OTR crisis begins to abate: totally inappropriately

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The crisis has begun to abate, without the direct threat of Stormont collapsing in the immediate future. Despite various claims from the predictable sources in both former government and pliant media circles this was and remains a major scandal and a colossal indictment of the whole political process.

The first suggestion at minimising the relevance of these events has been that the suggestion that these letters to suspected terrorists as arranged by Sinn Fein (was the old term Sinn Fein / IRA ever more appropriate?) were not actually letters of amnesty. That may be theoretically correct but functionally nonsense. Quite clearly these letters suggested that persons suspected of serious criminal wrongdoing were no longer going to be pursued and despite Robinson’s claims of last week it looks extremely likely that the letters are still well worth the paper they are written on. The only outrage on this issue which can fairly be described as synthetic is any such by the government of the RoI. The serial failure over the decades of the Troubles by successive RoI governments to extradite suspected or even convicted terrorists was the major driver for the “need” for these letters in the first place.

The next suggestion for minimisation is that it has been argued that some or all of the political parties knew what was going on or should have done. That may have some validity but such has been the sheer level of dishonesty and duplicity by the Blair government over the process in Northern Ireland that no one except the likes of Blair, Powell, Mowlam and Hain (if even they) would have been able to keep track of the side deals. The simple fact is also that we were repeatedly told that there was and would be no amnesty. That claim was repeated frequently and even if true initially it rapidly became untrue. The unionist parties and particularly the SDLP have good reason to feel aggrieved. They were there when there were attempts to introduce an amnesty for “On the Run’s.” The plan was defeated in parliament and then Hain went and did exactly what the legislature had prevented him from doing. This episode crystallises perfectly the abject contempt for parliamentary democracy displayed by Blair, Hain et al. That contempt from Hain a white Kenyan / South African who first came to prominence supporting democracy against apartheid South Africa is particularly ironic.

Another group treated with contempt of course has been the electorate. Nowhere in the Belfast agreement was an amnesty suggested. Indeed the maximum sentence of two years was an extremely bitter pill for many to swallow: not just victims, nor only unionists. It is often forgotten that the level of support garnered by the Belfast Agreement was a significant achievement: at times it looked as though the majority might have been significantly lower than 70%. Just before the referendum Blair made a series of pledges to the electorate. A number of those were effectively reneged upon but had it been clear that there was going to be an amnesty for anyone it is highly likely that not only unionist support for the agreement would have plummeted.

The next group treated with contempt were the victims. They have been repeatedly consulted only to have the majority of their views studiously ignored. The overwhelming majority have repeatedly opposed an amnesty and have stated a preference for the current (prior to last week) situation to any amnesty. Since an amnesty for at least some terrorists was already underway the Eames Bradley group seems to have been an even more pointless and cynical exercise than it appeared when it was being conducted and released. Eames Bradley may well have created a defacto road map for an amnesty but it claimed to oppose one. That Bradley claims to have known all along about these procedures raises the question of what Eames and the others knew about it and when. If they knew all along did why were they utterly dishonest about it and if not when did they know or what now do they think about being led such a merry dance by Bradley and the British government which especially in Eames’ case has had major negative repercussions for their standing in the community.

Another group who have been treated contemptuously or else were in on the deceit are Haass and his group. Only a few weeks ago they were here considering these sorts of issues (amongst others) yet now we learn that part of it had actually been decided years ago.

This scandal seems to be abating somewhat. Actually it should not. Peter Robinson was entirely correct to demand a judicial enquiry. Such an enquiry should be able to demand answers from all the leading architects of this sordid deal including Blair and Hain. The reality is that they have displayed contempt for victims, the people of Northern Ireland and even for parliament. This is in some ways a more serious scandal than that over the Dodgy Dossier on Iraq. In tis case not only was parliament mislead but its wishes were directly reversed by the executive. Whilst Robinson might feel it reasonable to await the outcome of the current promised enquiry, unless it enlarges its terms of reference and delivers way about expectations, it will not be anything like adequate. Then in a few weeks it will be much more difficult for Robinson to repeat his threats of resignation.

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  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    The enquiry ordered by Cameron is a complete scam. It will say that procedures were followed, that’s all folks.

  • Charles_Gould

    Excellent blog post.

