OTR legislation could release hundreds from criminal prosecution

Chris Thorton examines the scope of the proposed legislation to allow ‘on the runs’ to come home without prosecution (thought to number some sixty persons). In addition there is thought to be potential for hundreds of others to escape serious investigation if a ten year rule is enacted: “Last week Mr Hain first suggested a link between the OTRs legislation and the PSNI’s historic cases review, saying it ‘could be that people facing historic crimes could take advantage of the OTRs process’.”

  • Betty Boo

    “Take the issue of on-the-run terrorists (OTRs). On April 1, 2003, as an annex to a joint declaration, the British and Irish governments set out their plans to let OTRs return home without facing imprisonment.

    It clearly stated that the provisions would extend to people who supported paramilitary groups who were on ceasefire and would cover all offences committed on behalf of those organisations before the signing of the Good Friday agreement. Those who benefited would have findings of guilt recorded against them but would be released on licence without serving a prison sentence. The governments stated that these provisions would come into force for republicans once the IRA had disarmed and ceased all violent activity.”
    Liam Clarke’s article
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-1507-1849228-3048,00.html

  • JD

    The SDLP are faffing about in effort to give themselves some sense of relavance to these issues. Their absolute paranoia about CRJI schemes in a case in point. Mark should have more to say about the hundreds of cases of state involvement in killings, for which, no one was ever charged or indeed even investigated. Where as IRA volunteers went on the run, British soldiers recieved medals.

  • Dick Doggins

    Is this Durkins new tactic to stop the Sdlp imploding, become the New DUP, outdo the DUP, copy the DUP in demonising anything remotely Nationalist of tainted with SF?

  • Dick Doggins

    Is this Durkins new tactic to stop the Sdlp imploding, become the New DUP, outdo the DUP, copy the DUP in demonising anything remotely Nationalist or tainted with SF?

  • No Dick,

    It’s about making sure that people don’t get away with killing people without facing justice. It’s a fairly basic democratic standard that those who kills is held to account.

    With the notable silence from Spin Féin when it comes to their cronies facing up to their actions, the SDLP needs to be the voice of reason for democratic nationalism.

    Saoirse, Siocháin agus Ceart? Doesn’t really mean anything when you only want justice when it suits.

  • Pat Joe

    The above poster is correct. What about the state soilders and RUC ? They were given medals for killing people. If it is time to move on then OTR’s must be allowed back to a great welcome and failte.

  • Sorry i forgot to provide this link.

    http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/1922/

  • Bogexile

    ‘then OTR’s must be allowed back to a great welcome and failte.’

    What a revolting sentiment – those responsible for almost incomprehensible cruelty to be celebrated. Well done for confirming once again that Republicans is intellectually and morally incapable of empathising with those victimised by republican terrorism.

    Durkan’s statement is very welcome. Most decent-minded people would agree that at the very least, OTRs must renounce violence and go through a legal process where their guilt or innocence can be established and victims have a say on the impact to them.

    Or is it more appropriate to raise a glass to the ‘hero’ hiding in the hedgerows following an active service operation to murder people on their doorsteps in front of their children.

    Unbelievable. Are there any nationalists left in the house who have the gumption to reject this nauseating agit-prop?

  • Zorro

    As always, another common sense response from the SDLP on the issue of OTRs.

    This is clearly evident from the considerable amount of pro SF spin on the matter directed at the SDLP. JD and Doggins would do well to note what Hermann Goering is noted as saying…

    the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for”

    JD and Doggins, who’s been talking to you?

  • JD

    No one has been talking to me Zorro, I think for myself.

    The legislation on OTR is a natural outworking of the early release scheme agreed in the GFA. In other words that this was a political conflict and these were political prisoners who should be released at the end of that conflict. Likewise OTRs should be allowed to return home. This undoubtedly has emotional implications for victims, however my point was, that there were many victims here some of whom will never see the killers of their relatives held to account, indeed they have since been promoted and rewarded for their roles in the conflict here. So moral outrage from unionists, once again, only pertains to certain victims.

  • Bogexile

    moral outrage from unionists, once again, only pertains to certain victims.

    I’m outraged by anyone who takes the life of an innocent person from whatever community, whether they are in uniform or scuttling around in the dark.

    However, to stretch the definition of ‘innocence’ to include terrorists killed in the commission of terrorist acts would be ludicrous in any arena outside our own warped little apocalypse theme park.

    There certainly is a hierarchy of victims. The feelings and needs of the vast majority of Trobles victims – innocent Catholic and Protestant civilians and security forces who suffered during our vicious, grubby little sectariam bunfight far, far outweigh the importance of those left behind whose relatives deliberately set out to kill and maim.

