Belfast Telegraph

Issue public denial about IRA amnesty claims, Dublin urged

By Brian Hutton

The Irish Government has privately denied there was an amnesty for more than a decade for IRA killers operating in the Republic.

But families and survivors of the worst single atrocity of the Troubles are demanding a public statement about claims by former Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell that a blind eye was turned to Provo fugitives.

A government official in Dublin has told Margaret Urwin, of Justice for Forgotten, which is campaigning for the truth about the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, that various attempts were made to deal with the on-the-runs issue during the peace process.

In a letter, the Department of Justice civil servant said the Republic's Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was aware of Mr McDowell's remarks but said the Garda would pursue any evidence in relation to Troubles-related offences.

But Ms Urwin is demanding a public statement from the Dublin government about the high-level claims.

"We are seeking definitive clarification about this," she said.

"The person who made these remarks is not just some ordinary member of the public. This was a person who was right at the heart of government."

Asked about the on-the-runs controversy in Northern Ireland and Britain, Mr McDowell said there was "a consensus" in the Republic dating back at least 14 years that Garda would no longer be prosecuting historical cases.

Ms Urwin said Mr McDowell was at the heart of justice in the Republic. "He's hardly likely to make these remarks unless there is some truth in them," she said.

Story so far

Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP MP for Lagan Valley, has written to Taoiseach Enda Kenny seeking a face-to-face meeting along with victims' families about claims of a de facto amnesty in the Republic. The issue was raised recently after former Irish justice minister Michael McDowell claimed that a blind eye was turned to republican fugitives for more than a decade.

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