    Perhaps Peter Robinson should have resigned and had an election?

  • socaire

    Turgon, if you think that ‘devolution’ means ‘devolution of power from Westminster’, then think again. A county council is still a county council and they certainly don’t pay the piper. Unionists have been the big dogs here for so long that they just can’t contemplate anything else. An appalling vista? As the DUP used to love to say ‘Come on and smell the coffee’.

  • Morpheus

    The word amnesty has been used 9 times in this post when it has already been made abundantly clear that the letters were not amnesty, immunity, ‘get out of jail’ cards or anything even remotely close.

    With respect Turgon, I appreciate that you took the time to write this opinion piece but all of these theories have been debunked in another thread on Slugger.

  • Turgon

    Morpheus,
    As I have pointed out theoretically you are correct. In actual fact, however, these letters appear to be functionally an amnesty for the individuals concerned.

    If the practical position is now to be reconciled with the theoretical position then indeed the claim has been debunked. However, currently there is no practical evidence to substantiate the theoretical position and plenty of evidence to contradict it and support the practical one. If the positions are reconciled that will be a change.

  • Morpheus

    Totally disagree Turgon.

    The Ministerial Statement shows the wording of the letters:
    “”The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has been informed by the Attorney General that on the basis of the information currently available, there is no outstanding direction for prosecution in Northern Ireland, there are no warrants in existence nor are you wanted in Northern Ireland for arrest, questioning or charge by the police. The Police Service of Northern Ireland are not aware of any interest in you from any other police force in the United Kingdom. If any other outstanding offence or offences came to light, or if any request for extradition were to be received, these would have to be dealt with in the usual way.”

    What precisely in there indicates that the holder has an amnesty, immunity or a GOOJ card?

  • Morpheus

    In regards to the Manuelian myth that ‘we know nothing’ then we have all this:

    1. We have the policing board minutes confirming that they were briefed not once but twice – the minutes from April 2010 when ACC Drew Harris briefed the PB which had the following people present:
    SF – Martina Anderson, Alex Maskey, Gearóid Ó hEára
    SDLP – Alex Attwood
    DUP – Tom Buchanan, Jimmy Spratt, Peter Weir
    UUP – Leslie Cree, Basil McCrea (at that time), Trevor Ringland
    PUP – David Rose

    Civilian – Sir Desmond Rea, Suneil Sharma, Brian Rea

    Indeed it was the DUP’s very own Tom Buchanan who was questioning the ACC.
    Note the lack of Alliance members.

    2. Here is a clip from Radio Ulster last week when Trevor Ringland confirms he knew about the scheme, his comments come in the first 90 seconds and then he goes on to confirm that the DUP knew:
    https://audioboo.fm/boos/1956451-trevor-ringland-

    3. Basil McCrea and Denis Bradley who were also on the policing board have also confirmed that they were briefed.

    4. Then we have The Eames Bradley Report which talks about the scheme

    5. Then we have the BBC reports (written by none other than the best journalist in Northern Ireland at this time, Brian Rowan) dating back to June 2002 which also talks about the scheme:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/20433

    6. We also know that Government Agencies knew about the scheme
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-nati

    7. We also know that Loyalists were given exactly the same access to the scheme
    This from The Belfast Telegraph under the title “On the runs: Loyalists were also asked for a list of their fugitives” which quotes William ‘Plum’ Smyth, former chairman of the Progressive Unionist Party who took part in the negotiations when he said:

    “We attended meetings with civil servants, the NIO and British Government. We went to a meeting and were told to put together a list of loyalists we thought to be on the run. The first steps were made ahead of the Good Friday Agreement. It didn’t really affect us, though, as we had no people on the run. Loyalists couldn’t hide in the South, they couldn’t go to America. We had no safe havens. That’s why the on-the-runs issue didn’t become a big problem. But on the pursuit of people for pre-1998 offences, it was quite clear there would be no prosecutions.”

