'It churns up all that grief again' - families of IRA victims unlikely to be appeased by On The Runs inquiry

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The coffin of Hyde Park bombing victim Lt Anthony Daly leaves Windsor's Holy Trinity Church.
The coffin of Hyde Park bombing victim Lt Anthony Daly leaves Windsor's Holy Trinity Church. Credit: PA

By Martin Geissler: ITV News Correspondent

It was a "secret deal" designed to take the heat out of tensions in Northern Ireland, but when the agreement to grant an effective amnesty to almost 200 wanted IRA fugitives became public this year, it caused chaos.

The situation came to light in February when the trial of John Downey collapsed.

He was accused of murdering four people in the Hyde Park bomb in 1982.

Midway through the court case he produced an official letter telling him he was no longer wanted by any police force in the UK.

The effective amnesty was one of dozens granted by the Blair government in return for the IRA's promise to decommission its arms.

Forensic officers work on the remains of the IRA car which housed the Hyde Park car bomb in which four soldiers died.
Forensic officers work on the remains of the IRA car which housed the Hyde Park car bomb in which four soldiers died. Credit: PA

But, with the exception of Sinn Fein, politicians had not been consulted.

Bereaved relatives were furious and demanded answers. Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland's first minister, threatened to resign.

David Cameron promised a full inquiry. Its findings will be published later today.

There's already been talk of a "dreadful mistake", but many people who lost relatives to the IRA want more than an apology.

Theresa Villiers will present the findings of an inquiry today.
Theresa Villiers will present the findings of an inquiry today. Credit: PA

Shelley Gilfillan's uncle was murdered by the Provisionals in 1982. She says she has good reason to believe the man who killed him was given a "letter of comfort" by the British Government, freeing him from the fear of prosecution.

"I've lost trust in the Government," she told me at her home yesterday.

"It's so distressing and disappointing. All we want is justice.

"These secret deals are an insult. What else were the Government up to?

"We discovered this by accident - what else to they have hidden at the back of the cupboard?

"It just churns up all that grief again."

The results of a four-month inquiry by Lady Justice Hallett will be made public this morning when the Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers, gives a statement to the House of Commons.

It may be enough to appease disgruntled politicians here in Belfast, but it's unlikely to satisfy Shelley and many others like her.