Bookmark and Share
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.

09 February 2017
Two Men Arrested After Police Seize Drugs In Belfast
Two men, aged 28 and 31, have been arrested after police seized suspected herbal cannabis and cocaine in Belfast on Wednesday, 08 February. Detectives stopped a car in the Duncrue Street area at around 8.15pm. Police seized the vehicle as well as the drugs, which are believed to be worth a substantial amount.
01 February 2017
Woman Arrested Over Attempted Murder Of Police Officers Released
A 20-year-old woman arrested in connection with the attempted murder of police officers in west Belfast in 2015 has been released unconditionally. Up to eight shots were fired at a parked PSNI car in the Rossnareen Avenue area in Andersonstown on 26 November.
31 January 2017
Woman Arrested Over Attempted Murder Of Police Officers
A 20-year-old woman has been arrested in connection the the attempted murder of police officers in 2015. Up to eight shots were fired at a parked police vehicle in Rossnareen Avenue in west Belfast on 26 November. Two male officers who were in the car at the time were not injured, however they were left badly shaken.
27 January 2017
Two Men Arrested Over Bomb Found In West Belfast Released
Two men arrested in connection with a bomb found during a security alert in west Belfast have been released unconditionally. A viable bomb was discovered on the Brian's Well Road in Poleglass on Sunday, 15 January. Police said the device was designed to "kill or seriously" injure officers serving in the local community.
27 January 2017
Three Arrested After £50,000 Worth Of Cannabis Seized In Co Down
Three people have been arrested after cannabis plants, worth an estimated £50,000, were seized in Co Down. Detectives from the PSNI's Reactive Organised Crime Branch made the seizure after searching premises in the Comber area on Thursday, 26 January.
20 January 2017
Man Arrested After Woman Found Dead In Co Armagh
A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a woman was found dead at a property in Co Armagh. The woman was discovered at a house in the Toberhewny Hall area in Lurgan at around 2.50am on Friday morning, 20 January. A post mortem examination will be carried out to determine the cause of death.
19 January 2017
Man Arrested On Drugs Offences After Sudden Death In Ballycastle
A man has been arrested on suspicion of drugs offences following the sudden death of a man in Ballycastle, Co Antrim. The body of a man, aged in his 20s, was discovered at a house in the Carnduff Park area on Thursday, 19 January. A post-mortem examination is to be carried out to determine the cause of death.
17 January 2017
Over 380 People Arrested During Drink-Drive Campaign
Over 380 drivers were arrested as part of a drink-driving campaign over the Christmas period in Northern Ireland. The PSNI arrested a total of 383 people between 24 November and 03 January. This is a 4% decrease compared to the same period last year. Almost 11,000 drivers were breathalysed, which is a 125% rise in the number of people tested.
08 February 2017
Five Men Arrested Over Theft In South Belfast
Five men have been arrested on suspicion of vehicle interference and theft in south Belfast. Police detained the males in the Myrtlefield Park area in the early hours of Wednesday, 08 February. The men also had several items in their possession which were not related to the theft.
03 February 2017
First Case Of Bird Flu Found In Swan In NI
The first case of bird flu has been found in a dead swan in Northern Ireland, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed. The wild swan was found by a member of the public near Lough Beg in Co L'Derry and it tested positive for the H5N8 avian influenza.
07 February 2017
SDLP Hits Out At Foster Over Irish Language Comments
The SDLP has hit out at comments former First Minister Arlene Foster made about the Irish language. Mrs Foster said the DUP would never agree to an Irish language act and more people spoke Polish than Irish in the North at an event on Monday, 06 February.
21 February 2017
Man Arrested Over Conan Anderson Murder
A man has been arrested by police investigating the murder of Conan Anderson. Mr Anderson, 22, from east Belfast, died in hospital on Saturday, 18 February, from injuries he sustained during a night out in Belfast over two weeks ago.
21 February 2017
Other News In Brief
Man Convicted Of Benefit Fraud A man has been convicted for claiming benefits he was not entitled to at Newry Magistrates' Court. Anthony O'Brien claimed Jobseeker's Allowance and Housing Benefit totalling £4,111 while failing to declare employment. He was fined £300 and ordered to pay an offenders levy of £15.
28 September 2016
Death Of Overdose Inmate Could Have Been Prevented - Report
An inmate took a fatal overdose of his own prescription drugs despite asking not to be in control of taking them, a report by the Prison Ombudsman has found. Patrick Kelly, 46, died in hospital from an overdose after hoarding the drugs while on remand at Maghaberry Prison.
20 October 2016
Banbridge Firm Wins £1.4m Asda Deal
A leisure vending firm in Co Down has scooped a £1.4million deal with supermarket retailer Asda. Clearhill in Banbridge will now install its products in over 100 Asda stores.