Northern Ireland: First Minister Peter Robinson threatens to quit over Hyde Park bombing case

Mr Robinson said he was not prepared to lead power-sharing administration where he is 'kept in the dark'

The First Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson, has threatened to quit over being “kept in the dark” about secret letters given to more than 180 IRA suspects.

Mr Robinson said he was not prepared to lead the power-sharing administration unless he received answers, and demanded a judicial review into the collapse of the case against Hyde Park bombing suspect John Downey.

The 62-year-old was among 187 IRA suspects who were sent letters granting them immunity from prosecution in what the chairman of the Northern Ireland Police Federation earlier called a “grubby secret deal”.

The letter sent by the Northern Ireland Office to Mr Downey was described in the High Court yesterday as a “catastrophic failure” on the part of police and officials, who had missed the fact that a 30-year-old arrest warrant was still outstanding for the 1982 IRA attack.

Mr Downey was arrested at Gatwick Airport in May last year despite receiving a written assurance from the Government in 2007 that he was not wanted for prosecution under a deal, struck as part of the Northern Ireland peace process, which gave protection to 187 “On The Run” wanted IRA suspects.

Mr Robinson said: Mr Robinson said: “I am not prepared to be the First Minister of a government that has found itself having salient facts relevant to matters that are devolved hidden from them. That is not acceptable to me.

“I want to have a full judicial inquiry into who knew what, when they knew it and exactly what they did know at the time. I also want to ensure that the letters that have been sent out are rescinded.”

Dead horses covered up and wrecked cars at the scene of the 1982 attack Dead horses covered up and wrecked cars at the scene of the 1982 attack Speaking to the Commons today, David Cameron called the actions that led to the collapse of the case against Mr Downey a “dreadful mistake”.

He said: “We should be absolutely clear - the man should never have received the letter that he received, Downey.

“It was a dreadful mistake and a mistake that we now need to have a rapid factual review to make sure that this cannot happen again.

“But, whatever happens, we have to stick to the principle that we are a country and a government under the rule of law.”

NI Police Federation chair Terry Spence today blamed the Government for what he called a “grubby, secret deal” that was offered despite the fact officers in Northern Ireland were aware of the Old Bailey arrest warrant.

He told the BBC: “None of us knew of the existence of this administrative scheme or what it entailed or the number of on-the-runs involved. There is a crying need for clarity as well as some honesty and decency.

“The government owes it to Police families to tell them, without any double-speak, that there is now no chance of them ever seeing justice being done in cases involving their relatives.

“There were 211 unsolved murders of RUC officers prior to the Good Friday Agreement and it looks from this grubby, secret deal that they are to remain unsolved.”

The four victims of the Hyde Park bombing - Lieutenant Anthony Daly, Corporal Roy Bright, Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young and Trooper Simon Tipper - were killed when a car bomb exploded as 16 members of the Household Cavalry Blues and Royals were passing for a Changing of the Guard ceremony. The blast also killed seven horses and injured 31 people. Mr Downey has always denied involvement in the Hyde Park Bombing.


Attorney General on Downey charge

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine