What did UUP know about OTRs?


Kenny Donaldson (July 8) asks whether ‘some are drifting towards again sleeping at the wheel as was the case with the On the Run Administrative Scheme fiasco?’

There is ample evidence in Dean Godson’s 2004 biography of David Trimble (Himself alone) that ‘on-the-runs’ (OTR) were openly discussed over several years at the highest levels of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

Indeed the biography is liberally laced with references to OTRs to such an extent that they appear in the index.

For example on page 743-4 Godson observes of (Lord) Trimble: ‘he could turn up the rhetoric, and in the past had expressed ”revulsion” at the idea of an amnesty for OTRs which, he alleged, would have a “devastating impact on public confidence in the Agreement”. Likewise, he told a meeting of the Liaison Group between Westminster MPs and Stormont Asembleymen at Cunningham House […] He also hoped that the OTRs scheme could be used as a model for the treatment of members of the security forces accused of crimes’.

As a leading candidate, albeit unsuccessful, to replace Tom Elliott as the UUP MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (News Letter, 25 June 2015) one would expect Mr Donaldson to be in a position to ask what senior members of his party knew about OTRs at the time.

Of course his namesake in the DUP was at that time (2002) an Ulster Unionist MP and so, presumably, also present at that meeting of the Liaison Group.

And at least one leading DUP MP was present and photographed at the Belfast book launch, and so one might expect some in that party to have read the book and its references to OTRs.

Given the evidence, one might say that the UUP was ‘the dog that didn’t bark’ during the recent OTR furore referred to by Mr. Donaldson.

In short, one can hardly describe elected representatives in the UUP and DUP as being asleep at the wheel when the evidence is to the contrary.

Bernard J. Mulholland, Malone Road