Tony Blair says John Downey should not have received an OTR lettterFORMER British Prime Minister Tony Blair told MPs today that Donegal fisherman John Downey should not have got a letter saying he was no longer wanted by police.Mr Blair faced a tough two hours of grilling by MPs in London after previously refused to be questioned. He repeatedly told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said that there was “no secret deal” over letters to on-the-run IRA members.And he said he feared the worst about the IRA if he did not sort the OTR issue once and for all.The letters to so-called on-the-runs (OTRs) came to light in February last year when the trial of Donegal Sinn Fein member John Downey collapsed at the Old Bailey courthouse in London.The trial judge dismissed the charges he faced over the 1982 Hyde Park bombings after it emerged he had received a letter from the British Government to say he was not wanted by police in the North or in mainland Britain.It sparked political fury with claims the British Government had struck a “secret deal” with Sinn Fein over the OTRs in a quid pro quo for IRA decommissioning and support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).Mr Blair admitted today that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was pushing him to resolve the issue, as convicted prisoners had been let out of jail on licence under the Good Friday Agreement.And Mr Blair accepted that he “grew to like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness” during the peace talks process.Mr Blair told the Committee about the scheme: “This was not a private arrangement. There was no secret. There was no deal.”On the Downey case, he told MPs: “The Downey case was a mistake…but I don’t think the process was wrong or unlawful. The scheme evolved over time.He accepted that the letters had caused “a lack of trust between parties”.But he added: “There was no secret deal.“We were trying to make sure there were no more victims; it was difficult and on a knife edge throughout.“If I said I was not going to deal with OTR, I would have had a serious consequence on our hands.”Unionist MP Sylvia Hermon said political parties, like the Ulster Unionist Party, Social and Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) and the Progressive Unionist Party were unaware of the OTR administrative scheme.She asked Tony Blair: “Did you tell the late David Ervine (former PUP leader) about this scheme?”He replied: “I didn’t tell him about the scheme but he knew about the OTRS. No I didn’t. tell and I accept it completely.”SH: “The letters were kept secret from people, like UUP leader David Trimble, the late David Ervine , the SDLP’s Alasdair MCDonnell. Why was that?”TB: “They weren’t kept secret. The process was not a secret”.SH: “The first two letters were issued from Downing Street by your chief of staff Jonathan Powell. Why were they kept secret? Sinn Fein always like to brag about the concessions they got from the British Government. They didn’t brag about this So Why were they kept secret for 14 years?TB: It was not kept secret.SH: At his trial John Downey relied on that letter in his abuse of process was mounted and it was won. The letters were key to this whole scheme. You wrote to Gerry Adams to say you would expedite the scheme.TB: I accept the (John) Downey letter was a mistake. But wee were fighting to keep the peace process alive for the next decade.”JOHN DOWNEY SHOULD NOT HAVE RECEIVED OTR LETTER, SAYS EX-PM TONY BLAIR was last modified: January 13th, 2015 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:BRITISH MPSJohn DowneyJOHN DOWNEY SHOULD HAVE NOT GOT OTR LETTERSAYS EX-PM TONY BLAIR
RALLY FAN ON THEFT CHARGE TOLD GARDA: ‘THEY DON’T OFTEN LET ME OUT’
STRAWBERRY DASH FUN RUN ORGANISED TO HELP KEEP BEAUTIFUL DUNFANAGHY TIDY!
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.