12 January 2006

Durkan broadside at 'dishonest' SF

Belfast Telegraph

By Chris Thornton
12 January 2006

Sinn Fein only turned against the OTRs legislation because the Government was about to force fugitives to appear in court, SDLP leader Mark Durkan claimed today.

Mr Durkan continued his political onslaught against Sinn Fein over the legislation after the Government announced yesterday that it was being scrapped.

He accused Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams of being "dishonest" about the reasons for reversing support of the proposed scheme, which would have allowed Troubles offenders to avoid jail.

Sinn Fein initially welcomed the Bill but changed their position last month. Secretary of State Peter Hain indicated yesterday that he was dropping the legislation because Sinn Fein had told republicans not to participate in the scheme.

At the same time, Mr Hain confirmed that the Government had been preparing to amend the legislation to overcome objections in the House of Commons. Those amendments would have inserted a requirement for OTRs - short for on-the-runs - to appear before a special tribunal to get their pass out of jail.

Mr Adams said his party opposed the law because members of security forces would qualify alongside IRA members and could avoid jail for collusion offences.

The SDLP leader has repeatedly attacked Sinn Fein over the OTRs deal, describing it as the "Hain-Adams" pact.

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