES

"I feel like bursting into tears."

– Florence Graham, whose 29-year-old brother Gordon Wilson was killed in an IRA bombing in Armagh in 1983.

"The only ones with the answers are the Government and Sinn Fein and they're not going to tell us."

– David Temple, whose brother was killed by IRA bomb.

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