    As an added point of clarity he said:
    “For the DUP to say they didn’t know is nonsense. They weren’t there during the Good Friday talks but they were being kept informed at the highest level by Mo Mowlam.”
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-nati

    8. Then we have the Chief of Staff confirming that the DUP knew when he wrote that Mr Robinson and Mr Dodds “said they could accept the implementation of the unpopular undertakings we had made under the Joint Declaration on OTRs as long as Tony (Blair) wrote to (Ian) Paisley making it clear that these concessions had been agreed during David Trimble’s watch, not theirs.”
    http://www.channel4.com/news/northern-irelands-se

  • Turgon

    Morpheus,

    I think you are coming from this from a legal perspective (are you a lawyer – not insulting just wondering – a solicitor friend of mine suggested you comments show great legal understanding). I am coming at it from a political perspective (not that I am a politician). My suggestion is you are legally completely correct and politically completely wrong.

    As to which is correct we can only wait and see.

  • Morpheus

    There is a comment in moderation which gives a wealth of evidence that the scheme was in the public domain.

  • Morpheus

    No I am not legally trained – far from it. :)

    I am however able to take a step back and look at this objectively – something which has sadly lacking in the past 7 days – and taking evidence from a number of sources.

  • aquifer

    This violence was political, and who also contributed to ongoing political stalemate? The first bombing was done by paisleyites, at the silent valley. Paisleyites tried to deny catholic british citizens shared participation in governing part of the British state.

    At what point does ongoing political stupidity become reckless or culpable?

  • cynic2

    “If any other outstanding offence or offences came to light, or if any request for extradition were to be received, these would have to be dealt with in the usual way.”

    Morpheus

    This says nothing about fresh evidence coming to light in the matters they were on the run for – its a de facto amnesty for the cases they were wanted in

    And did NIO or Cabinet Office dilute the caveats in the letters sent to them by PSNI or was this PSNI’s draft? If it was changed at The Castle or Westminister, who authorised it and why?

  • cynic2

    “A county council is still a county council ”

    and thats what we have got

  • Mick Fealty

    Morph,

    I’ll unlock that when I get back. (Though I’m guessing we’ve seen most of it before)…

  • Morpheus

    Cynic, you can’t take isolated lines out and ignore the rest. The whole thing reads:
    “The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has been informed by the Attorney General that on the basis of the information currently available, there is no outstanding direction for prosecution in Northern Ireland, there are no warrants in existence nor are you wanted in Northern Ireland for arrest, questioning or charge by the police. The Police Service of Northern Ireland are not aware of any interest in you from any other police force in the United Kingdom. If any other outstanding offence or offences came to light, or if any request for extradition were to be received, these would have to be dealt with in the usual way.”

    That clearly says that the recipient was not wanted for arrest, questioning or charge by the police in Northern Ireland or the rest of the UK. They were’t even wanted for questioning. It then goes on to warn them that is any new evidence comes to light then they will be prosecuted.

    The letters are very clearly not an amnesty, immunity nor GOOJ cards.

    As for diluting the caveats then there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case. Without seeing all 186 of the letters which did not contain mistakes – and I can’t think of any reason why we should – all we can go by is the SoS who said that all the letters confirmed if they were wanted or not

  • Morpheus

    Yes Mick we have seen most if not all of it before but thread after thread keeps popping up on Slugger – how many is that now saying the same thing? – and these myths deserve to be debunked.

    We need a balanced, objective piece which looks at everything – the Ministerial Statement, the minutes, the Judgement, the interviews…everything – not just the anti-SF rhetoric.

    At the minute all the different aspects of this story (the letters, the Judgement, the RPOMs, who knew what etc) are being rolled into a ball and thrown out with little to nothing to back it up rather than addressing them all in turn. Posters are talking about the letters collapsing the case when they didn’t, they are talking about the letters being amnesty when they weren’t and they have the recipients of the letters hung drawn and quartered even though they weren’t even wanted for questioning!

  • Turgon

    Morpheus,
    I do not intend getting involved in a prolonged debate with you on this.

    You provide all sorts of evidence representing legal and indeed apparently factual evidence to “debunk” these “myths”. The problem is that although in a normal democratic system that should work we are not in a normal system. It is still far from clear that all your evidence has any relevance. This is not your fault. It is the fault of the serially dishonest Blair government and their track record of side deals. These side deals have repeatedly been allowed to trump the rule of law.

    As such your patient and accurate “debunking” of these “myths” is something I and few others believe. Unless and until some of those with these letters are prosecuted I am not going to change my views. As such you are casting your pearls of wisdom before swine and this pig is not interested in them.

