A former senior RUC officer who survived the 1985 Newry mortar attack has quit a victims’ organisation over the on the runs (OTR) revelations.
Errol McDowell said he had resigned “with immediate effect” from the Victims and Survivors Forum in disgust at what he called “immoral Government pardons” for terrorists.
The retired chief inspector, who holds the Queen’s Police Medal, said: “I believe that all victims should have the right to pursue justice.
“For a victim to place their hopes in a judicial process and then witness a letter of comfort being produced by a republican terrorist and signed by the British Government would be totally devastating to the individual – without the right for victims to pursue justice on the table then I conclude that all attempts to address the past are sadly pointless.”
Mr McDowell was attending a major victims’ conference in Belfast this week when news of the “comfort letters” – issued to suspected republican terrorists who feared arrest if they entered the UK – became public.
Speaking at the conference, he had outlined his experiences as an officer right from the Troubles’ early days, and also talked of the IRA attack on Newry RUC station in 1985.
”I was having a meal in a canteen in Newry police station,“ he said. “A mortar bomb exploded, and around me was nine people dead; cut to bits. That’s a terrible experience that’s lived with me all my life.”
Announcing his resignation from the forum yesterday, Mr McDowell said: “I find it morally repugnant that terrorism has been acquiesced in this manner.
“I can no longer be involved in a process where such principles have been callously disregarded.”