On the Runs… July 17, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland.
The reporting on the On-the-runs in the Irish Times is curious. In this piece from today on the latest news that
In a keenly-anticipated report, Lady Justice Hallett found that the scheme used was “unprecedented and flawed”, but that it was not unlawful or improper.
There is the following:
The on-the-runs emerged into public view earlier this year after an Old Bailey judge ruled that John Downey could not be prosecuted for the 1982 Hyde Park bombing because he had been given one of the letters.
However, today’s report has found that Downey was not the only individual to have received letters of comfort — a fact that will be seized upon by Unionists.
How is that ‘a fact that will be seized upon by Unionists’ – at least in the sense that it was a fact that is new? In February there was this in the Guardian which detailed that potentially 190 odd former IRA members might be covered by it.
But to be honest the entire discussion around the O-T-R’s has been disingenuous at best and downright dishonest in reality. For example, the continued rhetoric that the scheme wasn’t known about by some politicians is bizarre.
Other political parties told the investigation they were unaware of the scheme.
But Hallett notes: “There were sufficient references to the overall scheme … to put an astute observer on the alert, notwithstanding the replies to the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson, and Lady Hermon by Peter Hain MP [then Northern Ireland secretary]“.
There surely were, not least this:
The report has a lengthy annex detailing the scores of occasions when the on-the-runs scheme was publicly referred to in the media or during parliamentary debates. On May 7th, 2002, it notes that the Rev Ian Paisley, the DUP leader, told the Northern Ireland assembly: “The union flag is banned from government buildings for most of the year. Security installations have been removed, on-the-run terrorist have been pardoned and there has been discrimination against victims in funding.“
I used to joke in the mid to late 2000s about the string of garages with On The Run shops in them. If I could make that joke, and I’m literally nobody, how it could pass Peter Robinson or David Ford by is remarkable…