Downey case collapse may become a resigning matter – Peter Robinson demands judicial inquiry

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Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson has threatened to resign unless there is a judicial inquiry into secret letters given to more than 180 paramilitary suspects.

The DUP leader said he was not prepared to remain as first minister in a power-sharing administration that is being kept in the dark about such an important matter.

Mr Robinson said he would discuss this with the Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers at a meeting later.

This is a risky game of brinkmanship. [Ed - Though in an election year, that's the only play available.] The timeline of who-knew-what-and-when is still unravelling. The number of stakeholders upset involves Labour and Conservative ministers and advisers, the NIO, the CPS, the PSNI and police staff bodies, Sinn Fein and those who were On the Run, victims and their families, as well as the other NI parties. A lot of stories to tell about just how ‘secret’ the OTR process really was.

If the then DUP leader Ian Paisley was aware, will the deputy leader and now First Minister have to claim he – and the rest of the party – was kept in the dark, when journalists were aware of the discussions?

Nigel Dodds MP started the DUP devolution-wrecking ball rolling in Westminster and was followed by Gregory Campbell who said:

If we had been sitting across the table discussing the possibility of a new system of government and someone had said: ‘By the way, here is an essential ingredient without which no deal can be done,’ then we would have said, ‘Then no deal can be done’.

This of course contradicts Jonathan Powell’s mémoire.

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Mr Robinson insists that he will resign if a full inquiry into the situation is not granted – adding that, if his party known about the immunity deals, they would not be in government today.

  • Sp12

    As the details drip out, his plan to look good in the eyes of Unionists, is plead either ignorance or incompetence.
    I can’t believe this is the man always touted as the DUP’s master strategist.

  • Gopher

    Do any sitting members of SF (North or South) have one of these letters?

  • Neil

    According to Sherriff Kelly on Wendy Austin, in the North the answer is no.

  • Morpheus

    What does he expect this judicial review to say exactly?

    187 people asked if they were being pursued, the police looked into it and wrote to them them all saying that they weren’t. I hate to break it to Peter but that is housekeeping.

    The mistake here is that 1 of these guys was told that he was not being pursued when The London police were pursuing him and in fact had built a case against him. Were extradition proceedings under way before he was arrested? Hopefully that will come out later.

    The Judge could have gone ahead and prosecuted the case but any QC worth his/her salt could argue that the only reason he was in front of the Judge in the first place was because he was teased into the UK on the promise that he would not be prosecuted and then prosecuted when he got there. I can’t see why any prosecution would not have been overturned in a heartbeat.

    At least now they can begin extradition proceedings and do the job right

    If Peter wants to resign over housekeeping instead of the state of the health service then so be it. Toodles. But for the rest of us I think it’s time for a collective declenching – a mistake was made and it can now be rectified

  • Charles_Gould

    It is outrageous – that is clear.

    SDLP voted agains this when they tried to pass it as law.

    So they did a secret deal.

    Margaret Ritchie spot on today in PMQs.

  • cynic2

    “Were extradition proceedings under way before he was arrested?”

    No because the Irish Government were involved in the collusion too

  • Morpheus

    Oh right, tinfoil hats for everyone then.

  • Charles_Gould

    SDLP are tweeting that victims and survivors want a peace that will *not* be contaminated by *dirty side deals* between SF and British.

  • Charles_Gould

    Margaret Ritchie interviewed on UTV is spot on: focus must be on victims in all of this; secret dirty deals between Number 10 and Sinn Féin cannot be tolerated given that SDLP and Parliament voted against such arrangements.

  • Morpheus

    Surely the Ministerial Statement on Pete’s thread puts an end to all this conspiracy theory bollix about dirty deals…

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2014/02/26/the-government-communicated-back-the-response-to-sinn-fein-via-a-letter-from-the-northern-ireland-office/

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    Didn’t realise the SDLP had hired a new press officer.

  • IrelandNorth

    The seperation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial in parliamentary democracies (including constitutional monarchies) isn’t for nothing. Checks and balances against the tendency towards despotism of unaccountable rulers. Reassuring to know that the current British PM has emphasised GB as operating under the rule of law. Which for unionists means not always getting ones way, however culturally unfamiliar that may be. You cant have a peace process without amnesties of smome kind, which benefits all protagonists of previous conflicts.