Belfast Telegraph

Travers furious at Republic of Ireland government over own on-the-runs policy

By Cate McCurry

Victims campaigner Ann Travers has condemned the Irish Government for putting in place a scheme similar to the controversial on-the-runs (OTRs) letters which secretly gave assurances to IRA suspects they were safe from prosecution.

Some are understood to be the suspected killers of Lord Mountbatten in 1979 and British Ambassador Christopher Ewart-Biggs in 1976.

Official documents between the Irish and British Governments that have just come to light reveal Dublin was already running an informal scheme where suspects were promised they did not face arrest before the British scheme started.

Ms Travers, whose sister Mary was shot dead by an IRA gang as she left Mass with her family in 1984, has called for the Irish Government to "come clean" about the policy.

In an eight-page memo, written on May 3, 2000, Sir Jonathan Stephens, then associate political director at the Northern Ireland Office, outlined discussions that had taken place at the Irish Embassy in London.

He wrote: "On OTRs, the British side undertook to operate the Irish procedure of clarifying the position of named individuals and reviewing cases where appropriate, but with no guarantees of the outcome: Sinn Fein want an undertaking that the general principle of not pursuing OTRs will be recognised by July."

Ms Travers said Taoiseach Enda Kenny should answer questions surrounding the Kingsmills massacre and the Enniskillen Remembrance Day atrocity. "This time the Irish Government should come out and tell the whole truth as to how much they supported the on-the-run scheme.

"I think the Irish Government now have moral duty to the victims of the IRA to come clean about everything.

"This is why the Irish Government need to come out immediately and not hesitate over this, I fully expect the Taoiseach to release a statement to either reassure or confirm what has gone on."

She has also called for an independent inquiry similar to that carried out by Lady Justice Hallett into the administrative scheme for dealing with OTRs.

"Fine Gael can't criticise Sinn Fein now and yet not come clean about what happened. It's hypocritical. If they really care about victims and the welfare of citizens then they need to come clean."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph