Sinn Fein refuse to give evidence to MPs' committee over OTR letters

Sinn Fein refuse to give evidence to MPs' committee over OTR letters

SINN FEIN has said it will not give evidence before a Westminster committee investigating amnesty letters sent to on-the-run republicans.

Martin McGuinness said that, although the party had nothing to hide, party officials would decline invitations to attend a Northern Ireland select committee hearing in London this week.

The committee is probing revelations made earlier this year that three British governments since 2001 provided 228 IRA on-the-runs with letters stating they were no longer wanted for past crimes.

Westminster and Sinn Fein have come under fire from Northern Ireland’s four other political parties who have accused them of keeping the deal secret.

A separate inquiry has been ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron and is due to report later this summer.

The inquiry will be led by Lady Justice Heather Hallett and was called after the collapse of a case against an Irishman accused of the IRA’s Hyde Park bomb, which killed four soldiers in 1982.

The prosecution of John Downey, 62, from Co Donegal, was halted when it emerged he was wrongly sent a letter of assurance informing him the authorities in Britain were not looking for him.

Downey had been pursued by police in London and had denied the murder of the four soldiers.

Mr McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister, said: “Sinn Fein has clearly outlined our position on the issue of on-the-runs and despite claims to the contrary, neither this process, nor the agreements on which it was based, were secret or hidden.

“However, in the interests of transparency and in an attempt to minimise the damage to the peace process from a growing public controversy, Sinn Fein agreed to participate fully and willingly in the Hallett Review.

“To that end our party president Gerry Adams, (Sinn Fein national executive member) Gerry Kelly and myself met with the Hallett Review team earlier this week and put Sinn Fein’s position on this and other legacy issues on the record.” We see no point therefore in Gerry Kelly attending the Westminster committee.”