Belfast Telegraph

On-the-Runs scandal took no account of innocent Troubles victims

Lady Justice Hallett said a 'catastrophic' error had been made in the case of John Downey
Lady Justice Hallett said a 'catastrophic' error had been made in the case of John Downey
John Downey
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair

Last week saw the publication of the House of Commons select committee report into the On the Runs scandal.

Thirteen months previously Peter Robinson spelt out very clearly what needed to happen in order to prevent his resignation over the issue:

“I want a full judicial inquiry into all of these matters so we can see who knew, when they knew and what they knew. I want to know who the 187 people are that received these letters …. I want to know who they are, what crimes they were believed to have committed because don’t forget justice isn’t just about whether the police at that moment in time have sufficient evidence to make a prosecution stick because as time goes on forensics may change, new evidence may come in where a prosecution could take place so it is absolutely vital that nobody is allowed to think they can get away with it. That’s why I want all the letters rescinded.”

One private judge led review, one House of Commons Select Committee Report and no judicial inquiry later Peter Robinson has got none of those things. And yet he remains in office.

Jim Allister exposed more about who actually received Royal Prerogatives of Mercy and OTR letters in five minutes on Talk Back than the whole process outlined above.

The fact that Mr Robinson would make such a public pledge on the matter only to meekly accept things which fell well short of what he demanded is part of the problem as far as victims are concerned.

The Westminster government knows that Stormont is much too precious to the DUP for them to even contemplate walking away on a point of principle.

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One of the things which has been overlooked by the media and was largely glossed over in the report as well is that a lot of the OTR letters were issued in the lead up to the DUP going into government with Sinn Fein. Tony Blair claimed that they were “essential” when it came to keeping Sinn Fein on board – and presumably getting them on to the Policing Board.

No one can be in any doubt now that the deal which elevated Martin McGuinness to the top of government in Northern Ireland as co-Frist Minister was based on a most immoral process which took no account of the feelings of innocent victims and totally dispensed with any idea of justice. 

Read more:

OTR letters 'possibly unlawful' Westminster inquiry has found

OTR letters 'possibly unlawful' Westminster inquiry has found 

Mowlam 'asked loyalists if they had fugitives who needed comfort letters' 

Name republicans who got royal pardons, PM is urged 

On-the-runs: Members of parliamentary watchdog demand that suspects are named immediately 

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