This story appeared in The Irish News today Saturday April 29th 2017.
TONY Blair’s ‘backroom deal with Shame Féin in relation to an ‘amnesty for members of the IRA’ which has become known by the so-called of ‘on–the–runs‘ made an amnesty for former British Soldiers an “inevitability” a member of the Westminster defence committee has said. Earlier this week the powerful Commons committee backed calls for a ‘statue of limitations’ stopping investigation or prosecution of all former British Soldiers for Trouble’s related offences.
The committee stopped short of recommending a ‘statute of limitations‘ for unsolved paramilitary killings saying that “would be for the next government to decide”. In February The Irish News reported that 200 soldiers linked to unsolved Troubles killings are set to benefit from a de facto amnesty, with the British government seeking to introduce special legislation which would place a “line in the sand” on further prosecutions involving some ‘high level’ Shame Féin MLA’s from further prosecutions.
Sir Gearld Howarth, the outgoing Conservative MP for Aldershot said at the time that there were discussions taking place at the highest level to protect former members of the British military from prosecution.
“The soldiers and their families I speak to feel very let down”, he said. Three former members of the British military are charged with offences relating to their time on duty in the North of Ireland. In December last year two retired members of the Parachute Regiment were told they were to be prosecuted for the murder (execution ) of O.I.R.A (Official Irish Republican Army), Commander Joe McCann in 1972.
Another former British Soldier, Dennis Hutchings, who is in his in seventies and from Cornwall, has been charged with the attempted murder of John Paul Cunningham (27). who had learning difficulties, was shot dead (shot in the back) by a brave British Soldier in Co Tyrone in 1974. Prosecutors are also considering files on the 1972 Bloody Sunday shootings (mass murders) were 14 innocent civilians were murdered by British Soldiers in Co Derry.
DUP MP Gavin Robinson, an Orangeman and qualified solicitor
(pictured above) who sits on the Westminster defence committee said this government had a “long way to go to undo the disgraceful deals of the past”. “The current government are not going to be able to right the wrongs of the past, there were some quite disgraceful secret deals done and people were understandably outraged.
“The ‘on-the-run’ issue created a completely unbalanced situation and it is absolutely right that there are now steps taken to address that imbalance. “The IRA did not leave written records of the murders they carried out and in fact when pressed have continued to observe the IRA’s code of silence. “This was very evident in Martin McGuinness” evidence during the Saville inquiry. “These recommendations are not set in stone and they could be rejected, but I would hope the current government (Vote Labour) will give serious consideration to the report and the very understandable public anger.”
With many thanks to: Allison Morris, The Irish News, for the original story.