Norman Tebbit has claimed that a very senior Sinn Fein figure was on the verge of being charged with eight murders when Sinn Fein was persuaded to sign up to the 1998 Belfast Agreement.
Lord Tebbit, a fierce opponent of republicans, was injured in the 1984 Brighton bomb and his wife was left with serious permanent disability as a result of her injuries.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the former Conservative minister said: “Any fair-minded person would have been sickened by the contrast in the treatment of IRA/Sinn Fein terrorist murderers and soldiers who risked their lives in protecting people against them.”
Lord Tebbit accepted that a lasting settlement would require “some hard-to-swallow deals” but said it “turns my stomach” to see soldiers facing prosecution after terrorists walked free.
“The irony and the tragedy of events was that even the politicians within the NIO did not understand that despite their defeatism, the Army and security services had the IRA by the throat and on its knees, and that was why it sought a ceasefire and negotiation of a settlement.
“As we all now know, our security service had informers in the highest councils of IRA/Sinn Fein. Inevitably that meant that even with the knowledge of a planned bombing the security services could not always act to prevent it without giving away the identity of their informers.
“What they could do, and I understand did do, was to methodically acquire the evidence with which one very senior IRA/Sinn Fein killer was to have been charged with eight killings.
“I suspect that it was that which precipitated the IRA/Sinn Fein plea for talks.”