Will the OTRs be dealt with, by not being dealt with?

Chris Thornton notes that the issue of On the runs has plagued the process for about five years. Indeed, when the government tried to put through legislation on the matter it was rejected out of hand, even though Peter Hain had appended some taxing conditions of its own. Any comprehensive deal is likely to come at a price, thus the strong denials from Downing Street.Thornton notes:

Just last week, in a written reply to UUP MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, Peter Hain said “we have no plans to bring forward any legislation on ‘on the runs’, or to introduce an amnesty”.

Fair enough. But Mr Hain also repeated that the issue “will need to be addressed at some stage” and pointedly avoided answering part of Lady Hermon’s question about using existing procedures to give OTRs special treatment. One of those existing procedures would be a decision by the Attorney General to drop cases in “the public interest”, just as he did recently with the allegations of bribery in a Saudi arms deal.

Last night the NIO insisted that reports suggesting that would happen are ” entirely incorrect”. They have yet to make it clear how it will be resolved.

However, that NIO Statement does provide some hint at how it might be resolved, by not actually resolving it:

OTR cases are considered by the PPS according to the tests for prosecution. These tests are set out in the statutory code for prosecutors and apply to all cases. Each case is considered individually on the basis of its particular facts and circumstances. There are no exceptions.

Hmmm, that would be the PPS that takes its direction from London then…

The serial collapse of individual cases might just do what the failed ‘deal’ on legislation could not…

Just watch this space…


  • Nevin

    Perhaps the OTRs could be given the same status as the likes of Martin McGuinness: privileged paramilitary with immunity from prosecution?

  • Yokel

    Always thought the obvious thing to do was to let them come back home as long as they don’t make a show of themselves.

    In fact, I was sure that was exactly what was going to happen.

  • heck

    “that would be the PPS that takes its direction from London then”

    could someone tell me how that fits any definition of “the rule of law”?

  • Ulick

    The vast majority of OTRs have been informed that they will not be prosecuted if they return to the north, and many have been back for some time. The sticking point is merely over a few high profile and contentious cases.

  • Greenflag

    Here we go again. The solution is the Unionist whingers and OTR supporters in the face .

    Just suspend this farce of an Assembly for 60 years by which time all of the OTR’s will have moved on even if the whingers left behind in NI are still arguing over themuns .

    I used to think the NI political entity was a House of Cards. It’s becoming plainer every day that it’s a House for Retards 🙁

    The circle can’t be squared . One way for this charade to be seen for what it is would be for SF to end up as the largest party with the Unionist vote being split between the DUP/UUP/Alliance /UKUP/Tories etc etc etc. An unlikely outcome however this time out . If I were an NI Fenian I’d vote SF for that reason alone 🙂

    What a shambles . About the only good that will come of this election is that it will show better than a census how many more Fenians there are than were around the last time and how many fewer Jaffa geriatrics! (now that has a ring to it ). It’ll also show us whether the ‘bored to death’ section of the population is closer to 30% or 40% of the electorate!

    Other than that it will be the same old story !

  • confused

    To Greenflag,

    Do not despair there will be a Unionist Majority for at least 50 years.
    All prods/unionists are vehemently against a UI.
    25% of catholics are in favour of the Union which means you not only have to convince the unionist majority but many catholics as well.
    Furthermore resistance to ui from unionists will be so great your countrymen in the South will have no stomach to take on the majority in NI
    nor could they afford to do so despite the celtic Tiger which in a few generations may be a meewing kitten

  • DJK


    Speak for yourself. As a prod from a unionist background, I am not against a UI, under the right circumstances.

    It really isn’t such a big deal. There is an obvious reasonable case for a single island nation. I believe it would have happened a long time ago if it hadn’t been for that clown Pearce and his fellow arch Catholic nationalists in 1916. Of course that particular act of national destruction has sustained generations of subsequent idiots who loved the image of the blood sacrifice, (generally other peoples blood).

    Anyway, that’s all history now. A UI with close ties to Britain and full respect for our Britishness is soemthing that I for one am willing to discuss, now that the gun has been taken away from my head.

  • confused

    To DJK
    And when do you think you will get full respect for your Britishness?—– don’t hold your breath. History teaches us that Republicans want revenge and surrender from unionists.

  • mickhall


    As you well know there is no rule of law in the six counties, it is a rule of whatever takes the UK Prime ministers fancy. The only real purpose of the northern politicians, beyond giving the six counties a thin veneer of democracy, is to get their requests in to the PM before their competitors.

    Thus we have SF begging the UK PM for amnesty for its OTR, and the Unionist doing much same, although they are demanding a amnesty for crooked, if not murderous members of the security forces. That both sets of politicians are acting on behalf of individuals who have well and truly broken the rule of law, tells us all how they in reality regard this fabled rule of law that drops off their lips so slimily and with such hypocrisy.

  • harpo

    I don’t see that there is an issue with respect to these OTRs.

    The only folks who care are the Provos. The only party that wants something done is them. They want an explicit amnesty to be granted, so that there is no danger of these yoyos ever being picked up and taken through the criminal justice system.

    Screw that.

    I don’t see any explicit amnesty being given to any other set of actual/alleged lawbreakers. I say let the OTRs take their chances like anyone else who could potentially be picked up and charged with something from the past.

    The Provos will never let this drop, but screw them. They are the only ones who claim it is an issue.

    The authorities would be wise to just ignore the Provo whining. Or like the last time they tried to deal with the issue, make the solution an amnesty for everyone.