  • Morpheus

    Your post, with it’s notable change in tone from last night, screams volumes Turgon.

    The fact that you are willing to ignore The Ministerial Statement, The Judgement, the interviews, the minutes etc. (ie. the evidence) tells me that your opinion is not based in fact. Indeed you openly admit that the only thing that is going to change your mind from that opinion is someone who is not even wanted for questioning being prosecuted!

    You say that our politicians didn’t know and I have provided you with several independent sources which clearly contradict that assertion. The rest of your post is based on you saying that the letters amounted to an amnesty for the recipients and I have provided you with the text which shows that they clearly weren’t, they were not even close to being an amnesty If you are ignoring the evidence and just peddling myths then this thread has no meaning whatsoever.

  • Son of Strongbow

    I too will vote for the Porcine Party.

    It’s a bit like a guy who falls off a ten storey building. As he drops past the 5th floor he’s handed a letter through a window. The letter tells him that he is not presently close to the ground and therefore not in any immediate danger.

    What ‘comfort’ would that letter bring?

    If anyone truly believes that Sinn Fein sought from New Labour a number of letters that merely amounted to a ‘statement of fact’, that were potentially immediately out of date should ‘new’ evidence appear, that this was so important to the so-called peace process, so sensitive that according to Hain I had to be arranged in secret. Then I suspect those believers also subscribe to the credo of aeronautical pigs.

  • Turgon

    Morpheus,
    My position has not changed at all. Please try to avoid putting things into people’s mouths: it is fundamentally dishonest.

    I will indeed ignore these statements from the government just as the government has ignored the expressed will of parliament. When some of the OTRs granted these letters are prosecuted I will be delighted to have been proven wrong. We will wait and see.

    Until then I see no purpose to further debate with you as you are clearly utterly convinced of the correctness of your position. Your position is rapidly becoming a single transferable post

  • Morpheus

    I did not say your position had changed – I clearly said your tone had changed. As to your position then I also clearly said that it cannot be based in fact if you are willing to ignore the evidence, including that of an independent Judge who is not caught up in the Northern Ireland political quagmire.

    I am not utterly convinced of the correctness of my position – every day is a school day as far as I am concerned but if what the teacher is telling me is not based in fact then what’s the point going to school?

    By the way, as I said last night, I totally respect the fact that you took the time to write this piece.

  • cynic2

    Morpehes

    ” It then goes on to warn them that is any new evidence comes to light then they will be prosecuted.”

    It actually says ” If any other outstanding offence or offences came to light, ”

    Note the “other”

    And note the quote from Plum Smith in your own post ” But on the pursuit of people for pre-1998 offences, it was quite clear there would be no prosecutions.”

    There was a secret deal not to pursue or prosecute – call it an amnesty or whatever you like. De facto HMG agreed not to pursue PIRA

  • Banjaxed

    Let me get this right, Turgon.
    You make a series of allegations which you claimed, initially, were facts.
    These claims are shot down by Morpheus who goes through them one by one in a forensic manner.
    You then tack in a different direction saying, while Morph may be ‘factually’ correct, he is not ‘politically’ correct. And, incidentally, implying the judge’s findings were based on pure politics and not the facts of the case
    You then tack again, when further proved wrong especially when it showed your post was based on your own personal political bias and speculation. A ‘screw the facts, this is what * I* think’ argument, if ever I heard one.
    And finally, when you realised you’d been rumbled, you take your toys back into your pram and ask Nanny to take you away from this noisy and rough playground as the other boys keep winning the game.
    There, there, son, have another rusk.

  • Granni Trixie

    Re “secret deal not to pursue or prosecute” : who has the authority to do so.? A nod and a wink ultimately does not work because it is above the law and because the court of public opinion will not wear it.

    Don’t get me wrong. In the spirit of the GFA I think leftover problems such as what to do about the OTRs ought to be tackled. Everywhere you have an OTR you often have a family and though I don’t tend to credit SF with much I do credit them with having taken most of their followers with them leaving us with only a handful of dissidents. Better to give as many people as possible a stake in society.
    A big part of the challenge is to do so whilst being sensitive to the views of victims/survivors. .

