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Sinn Fein refuse to give evidence to MPs’ committee on OTR letters

It was the collapse of the case against John Downey,accused of involvement in the Hyde Park bombing of 1982 (the aftermath of which is pictured here), that sparked the OTRs controversy.
He had recieved one of the so-called 'letters of comfort' assuring him he was not wanted for the crime.

It was the collapse of the case against John Downey,accused of involvement in the Hyde Park bombing of 1982 (the aftermath of which is pictured here), that sparked the OTRs controversy. He had recieved one of the so-called 'letters of comfort' assuring him he was not wanted for the crime.

Sinn Fein has said it will not give evidence before a Westminster committee which is investigating ‘comfort letters’ for on-the-run republicans.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that, although the party had nothing to hide, officials would decline invitations to attend a Northern Ireland select committee hearing in London this week.

The committee is investigating revelations made earlier this year that three British governments since 2001 provided 228 IRA on-the-runs (OTRs) with letters stating they were no longer wanted for past crimes.

The other four parties in the Stormont government accuse Westminster and Sinn Fein of keeping the deal secret.

A separate inquiry by Lady Justice Heather Hallett was ordered by David Cameron after the collapse of a case against a man accused of the IRA’s Hyde Park bomb in 1982 – an attack that killed four soldiers.

The prosecution of John Downey, 62, from Co Donegal, was halted last month when it emerged he was wrongly sent a so-called letter of assurance informing him the authorities in the UK were not looking for him.

Downey, who was wanted by detectives in London, had denied the murder of the four soldiers.

Mr McGuinness said: “Sinn Fein has clearly outlined our position on the issue of on-the-runs and despite claims to the contrary, neither this process, nor the agreements on which it was based, were secret or hidden.

“However, in the interests of transparency and in an attempt to minimise the damage to the peace process from a growing public controversy, Sinn Fein agreed to participate fully and willingly in the Hallett Review.

“To that end our party president Gerry Adams, (Sinn Fein national executive member) Gerry Kelly and myself met with the Hallett Review team earlier this week and put Sinn Fein’s position on this and other legacy issues on the record.” We see no point therefore in Gerry Kelly attending the Westminster committee.”

 

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