Letters link 95 OTRs to 295 murders

Published Wednesday, 07 May 2014
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The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has heard that 95 of the 228 Republicans, who received letters under the controversial on-the-run scheme, are linked to nearly 300 unsolved murders.

Letters link 95 OTRs to 295 murders
Matt Baggott and Drew Harris giving evidence. (© UTV)

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott and Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris gave evidence about the government letters scheme at Westminster on Wednesday.

ACC Harris said: "When you look at the full 228 names, there are people in that who are notorious without a doubt, 95 of these individuals are linked in some way or another to 200 murder investigations. That link linkage can or may only be intelligence but that is now being assessed."

In a statement, police later clarified: "A review is currently underway of the 228 names involved in Operation Rapid. 95 of these are linked to 200 incidents involving 295 murders.

"The link can take a number of forms including intelligence."

Mr Baggott said a thorough investigation is now underway into every OTR letter issued but told the committee that, on this matter, police had "failed".

The 'on-the-run' letters scheme came to the fore in February following the collapse of the trial of Co Donegal man John Downey, 62, who denied charges linking him to the 1982 Hyde Park bombing.

He had been mistakenly sent a government letter saying he was not wanted for questioning by police.

It then emerged that 'on-the-run' letters were sent to over 200 republican paramilitaries telling them they were no longer wanted.

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a judge-led inquiry into the OTR scheme.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
realistic in planet earth wrote (268 days ago):
this whole OTR episode stinks. secret deals involving the british government and terrorists - what a shocker!
Mully in Ireland wrote (268 days ago):
So have these 200 individuals been convicted in a court of law? No...keep stirring why don't you.
fair play for all in ards wrote (268 days ago):
anyone that murdered anybody should face a court , what about the families of those murdered , how do you think how they feel? it does not matter if republican or loyalist they all deserve justice.
Housewife in Co Londonderry wrote (268 days ago):
I want to start by saying that I think this is horrendous and obviously these letters were handed out irrationally. However the government at the time agreed to this. Surely those involved knew that one day it would come to this point. Tony Blair and the rest of those involved need brought out and questioned, Matt Baggott may be accountable for the police actions now, but he wasn't then. Creating scape goats now isn't going to fix the problem. This turns the good Friday agreement into a sticking plaster, trouble is the wound is now infected and there's a whole mess seeping out. Clearly a whole lot of small print was left out, but by voting yes we all agreed to this whether we knew it or not.
expat in melbourne wrote (269 days ago):
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