  • Morpheus

    Cynic, to start ACC Drew Harris confirmed in the policing board briefing minutes from April 2010 that when it comes to the OTRs “it was very good of all these people to put their hands up to crimes that we have never heard of and people we had never been aware of as well.”

    For there to be a secret deal not to pursue or prosecute it would require the suppression of evidence by multiple police officers in multiple police forces to protect people the PSNI never heard of and crimes they weren’t aware of. It simply doesn’t add up.

    And if it was to be secret surely it would be best if the PSNI didn’t brief the policing board with its representatives from SF, SDLP, DUP, UUP and PUP not once but twice? Surely it would be best if Brian Rowan didn’t know the details as far back as 2002? If it has been secret then how did the NI Prison Service know about it to take advantage of it? It simply doesn’t add up.

  • sean treacy

    I see the stoop Gould siding with TUV man Turgon.Was there ever a more accurate term coined than stoop down low party !

  • tacapall

    “They were’t even wanted for questioning. It then goes on to warn them that is any new evidence comes to light then they will be prosecuted.

    The letters are very clearly not an amnesty, immunity nor GOOJ cards”

    Morpheus your just going to dig yourself a deeper hole. NO they are not an amnesty nor are they GOOJ free cards but they certainly were an understanding that the PSNI or other British police forces would not be pursuing them for crimes which the RUC had evidence or knowledge of their involvement, that made them go on the run in the first place ( unless of course its politically expedient to do so the Downey case being an example and not the last I will predict).

    I know people who got these letters and I know why they went on the run in the first place I hadn’t seen them around for years and then suddenly I did. Are you going to piss down my neck and tell me its raining by suggesting they were really all walter mittys who had no need to be on the run.

    Turgon great post as usual but its a pity as usual you brush under the carpet the facts that British state forces also benefited from this type of whitewash. Perhaps you could do a post around the HET and the PSNIs non interest in pursuing all those state actors who armed, controlled and directed scores if not hundreds of paramilitaries and allowed them to murder at will.

  • Morpheus

    Simply not true tacapall but at least you are one of the few who has admitted that the letters were not amnesty, immunity or GOOJ cards. To this point only Mick has conceded that they were legally sound and non controversial.

    I suggest you reread the Downey Judgement again. The Judge did not proceed with the trial because both the Judge and the prosecution conceded that Downey was ‘misled’ – paragraph 164, sub-section 4 of the Judgement – as a result of an erroneous letter telling him that he was not wanted in the UK when in fact the PSNI were aware that he was – not taking 2 opportunities in 2008 and 2009 to correct the error (see the core facts of the case below, pages 55 and 56). Downey went to the UK after being assured that he was not wanted then arrested when he got there. The Judge felt that this was an abuse of process and halted proceedings. That’s it. It was not that he got a letter it was because he got a letter which contained a very serious mistake.

    As I said before for what you are saying to be true numerous police officers in numerous police forces at varying levels of command would need to in on am scheme to suppress evidence to save a few people the police didn’t even know for crimes they weren’t aware of. That simply does not add up.

    If it was secret the how come the policing board knew about it, the politicians knew about it, the media knew about it, the NI prison Service not only knew about it but actually used it. It must be the world’s worst secret.

    You know people who got these letters do you? Good for you. Go have a word and ask them why they went on the run because I sure as feck don’t know. What I do know is that the police didn’t even want them for questioning never mind arrest. Plus the police didn’t even know who these people were or he crimes that were committed. If you have a problem with that then take it up with ACC Drew Harris.

  • tacapall

    “You know people who got these letters do you? Good for you. Go have a word and ask them why they went on the run because I sure as feck don’t know. What I do know is that the police didn’t even want them for questioning never mind arrest. Plus the police didn’t even know who these people were or he crimes that were committed”

    Why would you believe ACC Drew Harris rather than someone who actually knows some of the people who received the letters, knows for a fact exactly why they were on the run in the first place, knows for a fact that the RUC had in their possession evidence that would have linked some of these people to the crimes that they done a runner out of the six British controlled counties of Ireland for in the first place. If you really are naive than so be it, thats your own cross to bear, but please stop pissing down on us all and telling us its raining.

  • Mc Slaggart

    tacapall

    ” RUC had in their possession evidence that would have linked some of these people to the crimes”

    Did you ever hear UDR men/ladies tell their stories of brave deeds done in the front line with “republicans”?

