Secretary of State, Peter Hain, maintains that he could not have made any other decision, but by claiming, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph, that he re-released Sean Kelly despite Kelly breaching the terms of his early release licence – a claim that Hain denied the Independent Sentence Review Commission an opportunity to assess – he has arguably undermined his own call to support the rule of law.
In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Hain said: “There was no forward plan to let him out.
“I locked him up because he was breaching his licence. I had a report that arrived in my red box one night from the PSNI and it would have been irresponsible of me not to have acted on that.
“Equally it would have been wrong of me to ignore the fact that the IRA statement was of a historic and completely different kind from anything that had come before and opened up a new era in Northern Ireland, a statement to which he was signed up.
“Given that sequence of events, I don’t think any other Secretary of State could have taken any different decisions.
“Is it the decision I’m most proud of? No, of course not. But given the circumstances I don’t think any of those decisions could have been different.”