14 January 2006

SF angry at Irish fugitives move


Sinn Fein has criticised the Irish government for putting on hold its plans to pardon IRA fugitives.

It comes after the British government scrapped its controversial on-the-run proposals.

Irish President Mary McAleese had been expected to pardon around six IRA members wanted for crimes south of the border.

However, the plan has been suspended by the Irish Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern.

Speaking on Inside Politics, Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly, who was himself on the run in the 1980s, said Dublin had no requirement to follow the example set by London.

"The fact was that in the south there is a much smaller number that would be involved," he said.

"But it was still an anomaly which came from the Good Friday Agreement and could have been sorted out."

"The fact that the British have acted in bad faith should be no reason for the Irish government to join them in terms of them refusing to go ahead with this process."

'Restoring devolution'

On Wednesday, NI Secretary Peter Hain said the British government was withdrawing the controversial proposals on paramilitary fugitives.

The legislation would have seen those accused of paramilitary crimes before 1998 appear in front of a special tribunal, then be freed on licence.

Mr Hain told Parliament the legislation was necessary but Sinn Fein's rejection of it made it unworkable.

He also said he wanted to hold talks on restoring devolution in February.

But he said the issue of dealing with those accused of paramilitary crime who were "on-the-run" would not go away.

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