    It is often not what you did but how you think other perceive you that matters in this case. To be from a specific area could be sufficient to make you a clear suspect in the eyes of the UDR.

  • Morpheus

    ACC Drew Harris any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    Do you seriously expect me to believe someone who uses a fake name on a faceless forum about people they say they know about things they say they did without as much as one iota of evidence to back it up? Seriously? Is that what you are saying? And you have the nerve to call me naive???

    Such colorful language though, Kudos.

  • mac tire

    LOL @ Tacapall. Yes, you know them well alright. Took the time to call this place ” the six British controlled counties of Ireland” yet use the word crime in relation to what you claim know they may have done.

    Something doesn’t sit right there.

    We all should be laughing at the assumption on here that all in receipt of letters were guilty of something. Thank God most of you are not on the jury if I were on trial.

  • tacapall

    “ACC Drew Harris any day of the week and twice on Sundays”

    Thats fine Morpheus I remember a time when Unionists could with confidence say the same about the RUC but we all know different these days.

    “Do you seriously expect me to believe someone who uses a fake name on a faceless forum about people they say they know about things they say they did without as much as one iota of evidence to back it up”

    Why not your already believing the lies being spit out of the mouths of any Tom Dick and Harry that was involved in feathering their own nests.

    Mc Slaggart

    Yeah I know what you mean, I have plenty of friends in Tyrone.

  • Brian Walker

    It’s all too easy – but no doubt emotionally satisfying for some – to demonise the leading politicians and their officials who put the administrative system in place. Cutting a Gordian knot which lesser mortals can’t do and taking the heat for it is one of the things PMs are for ( see Gladstone, Lloyd George etc –) and can only be justified by results. Banging on against them is water off a duck’s back.

    A “get out of jail card” or “just letters?.” A distinction without a difference. The issue here is selective justice which is no justice at all.

    Could we agree that victims remain the losers and that “constructive ambiguity” (my quotation marks) went on for far too long? The Downey case was chosen as the British government’s opportunity to come out, as the Attorney General admitted in the Commons . They decided to prosecute knowing they could not get a conviction but to expose the comfort letters system. Had they decided not to prosecute in such a high profile case the disclosure of the letters procedure would have come out anyway after a damaging hue and cry. Better to fess up when finally you have to.

    The pity of it is that it took an English case full of symbolism only this year rather than any number of earlier NI cases where prosecutions might have brought in similar circumstances with similar results. The authorities clearly felt they didn’t need to volunteer disclosure as there were tacit conspiracies locally in favour of keeping shtum. Remember that full dlsclosure of their own deeds or misdeeds is not in the interest of any of the protagonists however much they campaign for “justice” against the other side.

    No useful result will come from local people tearing lumps out of each other now. What do the outraged critics hope for? Prosecute Tony Blair? Forget it.

    Two things need to happen: one, a disgracefully delayed remedial regime for victims ; and two an end to the deceit of politicians of all parties in pretending that “ justice “ is available for most victims. It is that deceit which prevents putting victims out of that part of their misery which is about the unknown story of what happened to them or their loved ones. The rest of us have a right to know too, Turgon included .

  • tacapall

    Yeah I know where you coming from mac tire you believe your brand of republicanism has a monopoly on the definition of whats right and wrong.

    Is this place not the British controlled six counties of Ireland, Do you support republicans begging for royal prerogative of mercy. Do you support a process that will, when the smoke clears, brush under the carpet all the hopes and wishes of all those families of Irish victims of British criminality.

    Be a good boy and Im sure some of those Shinners at the top will bring you to one of their many various holiday homes and villas, never worked a day in their lives either.

    You can question my republicanism all you like I speak only for myself but dont try and fool me all volunteers in the IRA were in it for Ireland.

  • Morpheus

    “A “get out of jail card” or “just letters?.” A distinction without a difference. The issue here is selective justice which is no justice at all.”

    With respect how can you possibly make that argument Brian? The Ministerial Statement shows the wording and makes it very clear that the letters were not immunity, amnesty or GOOJ cards and to suggest otherwise is doing a injustice to the victims.

    THAT is the issue here.