    The Provos didn’t like that. It showed up their double standard. The OTRs aren’t anyone special.

  • Greenflag


    ‘Do not despair there will be a Unionist Majority for at least 50 years.’

    Well you better start putting a bit of stick about as the Fenians have secretly decided that the only way to a UI is to outbreed the jaffas . Fenian womenfolk will however need some persuasion as I believe their cooperation will be required in this matter. Dying for a United Ireland is all very well but lying down for united Ireland may well prove a bridge too far .

    ‘All prods/unionists are vehemently against a UI.;

    I would agree that all unionists are by definition, but all prods ? surely an exaggeration . I know at least 4 who favour a UI !

    ‘25% of catholics are in favour of the Union which means you not only have to convince the unionist majority but many catholics as well. ‘

    It’s past your bedtime so put away the fairy tales , switch off the light and tomorrow you can carry on with that other old favourite ‘Once upon a time there was a green swan who was really an orange duckling etc

    ‘Furthermore resistance to ui from unionists will be so great’

    The sight of Paisley in Duke of York attire and demeanour marchin yiz all up and down the hills of Ulster will so impress the people of the Irish Republic that funding will be immediately procured from the Republic’s 187 billion euros development plan , so as to keep the Jaffan Army well shod – this strategem which is part of Plan F (assuming A , B C D and E fail) is to be called the Free Shoes from the Free State Border Moving Program . Part 2 of the same plan will supply an individual rowing boat with two oars for each Jaffan who tires of mountain climbing and would rather fight a UI by rowing across Lough Neagh and back again for 40 years or follow whatever orders the Ayatollah of Norn Iron decrees in his final fatah before he replaces JC as the Sun of God !

    ‘nor could they afford to do so despite the celtic Tiger’

    Eh? This matter of buying NI is already underway . You must be in Timbuktu or Missisauga if you haven’t noticed !

    Despair ? Greenflag . Never –

    Nihil illegitimi carborundum is a phrase much used when addressing abrasive bastards such as those who are numerous in that party which is led by a snake oil salesman with a white collar who is a constant reminder that there is no limit to human ignorance especially when it’s preached from a pulpit !

  • heck

    Mick Hall

    I agree-I agree I was being sarcastic.

    I think the problem with SF is that they caved into the demands from the Brits and unionists that they support “policing”. I just didn’t, and don’t, get it. Saddam Hussein had policing (and a lot of Iraqi’s want it back!!), the Nazi’s had very efficient policing. There was even effective policing in places like S. Armagh and Tyrone. Policing is not the issue.

    Had SF demanded a “rule of law” instead of rolling over and backing “policing” then I would have supported them. “The rule of law” constrains the government not the governed. “The rule of law” has never existed in Nor Iron and does not exist in Britain. Ignoring our own little difficulties the BAE scandal should convince anyone of that.

    “The rule of law” would mean that when Ingram’s buddies break in somewhere and plant a listening device without a court approved warrant they would be charged with burglary. His buddy “Fulton” and his boss Kerr would be charged with murder along with their superiors. The prosecution service would not be able to drop a prosecution “in the public interest” after a phone call from some faceless spook in London. The “public interest” would be weighed in open court by a judge AND JURY.

    If the government wanted to give amnesty to OTRs (and I think they should) then they should do it after a debate and vote. Given that the parliamentary Labour party are a spineless bunch of lackeys Hain could get that done if he wanted. The way this post suggest it is being done should illustrate to unionists that “the rule of law” does not exist in Nor Iron

  • aquifer

    The rule of law held for the most part. i.e. The revolutionary strategy of provoking the state into repressive and counterproductive countermeasures failed. The state’s response to the murderous assault of the irish separatist gangs was proportionate and humane.

    By the end it was clear that the state was not the problem, and that community division had to be addressed by political means.

    Revolutionary gangs could not and should not be trusted with the future of any population. The methods deployed during the insurgency, and the human values that licensed them, would quickly have degenerated into factionalism and repression after any ‘victory’.

    Witness the current factionalism over issues that were already covered or implied in the negotiated 1998 settlement.

    i.e. There is no point in negotiating with an armed gang, because you will face a different one tomorrow.

    The democratic route is and was the only viable one.

  • Mayoman

    Which type of “democratic route” are you talking about there aquifer? The route that divides a country against the will of the massive majority of its citizens and creates a corrupt artificial majority? The route that when in power uses gerrymandering to maintain inappropriate power (oh, and of course, you’re not allowed to protest about this, or you get molested/battered/killed)? The route that deems unionists unfit/unable/too stupid to govern under the norms of majoritarian democracy?

    Secondly, what was ‘humane’ and ‘proportionate’ about the murder of the Miami showband members, or the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, or any other of the atrocities carried out by the RUC/BA/SB/UVF/UDA axis?

    “The methods deployed during the insurgency, and the human values that licensed them, would quickly have degenerated into factionalism and repression after any ‘victory’”

    Does this explain the madness of unionist rule post-partition???

    Jesus, where do unionist apologists get off – consequence of living such a sheltered life? Aquifer, you need to get out of your bunker!

  • I Wonder

    “a corrupt artificial majority”

    Anything to dehmanise from the safety of Ballina, huh…?

  • Mayoman

    You don;t have to be in Ballina to see it was corrupt, a martian could see it. But, do I detect a little more sectarian “you’re from the south therefore you have no right to an opionion”? Keep proving the prejudices why don;t you!