Belfast Telegraph

NIO denies new fugitive letters

No new assurances have been given to Sinn Fein about on-the-run republicans, the Northern Ireland Office said.

Meetings between the Government and Sinn Fein in March were intended to reconcile discrepancies in lists of names, an official statement said.

The republican party claimed three people were confirmed as cleared even though no new letters telling fugitives they are not wanted by police for conflict crimes have been sent since 2012.

An NIO statement said: "In her statement to Parliament on 25 March, the Secretary of State (Theresa Villiers) explained that work was ongoing to reconcile the different information held by the Northern Ireland Office, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Sinn Fein, to determine the actual numbers dealt with by the scheme. NIO officials met Sinn Fein in March as part of this reconciliation work.

"The outcome of this work has been passed in full to Lady Justice Hallett, who will consider it as part of her inquiry into the operation of the scheme. She will produce a full public record of the scheme, which will be published in due course.

"As the Secretary of State said in her initial statement on 7 March, no OTR letters have been issued by the NIO since Dec 2012 and as far as this Government is concerned, the scheme is over.

"We do not agree with Sinn Fein's assertion that 3 individuals were "confirmed as cleared" in March. The meetings that took place between NIO officials and Sinn Fein in March were to consider and attempt to reconcile the different lists held by NIO and Sinn Fein.

"As part of the reconciliation process Sinn Fein and the NIO became aware of a number of discrepancies between our respective records. No new "not wanted" assurances were given."

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