Belfast Telegraph

OTR letters final nail in the coffin of victims, Ann Travers tells MPs

By Michael McHugh

The sister of a woman murdered by the IRA has told MPs Government letters telling terrorist suspects they were no longer wanted were "the final nail in the coffin of victims".

Ann Travers' sister Mary (22) was shot dead as she left Mass in Belfast with her father, the magistrate Tom Travers, in 1984.

She told the NI Affairs Committee, which is holding an inquiry into the so-called letters of assurance informing 'on-the-runs', that they were not being sought , that it felt as though her sister did "not matter anymore".

Ms Travers said: "The OTR letters seem to be like the final nail in the coffin of victims. Nobody is getting any justice or any prosecutions for their loved ones' murders and those responsible... seem to be continually rewarded."

Ms Travers also said she was disappointed that Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly would not appear before the committee, after the party submitted written evidence. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has also said the party has already co-operated with a separate judge-led inquiry under Lady Justice Heather Hallett.

The DUP's Ian Paisley jnr called for Westminster to compel Mr Kelly to appear. But Mr Kelly said the committee was set up as "a sop to unionism" by former Prime Minister John Major when he was seeking votes in the Commons.

"We've already met with Lady Justice Hallett and that was the review set up to look at this issue," he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein claimed that three fugitives wanted by police were told that they had been cleared at the start of March.

That appears to contradict Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, who had said that no letters had been sent since 2012.

The process for dealing with those fleeing justice sparked controversy after it came to light with the collapse of the trial of Donegal man John Downey for the 1982 Hyde Park bombing in which four soldiers died.

Mr Downey, who received one of the letters, denied the charges.

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