DCSIMG

Victims bemused and let down by events this week, says Stone

Victims Commissioner Kathryn Stone pictured at her office in Belfast city centre. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.

Victims Commissioner Kathryn Stone pictured at her office in Belfast city centre. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.

Victims of terrorism have been left disappointed and bemused by revelations surrounding the John Downey case, Victims’ Commissioner Kathryn Stone has said.

She called for greater openness, honesty and transparency over the Government’s letters of assurance to on the run potential suspects.

Ms Stone asked Secretary of State Theresa Villiers to meet relatives or survivors of those bereaved by 30 years of conflict, something which Ms Villiers has done on numerous occasions since taking up office, and provide greater clarification of the affair’s implications.

“I am concerned that these are very serious matters. People have been very bitterly disappointed and bemused by the event,” she said.

“Judge Sweeney makes clear that these letters were never meant to be amnesty.

“There is a perception that that is the case and we need to make sure.

“Perhaps one of the things that could be usefully done is for the Secretary of State to issue a clarification and the sooner that that clarification is made then the better it will be.”

Ms Villiers has said the on-the-run letters never constituted an amnesty from prosecution for alleged crimes.

Sinn Fein provided lists of names to the Government as part of the peace process, the Downey judgment revealed.

At least 187 people received the ‘letters of comfort’ which said they were not currently wanted by police but did not rule out future prosecution if circumstances changed.

Ms Stone has been appointed by the Stormont administration to independently represent the views of victims.

The Commissioner said the Government should spell out details in the Hyde Park judgment which appeared to rule out an amnesty from prosecution, given that most people don’t have the time to read such a lengthy document.

“People have taken this to mean not only will they not have access to justice but there will be no opportunity to access justice and that is very difficult for people to swallow,” she added.

“We need to be very, very clear about that.

“There are a lot of myths, let’s make sure that we have real clarity.”

 

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