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Martin McGuinness says party won’t co-operate with Westminster investigation into "on the run" IRA members. Photo by: Wikimedia

Sinn Fein shuns Westminster inquiry into amnesty deals with IRA men

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Martin McGuinness says party won’t co-operate with Westminster investigation into "on the run" IRA members. Photo by: Wikimedia

Sinn Fein has refused point blank to cooperate with a British government committee’s investigation into amnesty deals with IRA terrorists.

The Westminster select committee is investigating claims that, since 2001, three British governments provided 228 IRA fugitives with letters stating that they would not be prosecuted for past crimes.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson has threatened to resign over the controversial deals with the IRA’s ‘on the runs,’ as they are know.

Now Sinn Fein has confirmed that its representatives will not give evidence before the Westminster committee when it travels to Belfast this week.

Robinson’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said his party will not deal with the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs committee.

The Irish Times reports that the select committee has interviewed a number of politicians and serving and former police officers about the system.

The review follows revelations earlier this year when a London court ruled that Donegal man John Downey should not be tried for the 1982 bombing in London's Hyde Park which killed four soldiers.

Downey had a letter of comfort telling him he did not face prosecution.

The Irish Times reports that it later emerged that nearly 200 republican OTRs were given such letters.

British PM David Cameron ordered an inquiry into the agreement, which unionists claim Sinn Fein had tried to keep secret. That inquiry is being led by Lady Justice Heather Hallett.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is holding its own inquiry and is taking evidence on Monday and Tuesday at the government buildings in Stormont, just outside Belfast.

Robinson, permanent secretary of the Department of Justice Nick Perry, Justice Minister David Ford, the North’s Director of Publin Prosecutions Barra McGrory and the North’s Attorney General John Larkin are all due to give evidence.

Deputy First Minister McGuinness confirmed on Sunday that Sinn Féin justice spokesman Gerry Kelly would not give evidence.

McGuinness said: “Sinn Féin has clearly outlined our position on the issue of on the runs and despite claims to the contrary, neither this process, nor the agreements on which it was based, were secret or hidden.

“However, in the interests of transparency and in an attempt to minimize the damage to the peace process from a growing public controversy, Sinn Féin agreed to participate fully and willingly in the Hallett review.

“To that end our party president Gerry Adams, Gerry Kelly and myself met with the Hallett review team last week and put Sinn Féin’s position on this and other legacy issues on the record.

“We see no point therefore in Gerry Kelly attending the Westminster select committee into the issue.”

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