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.

14 May 2015
15-Year-Old Caught Driving 96mph On M2
A 15-year-old boy has been caught by the police driving at 96 mph on the M2 motorway on Wednesday. The PSNI road policing unit posted a picture of the speed gun with the caption: "This speed was recorded on the M2 today by Road Policing officers. Driver was just 15 yrs of age." No other information has been released.
12 May 2015
Memorial For Off-Duty Soldier Vandalised In Armagh
A memorial erected for an off-duty soldier killed by the IRA in south Armagh in 1975 has been vandalised. Ulster Unionist Party MLA for Newry and Armagh, Danny Kennedy, has expressed his disgust at the act of vandalism and said it is another "disgraceful attack" against innocent victims of terrorism in south Armagh.
10 April 2015
Man Arrested Following Paramilitary Style Attack
Police have arrested a 33 year old man following a paramilitary style attack in north Belfast on Thursday night. The assault happened in Forthriver Drive at around 10pm. Detective Constable Gareth Hussey said: "The 36 year old victim was set upon by around seven males who forced their way into his home.
26 March 2015
'Gay Cake' Case Comes To Court
The so-called "gay cake" case has got underway at the High Court in Belfast. Ashers Baking Company is facing a discrimination case, brought by the Equality Commission, over its refusal to fulfil a customer's order for a cake featuring a pro-gay marriage slogan.
25 March 2015
Ashers Bakery Supporters Fill Waterfront Hall
More than 2,000 people filled the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on Tuesday night in support of Ashers Baking Company. The bakery is facing legal action over its refusal to fulfil an order for a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan on it.
08 May 2015
Moneyreagh Firm Completes First Export Deal
Moneyreagh engineering design company Northern Innovation has completed its first export deal worth £200,000 supplying its borewell water extraction system to the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) based in Ikeja, Lagos in western Nigeria.
21 April 2015
Other News In Brief
All Ireland Scholarships Scheme Launches The All Ireland Scholarships Scheme for students in Northern Ireland has launched.
21 May 2015
Two Women Arrested Following Drugs Seizure
Two 23 year-old-women have been arrested on suspicion of drugs offences in Newry. Police carried out a planned search of a house in the Richmond Court area on 20 May. A quantity of cash and drugs in tablet, liquid, powder and resin form were seized.
19 May 2015
Two Arrested Over Dissident Republican Activity
Two people have been arrested over dissident republican activity in Newry. A 50-year-old man and a 46-year-old woman were arrested following searches at properties in the area on Tuesday morning. They have been taken to the PSNI Serious Crime Suite for questioning.
15 May 2015
Third Man Arrested Following Death Threat To Football Manager
A third man has been arrested after a threatening letter was sent to Northern Irish football manager. Greater Manchester Police have arrested a 31-year-old man on suspicion of making threats to kill. Darren Kelly, 35, was appointed Oldham Athletic manager on 5 May.
14 May 2015
Man Arrested Following Stabbing Attack In L'Derry
A man has been arrested after a woman was stabbed several times in L'Derry. The woman was assaulted on the Creggan Road on Wednesday. The victim is currently in hospital being treated for a number of stab wounds to her abdomen and bruising to her face, according to the police. Her injuries are not believed to be life threatening.
13 May 2015
Two Men Arrested Over Alleged Death Threats To Darren Kelly
Two men have been arrested over alleged death threats sent to Oldham manager Darren Kelly from Northern Ireland. Greater Manchester Police arrested a 27-year-old man and 42-year-old man on suspicion of making threats to kill. They are being detained by the police for questioning.
11 May 2015
Two Men Arrested Over West Belfast Burglary
Two men have been arrested in connection with a burglary in west Belfast. The men also attempted to attack the occupant in the property in the Forfar Street area on Sunday morning. The pair, who were armed with wheel braces, smashed the front door and windows, and attempted to assault a man.
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.
13 April 2011
Doubts Over 'Libyan IRA Atrocities Deal'
An NI pressure group acting for victims of the Troubles has welcomed news that strife-torn Libya has agreed a deal for victims to be compensated for multiple atrocities carried out by the IRA throughout the UK.