Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

DUP guilty of double standards on amnesties

DUP leader Peter Robinson's furore over what appears to be British government approved amnesties for Irish republican on-the-run's is, I believe, a case of double standards.

In December 2006 in a confidential letter, the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair assured SF President Gerry Adams that the Government, having already announced it would no longer pursue the extradition of individuals convicted of pre-1998 offences who had escaped from prison and who would, if they returned to Northern Ireland and successfully applied for the early release scheme, have little if any of their time left to serve, was now working with a renewed focus on putting in place mechanisms to resolve all OTR cases.

This included "expediting the existing administrative procedures". Mr Blair further stated that "I have always believed that the position of these OTRs is an anomaly which needs to be addressed. Before I leave office I am committed to finding a scheme which will resolve all the cases".

This British government position on OTRs has been in the public domain since 1998.

Mr Robinson should know why it was almost exclusively republicans who sought and were granted amnesties. Many loyalist paramilitaries involved in the most grotesque murders of Catholics didn't need amnesties.

Many were actively in collusion with the security forces of the State.

TOM COOPER

Dublin

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