OTR letter omitted original mention of live suspect status in post GFA murder…

So here, to re-iterate to those not following what is controversial and what is not controversial about the OTR letter issue here is a case which aptly demonstrates the former. There’s added interest in this case since it involves the murder of someone which took place in the post GFA period, that of Gareth O’Connor..

The PSNI mistakenly gave an on-the-run (OTR) letter to the man whom the inquest was told is the main suspect in the O’Connor murder.

It also emerged at the inquest on Monday that it was Sinn Féin junior minister at Stormont and IRA Old Bailey bomber Gerry Kelly who eventually passed the letter to the individual who has been identified as the main suspect in the killing of the County Armagh man.

It was one of 200 letters of assurance given to wanted IRA members as part of a deal between Tony Blair’s government and Sinn Féin during negotiations aimed at securing IRA decommissioning, republican support for new policing reforms and the restoration of devolution.

Northern Ireland’s senior coroner, John Leckey, on Monday described Gerry Kelly’s role in the case as a “matter of public concern”.

It continues…

Speaking outside the inquest, the solicitor for the O’Connor family, Paul Dougan, said: “Some quite startling revelations have emerged today, in particular the existence of an on-the-run letter and the reasons why the existence of that letter has prevented the inquest starting this morning.

“The concern that I have from the family’s perspective is that from late June, or the publication of this report [by Lady Justice Heather Hallett into the on-the-runs issue] on 17 July of 2014 that this information was known to the authorities.

“It was known both to the Northern Ireland Office who issued this letter and it was known to the police.

“And yet the coroner only became aware of it by lunchtime on Friday and the family only became aware of it through myself late on Friday evening. That to me is the most alarming aspect of these developments today.”

A lawyer representing the PSNI said the organisation apologised unreservedly for the “upset and distress” the timing of the disclosure may have caused the O’Connor family, who were preparing to sit through a week-long inquest.

“This should not have happened,” he said.

The BBC identifies the nature of the mistake identified by Lady Justice Hallett, but not previously disclosed to the Coroner…

Her report said Operation Rapid – the PSNI team tasked with assessing the OTR cases – had reviewed an individual “linked to two terrorism offences in the 1970s, as well as serious offences in 2003”.

A letter from Det Ch Supt Norman Baxter to ACC Peter Sheridan made a “somewhat ambiguous reference to the 2003 offence”, but then stated there was no basis to seek the person’s arrest for any offence prior to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the report said.

The judge said a subsequent letter signed by ACC Sheridan to the Public Prosecution Service “did not contain the caveat in relation to the agreement and simply stated, ‘enquiries indicate that XXXX is not currently wanted by PSNI’.”

Well, there’s another inquest stopped in its tracks. [Someone inadvertently availing of Gerry’s public interest argument again? – Ed]. You might say that, I couldn’t possibly comment.


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  • Morpheus

    You have my sympathies

  • Cue Bono

    You have mine.

  • kalista63

    How many deaths is he responsible for?

  • kalista63

    Next stage after this is usually, your ma

  • Glenn Clare

    It was interesting listening to Gareth O’Connor’s father in radio Ulster yesterday, and how he and his family were treated at the hands of Gerry Kelly, and untimely Sinn Fein/IRA.

    When you add to that Kelly’s statement’s which were like Adams statements, and time lines on his paedophile Sinn Fein/IRA brother. Which was replicated during the Maria Cahill’s child sexual abuse case and internal Sinn Fein/IRA investigation. The statements where all over the place and contradicted themselves.

    Firstly Kelly, claimed that he did not know the name of the applicant requesting an on the run letter. He then went on to say in another statement, that he said he asked for 4 piece’s of information? The first was the name of the on the run applicant.

    So what is it, did he know or were these anonymous applications and are we expected to swallow that Sinn Fein/IRA did not help the applicant complete or formulate the letters.

    This is again Sinn Fein/IRA treating everyone but their sycophant followers with disrespect.

    But lets move on, all this really doesn’t fit in with Adams “bastard” remark’s, and his Fermanagh Trojan horse? Or maybe they do as they don’t apply to Sinn Fein/IRA just Unionists.