    It has been portrayed to the general public – including the victims – that these letters were issued as amnesty and that people who have committed terrible crimes were free to come home knowing that they would never face prosecution when that is simply not the case. It should have been made clear that those who got the letters were not wanted for questioning (never mind arrest/charge) at that time but if the recipients were wanted for a crime then there was absolutely nothing at all from stopping the PSNI from investigating and prosecuting if the evidence was there. That would have given the victims the reassurance that they guys are not untouchable and they can still face prosecution.

    By your Attorney General comments are you suggesting that the AG deliberately brought a case to The Old Bailey knowing full well that it would collapse regardless of the impact that it would have on the families of the victims? Maybe you could link us to the AGs comments?

    You seem to miss the point that there would not have been an earlier case in Northern Ireland for the sheer fact that they didn’t have a case to answer at that time – remember they were not even wanted for questioning never mind for a trial. Downey brought this to the fore because his letter contained a mistake which the Judge and prosecution conceded that led to him being ‘misled’ and concluded that this was an abuse of process.

    Two things do need to happen:
    The victims need to be reassured that these guys are not untouchable and were never untouchable – that was nothing but spin
    The public needs to be reassured that the Downey case collapsed because of a mistake in his letter, not because he had one

  • tacapall

    What your suggesting Morpheus is that Sinn Fein, the government, PSNI, Whatever police forces were involved in Britain all went to considerable expense, time and energy to calm the fears of a few hundred walter mittys. Please its getting beyond funny.

    Brian has it spot on, perfedious albion once again stirring the ulster pot for its own selfish reasons.

  • Morpheus

    No, that’s not what I suggested at all. My position has not changed one inch.

    Everyone else is suggesting that there was a secret amnesty deal even though there was no amnesty, it was far from secret and still no one has been able to explain who this ‘deal’ was between and why. One minute it’s between the government and SF, now it looks like it as between the Attorney General, the DPP and SF.

    Others are suggesting that multiple police officers at multiple levels of command in multiple police forces got together to hide evidence for people the police had never heard of and crimes that they didn’t even know were committed. Does that sound plausible?

    It’s a farce. It’s an administration scheme blown out of all proportion for political gain on time for the local and European elections regardless of the consequences to the families of the victims.

  • conman88

    Can everyone agree that the letters, tacit or otherwise, do not amount to an amnesty? If not, can you explain why they do not, using facts as Morpheus has done?

    I would also imagine that the AG brought the case to the courts because he believed that, irrespective of the administrative error, that Judge Sweeney would have proceeded with the case.

  • Pete Rock

    While I’m highly suspicious as to who knew and who didn’t I think it’s worth noting that Gerry Kelly admitted on the Radio Ulster Nolan Show that the OTR scheme had to remain secret for it to succeed.

    Though the SF position is not now in tune with this.

  • Granni Trixie

    Pete
    You at not alone …I think I heard this too. In fact I’d go further …I mentally noted at the time that this was an own goal though subsequently I noticed that he did not mention it.

  • mac tire

    @ Tacapall
    “Yeah I know where you coming from mac tire you believe your brand of republicanism has a monopoly on the definition of whats right and wrong. ”

    No, I don’t.

    “Is this place not the British controlled six counties of Ireland, Do you support republicans begging for royal prerogative of mercy. Do you support a process that will, when the smoke clears, brush under the carpet all the hopes and wishes of all those families of Irish victims of British criminality.

    Be a good boy and Im sure some of those Shinners at the top will bring you to one of their many various holiday homes and villas, never worked a day in their lives either.

    You can question my republicanism all you like I speak only for myself but dont try and fool me all volunteers in the IRA were in it for Ireland.”

    Oh, for God’s sake, behave yourself. So I’m a Sinn Féin supporter now? How so?

    Don’t have a holiday home – but should have. Though I’ll not complain.

    Not trying to question YOU just your choice of words. Your last sentence does not make much sense really.

  • mac tire

    Alright Tacapall, I’ll make it easy for you, since you seem to require that help.

    You mentioned OTR’s as committing crimes.

    Do you stand over that word? That was your word, not mine. That is what I have pulled you up on, especially considering your use of the Occupied Six and all that.

    Those who use Occupied Six don’t use the word crime so easily.

    Time for you to answer. If you truly know it.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Morpheus

    Nice work fightin’ yer corner.

    Go on the boy ye!