    Pain, grief and misery do not respect political ideologies – I can see that. But for our purposes, I’m quite comfortable with the view that ‘all victims are equal but some are more equal than others.’

  • Dick Doggins

    I am not a SF supporter my dear friends quite the contrary. I only comment on what I see. All I see at the present moment is the sdlp in an another anti-SF crusade in the vain attempt that it somehow saves it from electoral melt down.

    I find it starnge on the issue of CRJ`s that Attwood has refused to meet with or discuss with the group in his area, why? Surely talking to this group could only allay the fears on both sides and clear any misunderstanding and stop all the innuendo.

    Or does it only prove that the sdlp`s agenda now is to be anti anything that smacks of SF!!!

  • JD

    Republicans viewed this conflict as a war, therefore combatants or participants should not viewed in the same light as innocent casaulties of that war. Therfore IRA volunteers, British soldiers, RUC and UDR men and loyalist paramilitaries were not innocent victims. However non-combatants on all sides must be viewed equally, the innocent bystander killed by an IRA bomb, the same as the catholic mother shot dead by a British soldier in her backyard. However in the eyes of many unionists this is not the case.

  • Bogexile

    ‘Republicans viewed this conflict as a war’

    Through almost impenetrably green tinted glasses then.

    Did they observe the widely accepted conventions of war? Did they engage the enemy in uniform? Did they apply the Geneva convention to those enemy combatants unfortunate to fall into their grasp? (I’m looking but failing to see where there is provision in the Convention for totruring and murdering captured people and then booby-trapping their bodies. Perhaps it’s in the same clause as using human beings chained to huge bombs)

    Don’t make me boke – the ‘war’ label is totally deluded self-justification for grotesque cruelty. You’ll be saying that Loyalist para-spides were soldiers next.

  • Betty Boo

    JD,

    I think the problem lies with an uncertainty so far of this legislation. Maybe someone knows more.
    But from what I can see it looks like the OTRs are all republicans roughly sixty of them, there will be some sort of court where they admit their guild. If they do so within a year they’ll get an amnesty, if they don’t they will be prosecuted.
    What leaves a lot of questions.

  • Zorro

    Doggins who are you trying to convince? Your attempt to distance yourself from the SF spin with a ”It wasn’t me guv! I only say wot I see” styled response is, in no way, convincing. If it has four legs, barks an wags its’ tail an’ all that… Your reference to the SDLP on an another anti-SF crusade in the vain attempt that it somehow saves it from electoral melt down goes someway to prove this point.

    Doggins, whether you like it or not there is a strong Nationalist vote out there which could never support SF in any guise, CRJs or otherwise.

  • Pat Joe

    It doesn’t matter anyway. The OTR’s are welcome in the South. It is a hard pill to swallow for some people. But war is war. We have to move on with this rebuilding process. We have to move on to reunification of the Irish people and this will be a welcome step to reconciliation on the Island.

  • Bogexile

    ‘It doesn’t matter anyway. The OTR’s are welcome in the South’

    Who are you speaking on behalf of? Not the very large constituency of nationalists in the south who think your half-baked fascist fellow travellers have set back the cause of an agreed Ireland by a generation!

  • Sean O’

    Fully agree with comments made by Zorro and Bogexile.

    It’s taken a long time for the Provos to realise they were wrong and self-defeating. They will never admit to backtracking and taking up the position held, for so long, by the SDLP but history will tell that story.

    I know quite a few SF supporters and it’s obvious they really do believe their own hype… Could this be their ultimate downfall?

  • Dick Doggins

    Zorro sorry if my observations seem to have annoyed your thought processes.
    Personal attack just highlights the path of the foolhardy and ignorant.

    As to my point about the sdlp, the dogs on the street know that they are battling for their very existence and they are trying again to portray themselves as a greener than green Nationalist party in an attempt to outdo SF.

    “Doggins, whether you like it or not there is a strong Nationalist vote out there which could never support SF in any guise, CRJs or otherwise.”

    Going by all previous elections were the Sdlp`s vote has never held and has continued to dwindle, this is yet to be proved, allied with the IRA`s disbandment who knows what effect this will have on those remaining Sdlp supporters.

    Time will tell.

  • TroyZ

    half-baked fascist fellow travellers

    Has the sdlp mask now slipped???

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Any amnesty for OTRs would be a complete and utter disgrace. It would be demoralising for the Unionist and Loyalist community, who view the fact that it is even being considered as a sop to republicanism.

