NIO probe stinks of a cover-up, says Nesbitt

Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt
Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt

There has been criticism of the Government for not having announced the name of the judge who will conduct a review of the on the runs administrative scheme a week after the Prime Minister announced the investigation.

The probe, and clarification that the letters could not be used to evade justice, was what persuaded First Minister Peter Robinson last Friday to withdraw his threat to resign.

On Tuesday, the NIO said that the judge’s name would be announced “as soon as possible”.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said: “A week ago, the First Minister was huffing and puffing about resignation matters. Then he climbed down over the promise of this judge-led process.

“It hardly needs said that a judge-led process without a judge to lead it is not a process at all. This stinks of a cover-up designed to push the conclusion of the process beyond the 22nd of May elections and protect the vested interests at the heart of the devolved government.

“If the political will was there, I see no reason why this inquiry could not be completed and report its findings in time for the electorate to do what it is entitled to do — vote on the basis of what they believe and who they trust.”

He claimed that victims of terrorism were “once again suffering to protect the Sinn Fein/DUP carve-up at the heart of government”.

Last Thursday, David Cameron announced that a judge would examine the issue and report by the end of May. His report will be published, but the inquiry will take place in private and he will not have the power to compel witnesses.