Hyde Park bombing suspect John Downey will not face trial after being given false assurance he was not wanted over the 1982 IRA attack.
Fr Reid worked tirelessly for years to end the Troubles in Northern Ireland, today he died peacefully in hospital. He will be remembered.
Claims a shadowy military force were tasked with shooting IRA Volunteers - armed or not - are worrying, but not in the least surprising.
The inquiry into the scheme to deal with secret letters to IRA suspects will:
- Produce a full public account of the operation
- Produce a public account of the extent of the administrative scheme for OTRs
- Determine whether any letters that were sent contained errors
- Make recommendations on any errors
The inquiry judge will be able to review all the documentation and invite people for interview but will not be able to compel witnesses to attend and those that do will not be questioned on oath.
It will be up to former ministers and officials invited to interview whether they attend.
The Government said it would be making clear to all those who had received a letter in the past, as part of a deal Sinn Fein struck with Labour, that if evidence now existed, or emerged in the future, which linked them to an offence they could be questioned or prosecuted.
– DUP leader Peter Robinson
I think that makes it clear that they have a fairly worthless piece of paper.
Democratic Unionist First Minister Peter Robinson told reporters: "There's going to be contact with those who are recipients [of the letters] to make it clear what the limitations of the letter are."
He went on: "If any on-the-runs are in Northern Ireland and the police have information that would lead them to question those individuals they will do so and if they have evidence which they can produce in court that they believe could secure a conviction, they will do so."
"I think there will be a lot of OTR's will sleep less easy tonight," he added.
A statement by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, supported David Cameron's comments that letters sent to so-called on-the-run republicans "did not amount to immunity, exemption or amnesty from arrest."
– Statement by Secretary of State on OTR Scheme
The letters did not amount to immunity, exemption or amnesty from arrest. The letters made this clear.
That remains the case. No recipient of such a letter should be in any doubt that if evidence emerges in the future in connection with terrorist offences committed before the Belfast Agreement they will be liable for arrest and prosecution.
"I hope that we can put this episode behind us," Democratic Unionist First Minister Peter Robinson told reporters at a news conference today.
"I am satisfied with the response I've got from Government, I do not intend to resign," he added
Up to 500 people are expected to attend a homecoming party for former Hyde Park bomb suspect John Downey at a Donegal restaurant on Saturday.
Senior Sinn Fein politicians including Gerry Kelly are expected to join Downey's friends, family at the event in the village of Termon to celebrate his return after being imprisoned for the last nine months while awaiting trial in England.
Jim Allister, leader of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice party branded the event a "ghoulish celebration" while Kenny Donaldson, who represents 11,000 terrorism victims in Northern Ireland, said: "The victims are going to feel totally and absolutely disgusted."
However, Seamus O'Domhnaill, a Fianna Fail councillor said Mr Downey was an "unassuming" man who should never have been arrested.
Democratic Unionist First Minister Peter Robinson posted an image of his phone call to David Cameron, after threatening to resign unless there was a judicial enquiry into secret letters sent to so-called on-the-run republicans.
First Minister Rt Hon Peter Robinson MLA just finished a telephone call with Prime Minister David Cameron http://t.co/4NW7hGsovh
I have just spoken to Peter Robinson. I told him I shared his anger over the Downey letter - and was glad we have agreed on an inquiry.
Ireland's Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) and Foreign Affairs Minister, Eamon Gilmore, is holding talks with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Terea Villiers, as his department in Dublin said it was not involved in the process of issuing letters to so-called on-the-run republicans.
– Department of Foreign Affairs statement
The department was not involved in the process which led to the issuing of these letters.
"However, we have monitored this case very closely, including through the Embassy of Ireland in London, which provided consular assistance to Mr Downey,” a spokesperson told TheJournal.ie.
“This included attendance by representatives of the Irish Embassy at court hearings relating to his case”.
David Cameron said that in letters sent to so-called on-the-run republicans (OTRs) "There was never any amnesty or guarantee of immunity for anyone, and there isn't now."
Repeating his view at a Downing Street press conference that the John Downey case involved a "dreadful mistake made by the PSNI", he went on: "It is right that we take swift action but let us also remember that Northern Ireland has made great strides forward as a result of the peace process.
"It is vital that we deal properly with the events of the past but make sure this never undermines our determination to build a shared and prosperous future for the next generation so that we never again return to the horrors of the past," he added.
The judge appointed to investigate the operation of a Government scheme to deal with OTRS will be given "full access to government files and officials" and will report by the end May, Mr Cameron said, with the findings being published.
The Prime Minister said he accepted calls for a "full, independent examination" of a Government scheme to deal with on-the-run republicans, after Democratic Unionist (DUP) First Minister Peter Robinson threatened to resign.
– Prime Minister David Cameron
I agree with the First Minister of Northern Ireland that, after the terrible error in the (John) Downey case, it is right to get to the bottom of what happened.
The case has already been referred to the Police Ombudsman but, as the First Minister has said, we should have a full, independent examination of the whole operation of this scheme.
So I can announce today that we will appoint an independent judge to produce a full public account of the operation of this administrative scheme to determine whether any other letters were sent in error.