    Most importantly however, it would be a slap in the face for the victims who were left behind when republicans decided the time was right to murder or maim their innocent loved ones.

  • Pat Joe

    Is it not true that a fair lot of OTR’s live in the south anyway and the Gardai turn a blind eye. In the south i would guess the vast bulk of people would not give a fiddlers. Unless they were the real scum of Fine Gael and Labour who would sell their mothers for a few sliver coins.

  • Pat Joe

    An agreed Ireland, as long as certain people agree to take Irish language and dancing lesions. Laugh at the D’unbelievables , kilnaskulley play GAA and send English tourists in the wrong direction 🙂

  • “All I see at the present moment is the sdlp in an another anti-SF crusade”

    “they are battling for their very existence and they are trying again to portray themselves as a greener than green Nationalist party in an attempt to outdo SF.”

    All I see at the present moment is Dick Doggins clutching at straws and using contradictory arguments to undermine the SDLP at every turn.

    You say “the sdlp`s agenda now is to be anti anything that smacks of SF!!!” (which presumably means they are anti-united Ireland) yet you also say they are trying to be greener than green. Make up your mind!

    Could it be that the SDLP actually just believes in what it is saying? Note to Dick (how appropriate a name): the world doesn’t revolve around Spin Féin (much as they’d like it to).

  • Bogexile

    ‘dancing lesions’

    Sounds painful. Not for me, I’m using far too much chafing powder as it is…

  • Ian

    Concerned Loyalist

    What about the innocent Protestant victims, butchered and murdered by the UVF?

    What about their loved ones?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Most importantly however, it would be a slap in the face for the victims who were left behind when republicans decided the time was right to murder or maim their innocent loved ones.

    Excellent point, concerned loyalist. I suggest that all of those released from prison a few years ago under the GFA should be sent back to jail. What do you think ? After all it’s the victims that count here.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    El Matador: “It’s about making sure that people don’t get away with killing people without facing justice. It’s a fairly basic democratic standard that those who kills is held to account.”

    And we’ll have an open, honest and public airing of British involvement in the Finucane slaying when?? I mean, the UK being a democracy and all…

  • TAFKABO

    I think amnesties for OTRs are just another bitter pill that we all have to swallow, in the interests of the greater good.However, it will help the situation immensely if Sinn Fein and the broad republican family do not enage in triumphalism over the issue.

    A heroes welcome for anyone will only pour salt into the wounds of people who have been bereaved.Sinn Fein have a chance to show that they are serious about making peace with their neighbours.I hope they grasp the opportunity.

  • mick hall

    It is a pity we have been unable on this thread to get beyond the sectarian or political divide. I find it worrying that the legislation on OTR seems to be linked with cold cases or am I mistaken here. If not, would this not mean any investigation to State collusion, out of which conspiracy to murder charges could arise will now never reach court. As any current or former members of Army Intel, Special Branch or MI5 would if charged immediately claim an amnesty.

    Is this the deal which has been done between SF and the Blair Government on OTR? or is it the British trying to pull a fast one. Basically the aforementioned is what happened in South Africa where former members of Boss were given amnesty if the admitted their guilt, [i.e. being involved in unlawful acts].

    Mick

  • Chico

    El matador dosen’t agree with killing but calls himself “the killer” what a confused individual he is.
    The dirty “war” is apparently over and hopefully the killing and the other evil deeds. But the conflict is not resolved and until is it no-one will give ground to the other; hence all the pointless slugging and moralising. Does it let off steam, blow the relief valve, get it off the chest perhaps – maybe, for the harmless folk, but not for the killers; they’re psychopaths and fanatics – microcephalics who have no conception of pragmatic accomodation, of balancing desires with realities. No Truth and Reconciliation Commission for them, until the conflict is finally resolved in favour of the victor; and then the cowards might run for amnesty to save their own hides. Until then they’ll be ready to do it again.
    Bringing them to trial, apportioning blame won’t work in NI as it didn’t in Chile; they don’t need to justify their actions and seek forgiveness. Years later “los matadores” haven’t revealed their crimes here nor there. Rather let them slink off to their to their dark holes, imprisoned in their ruined lives and damned souls; we’re well rid of them and that’s enough for most decent folk.

  • Bazoo

    “The OTR’s are welcome in the South.”

    Possibly the best argument against a united Ireland I’ve come across. After all, why should people in Northern Ireland unite with a state that gives sanctuary to those who murder and maim here?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    quite agree but this goes way beyond victims and to what kind of society we want to live in