26/02/2014

NI Police Federation 'Appalled' By Hyde Park Deal

Terry Spence, the Chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland has criticised the "grubby, secret deal" the UK Government agreed with "on-the-run" IRA members.

The comments come after it was revealed on Tuesday that a case against a Co Donegal man, accused of carrying out the 1982 Hyde Park bombing in London, had collapsed when a judge at the Old Bailey decided to throw out the case.

John Downey had been charged with the murders of four soldiers who had died in the attack. The 62-year-old was arrested at Gatwick Airport last year and was detained as his name appeared on the UK's most wanted list. Yesterday, however, it emerged that in 2007 - despite an outstanding warrant - that Mr Downey had been granted an immunity deal to help secure IRA decommissioning.

Commenting on the revelation, Mr Spence described the agreement as a "grubby, secret deal", adding: "This is sickening, and I know that it will re-open old wounds for scores of heartbroken families. None of us know of the existence of this Administrative Scheme or what it entailed or the number of OTRs involved.

"I am angry, disappointed and feel betrayed. Those involved in this skulduggery should hang their heads in shame. When were they going to tell us about it, and why did it take a mistake exposed at the Old Bailey to shine a spotlight on this sorry mess?"

In a statement, the families of those killed in the bombing said they were devastated by the development, while Chief Constable Matt Baggott said the police accepts "full responsibility" for the failures.

The agreement has also caused a row at Stormont among Northern Ireland's politicians.

Earlier on Wednesday, DUP MLA Peter Robinson described it as "an outrage and a dark day for justice", adding that justice should not "have a sell-by date". However, it has since been revealed that he has now threatened to quit his role as First Minister unless a judicial review is carried out into the matter.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Robinson said he would not be prepared to remain in his post after he was "kept in the dark" regarding the issue.

UUP Justice spokesman Tom Elliott added that the immunity assurances handed out are "a disgrace", while Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams TD welcomed court's decision, insisting that Downey "should never have been arrested and this has been vindicated by the court decision".

Also commenting on the controversy, Prime Minister David Cameron described the collapse of Mr Downey's case as a "dreadful mistake".

He admitted to MPs: "We should be absolutely clear. The man should never have received the letter that he received, Downey.

"It was a dreadful mistake and mistake that we now need to have a rapid factual review to make sure that this cannot happen again.

"But whatever happens we have to stick to the principle that we are a country and a government under the rule of law."

He added that it was "absolutely shocking" that the accused was not going to be tried for the Hyde Park bombing which killed four soldiers.

"I completely understand the depth of anger and concern that people will feel right across this country about the appalling events that happened in 1982 and the fact the person responsible is now not going to be appropriately tried," he continued.

In addition to Mr Downey, it was revealed that another 186 people received letters telling them they would not face arrest and prosecution for IRA crimes. Downey, had been convicted of IRA membership in the 1970s, but had denied murdering the soldiers and conspiring to cause an explosion.

(JP/MH)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

03 September 2015
Man Arrested Over Shooting In L'Derry
Gardai have arrested a man in Donegal in connection with a shooting at a wedding reception in L'Derry. The shooting happened at Rafters bar and restaurant in the Northland Road area at around 8.30pm on Wednesday. The man was treated for a hand injury at hospital and has since been discharged.
02 September 2015
Man Arrested By Police Investigating Murder Of Kevin McGuigan
A man has been arrested in connection with the murder of Kevin McGuigan in August. The 41-year-old is the 12th person to be arrested by police investigating the murder. Mr McGuigan, 53, was shot dead outside his home in the Short Strand area.
02 September 2015
Paul McCauley Murder - Woman Arrested
A 25-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of withholding information in connection with the murder of Paul McCauley. Police made the arrest in L'Derry on Wednesday morning. Mr McCauley, 38, died last month in a care facility almost nine years after an attack in July 2006.
10 August 2015
Jennifer Dornan Suspect Arrested In Co Donegal
A man arrested by Irish police in Bundoran, County Donegal, is believed to be a suspect in the murder of Jennifer Dornan. It is understood that the 37-year-old man was arrested on Friday on another matter.
10 August 2015
Man Arrested For Carrying Samurai Sword
A man carrying a samurai sword in Belfast city centre was Tasered by police in the early hours of Sunday morning. It is understood that police received reports about the man at about 1am on Sunday. Police are said to have used a Taser on the man on Calendar Street before arresting him.
03 August 2015
Two Arrested In Connection With Stabbing Attack
Two men have been arrested in connection with a stabbing attack in Portrush. Two men are currently being treated in hospital following the incident in the Glenmanus Park area on Monday. Their injuries are not believed to be life threatening. Police arrested two men, aged 20 and 27, on suspicion of aggravated burglary.
30 July 2015
Two More Arrested Over Murder Of Paul McCauley
Two more men have been arrested in connection with the murder of Paul McCauley in L'Derry in 2006. A 46-year-old was arrested in the Fountain area and a 27-year-old was arrested in the Waterside area on Thursday. A property is also being searched in the Waterside.
01 September 2015
Two Arrested Over Stabbing Attack In West Belfast
Two people have been arrested in connection with a stabbing attack in west Belfast. The incident happened in the Cloona Manor area at around 2am on Monday. Two women, one in her thirties and one in her fifties, were both stabbed and taken to hospital for treatment. Their injuries are not believed to be life threatening.
28 August 2015
Man Arrested Over Murder Of Gerard 'Jock' Davison
A 25-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the murder of Gerard 'Jock' Davison. Mr Davison, a former IRA commander, was shot and killed in the Markets areas of Belfast on Tuesday, 05 May. The man has been taken to the Antrim Serious Crime Suite for questioning. He is the fourth person to be arrested as part of the overall investigation.
10 August 2015
61-Year-Old Needs 30 Stitches Following Attack On Bus
A 61-year-old woman required 30 stitches to her face after being hit by a brick when a bus she was travelling in was attacked in Dungiven. The woman lost five teeth in the attack, which also injured four others, when the coach was attacked on Saturday.
26 August 2015
UUP Intends To Withdraw From NI Executive - Nesbitt
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) has been recommended to withdraw from the NI Executive over recent claims that the Provisional IRA still exists. UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt said Sinn Féin has "no credibility" and the UUP has "no trust" in the party.
24 August 2015
Adams Denies IRA Were Involved In East Belfast Killings
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has denied the IRA were involved in the killings of Jock Davision and Kevin McGuigan. Mr McGuigan was fatally shot on 12 August outside his home in the Short Strand area of east Belfast, in what is believed to have been retaliation for the murder of Gerard 'Jock' Davison in May. Mr Adams said: "The war is over.
22 July 2015
Call For Action Plan To Be Implemented To Deal With Hospital Waiting Lists
Sinn Féin is calling for an action plan to be implemented to deal with hospital waiting lists in Northern Ireland. Chair of the Assembly's health committee, MLA Maeve McLaughlin, said the rise in waiting times is "not acceptable" for patients.
09 July 2015
PSNI To Launch Investigation Over NAMA Deal
The PSNI are to launch a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the sale of NAMA property to investment company Cerberus. Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: "We believe that there is sufficient concern in relation to potential criminal activity, surrounding this property deal, to instigate an investigation.
17 July 2014
OTR Letters 'Not An Amnesty'
'On the Run' letters sent to wanted republican terrorist suspects did not amount to an amnesty, a judge has found. Lady Justice Hallett has completed a review, ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron, on the so-called 'On the Run' letters.