Tony Blair to explain secret 'on-the-run' IRA deals to MPs

The former PM will reportedly be called before a parliamentary inquiry

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The Independent Online

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair may be asked to appear before a parliamentary inquiry to answer questions about a secret deal he made with Sinn Fein to provide surety to republican fugitives that they were not wanted by UK authorities, it has been reported.

MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee may consider the move, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

Under the peace process plan agreed between Sinn Fein and Blair's Labour government, around 200 letters of assurance were sent to absconders telling them they were not wanted by police, but not ruling out future prosecutions if new evidence emerged.

The committee is investigating following the collapse of the case against a man accused of the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing, which claimed the lives of four soldiers.

John Downey, 62, from Co Donegal, was among those who received letters under the government's administrative scheme. In his case it wrongly assured him he was not wanted when, in fact, the Metropolitan Police were looking for him.

Blair, who is now a Middle East peace envoy, has so far not given evidence to the committee in person.

But his role in orchestrating the deal over the letters is coming under increasing scrutiny.

John Downey was not prosecuted after he was sent a secret letter giving him a 'no trial' guarantee

On Thursday the results of another inquiry into the affair, led by Lady Justice Heather Hallett, will be published.

Lady Justice Hallett's report is expected to address secret negotiations between Mr Blair and Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, on how to deal with “on-the-run” suspects.

Because they had not been convicted, they did not fall within the scope of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which saw jailed paramilitaries released early.

Additional reporting by Press Association