    Did the O’Conner’s or other Sinn Fein/IRA post GFA victims get equality or to quote Adams TD directly, “Who could be afraid of equality? Who could be afraid of treating somebody the way you want to be treated”?

    This is what the leader of the republican movement Mr Adams TD demands of Unionists, yet he would deny the very same to his fellow republicans. Republicans who come into contact or conflict with Sinn Fein/IRA.

    In fact just this weekend Kelly demanded that people should respect those who vote for Sinn Fein/IRA. Interesting when they themselves are quite adept to deny respect and equality to members of the republican community when they have a disagreement with Sinn Fein/IRA.

    It must be obvious to everyone even the must ardent republican, that no one including republicans they will ever get justice, equality or respect from Sinn Fein/IRA.

    Republicans should be asking the question when are they going to start to treat people with the equality and respect they demand of Unionists?

    People like the O’Connor’s, the McCartney sisters, the Quinn family and the mother of Andrew Kearney all victims of Sinn Fein/IRA murders, cover-ups and a campaign’s of intimidation.





  • IRF

    Well there’s a connection in so far as RIRA emerged from the ranks of PIRA. So someone who was a member of PIRA in the Seventies could have gone on to join RIRA, but still sought a ‘letter of comfort’ in relation to earlier offences committed in the 70’s whilst they were a Provo. But it seems a bit far-fetched and the Gerry McGough case suggests that once you fall out with the Provos, you’re off Gerry Kelly’s Christmas card list. (Kelly never passed on McGough’s ‘letter of discomfort’.)
    Anyway, all the news articles from the time (2003 when O’Connor disappeared; 2005 when his body was found) are full of accusations that the Provos did it.

  • IRF

    “Firstly Kelly, claimed that he did not know the name of the applicant requesting an on the run letter. He then went on to say in another statement, that he said he asked for 4 piece’s of information? The first was the name of the on the run applicant.
    So what is it, did he know or were these anonymous applications and are we expected to swallow that Sinn Fein/IRA did not help the applicant complete or formulate the letters.”
    What he’s saying is that he submitted applications on behalf of dozens if not hundreds of people who wanted letters of comfort in relation to pre-GFA offences, so he doesn’t know which one of those many individuals is the one that the PSNI have identified as a suspect in the O’Connor killing which isn’t covered by the scheme.

  • Glenn Clare

    What he is saying is that he knew who was asking for letters. Then as part of this murder and the subsequent inquest his further statements changed trying to distance himself and Sinn Fein/IRA.

    I would suggest that he and Sinn Fein/IRA knew full well who was applying for letters and I would go further and suggest that they were actively assisting those requesting a comfort letter.


    The issues is still not answered when are Sinn Fein/IRA going to give their victims the equality, respect and justice they demand of others.

  • IRF

    Of course he knew who was appying for letters, but how is he supposed to identify which one of the hundreds of names he passed on, is the one that the PSNI have in the frame for O’Connor?

  • Glenn Clare

    I am not questioning that, the point I am making is that he changed his statements just like Adams, he was trying to distance himself from the incident.

    When you listen to Mr O’Connors interview on talkback he stated that he met with the IRA, and there’s me thinking they did not exist (well not really). Mr O’Connor said that during his meeting with the IRA they were fully briefed as to his meetings with Gerry Kelly.

    Was Kelly in contact with the IRA??? Is this a matter for the PSNI, and if not why not.

  • Cue Bono

    Do you have any links to those articles, because my clear recollection is that it was an internal RIRA murder. If it was indeed the Provos then the scandal is that they have been getting off with post 98 murders as well as their pre GFA amnesty. Basically a license to murder, or house clean as the delightful Mowlam put it..

  • Cue Bono

    So many murders, so many murderers, so much blood. How indeed could he be expected to remember which murderer he was talking about when he is so swimming through so much sewage.

  • barnshee

    When you can provide evidence that anyone got up in the morning with a premeditated plan to murder they should go away for a very long time

  • barnshee

    Can`t have it thousands in the Republican community would go behind bars The jails don`t have the room