26 November 2005

You've Sold Out Families Of State Collusion'

Derry Journal

Friday 25th November 2005

Derry MP Mark Durkan has launched an astonishing attack on Sinn Fein accusing it of 'selling out' the families of state murder and collusion for the greater advantage of getting IRA people back to the North with no questions asked. Mr. Durkan is urging Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams to now tell the British government to "call the whole thing off" and withdraw the OTR (On the Runs) legislation.

Speaking to the 'Journal' yesterday as he met with the two governments at Hillsborough, Mr. Durkan stated: "If Gerry Adams really did not know that the OTR legislation would apply to state murderers and colluders, why did Conor Murphy fly over to Westminster to welcome the legislation the day after Peter Hain made public that it would apply to them? "To be fair to Martin McGuinness, he made Sinn Fein's real position clear. When the SDLP criticised the legislation for letting state killers off the hook, Martin McGuinness, on BBC's "Hearts and Minds" programme, dismissed our concerns and said that he did 'not envisage that any people who were involved in the murders of nationalists ... is ever going to be brought before a court in this day and age'.

"He admitted that state killers would be able to get the benefit of the legislation but said that the people who would 'gain most advantage from this are those nationalists and republicans who are on the run for over 30 years'." Not once in the interview did he say that the legislation should not apply to state killers. "So there you have it in Martin McGuinness' own words. In return for the greater advantage of getting their on the runs back with no questions asked, Sinn Fein sold out the families that for years they claimed to fight for. They let state killers and loyalists totally off the hook. "But if a panicked Gerry Adams is now changing position, there is a simple thing that he must do: call on Tony Blair to withdraw this legislation immediately and entirely. That is what Gerry Adams must now do.

"The British have made clear that they do not like this legislation. So Sinn Fein should release them from the side deal and call the whole thing off," concluded the Foyle MP. There were emotional scenes in the British parliament this week as legislation granting an amnesty to on-the-run [OTRs] fugitives was given its second reading. Under the controversial law, those wanted by police for offences committed before the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 will be free to return home without any court charges.

The government, which faced significant opposition to the proposal from Northern Ireland and opposition MPs, said it was necessary to kick-start the stalled peace process. Gerry Adams insisted yesterday that the original proposals agreed at Weston Park in a statement by the two governments did not involve members of the British Crown forces.

"The legislation which was brought forward by the British Government was in breach of commitments made to us, going back seven years," he said yesterday. Speaking in Dublin, the West Belfast MP said he also wanted to see all uncompleted aspects of the Good Friday Agreement resolved. "Hundreds of families have been bereaved through the direct actions of the British Crown forces and none of those soldiers have been held accountable. "And hundreds more have been bereaved through the policy of collusion pursued as an administrative practice by British governments for a very long time."

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