Published Wednesday, 11 June 2014
David Cameron said steps were taken by the last government to get the peace process working.
Royal prerogatives of mercy were issued to shorten the sentences of those convicted of terrorism offences in the period following the 1998 Good Friday agreement.
The measure allows changes in prison terms without the backing of, or consultation with, Parliament.
Mr Cameron said: "The last government did have to make very difficult decisions to try to get the peace process started by John Major on track and working.
"I don't want to unpick all of those difficult decisions, second-guess those difficult decisions."
Earlier Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers told the Commons the royal prerogative of mercy was used on 16 terrorism-related occasions to shorten sentences but not to cancel offences and not by her government.
Mr Cameron acknowledged that there are still frustrations and issues to be settled in Northern Ireland but added: "We have the basic architecture of devolution and parties working together across historic divides and I don't want to put that at risk."
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, who had asked the question, said the Prime Minister should intervene to ensure that the circumstances surrounding the pardons were revealed so people know the facts of the cases.
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