Terror victim describes ‘breathtaking admission’ by ex-Irish Justice Minister of defacto amnesty given to IRA

A man whose Garda father was murdered by republicans says an admission by former Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell that his government gave a de facto amnesty to the IRA was “a breathtaking admission”.

Saturday, 6th November 2021, 6:30 am
Updated Saturday, 6th November 2021, 10:16 am
Former Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell said his government granted a de facto amnesty.

Dubliner Dr Finian Fallon was speaking after Mr McDowell wrote in the Irish Times this week that Sinn Fein needs to take a “reality check” on historic prosecutions of British soldiers in light of the immunity the IRA has been given on both sides of the border. Mr Fallon’s Garda father was murdered by republicans in a Dublin bank robbery in 1970.

Mr McDowell, Justice Minister from 2002-07, said the Seanad recently condemned UK proposals for a Troubles amnesty, but he noted that from 1998 to 2006 Sinn Féin had “incessantly demanded” immunity from criminal prosecution for IRA members.

“[Therefore] the Irish government of which I was a member took the decision that further investigation and prosecution by An Garda Síochána of such historic offences was no longer warranted or justified by reason of the greater interest” he said.

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But Dr Fallon described this as “a breathtaking admission”. He added: “In the decisions not to pursue perpetrators, we see the reality of state cynicism laid bare: individuals are collateral damage in the pursuit of a perceived national interest and may be killed, maimed or murdered in the pursuit of these aims, with justice an irrelevant after thought, subject to the prevailing political winds.”

Kenny Donaldson, Spokesman for Innocent Victims United, said Mr McDowell’s comments were an admission of the Irish State’s failure to live up to its responsibility to protect ‘the right to life’ under the European Convention on Human Rights - something he said Dublin often accuses the UK of failing to do. He said the admissions “make a mockery of the position being taken currently by the Irish Government on legacy”.

TUV leader Jim Allister said the Mr McDowell had made “a shockingly open admission”. However he said it would be “a mistake” to think that the Republic “suddenly developed a blind eye to IRA terrorism” under Mr McDowell’s government; From 1973 and 1997 the UK requested the extradition of 110 suspected terrorists from the Republic of Ireland, but only eight suspects were extradited, he added.

The Irish government, Mr McDowell and Sinn Fein were invited to comment.


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Ben Lowry