Stop Prosecuting Terror Suspects Says Former UK Secretary of State
Peter Hain, the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has called for a halt to all prosecutions of terror suspects. If his move is adopted it would mean that the perpetrators of 3000 unsolved murders associated with the Troubles between the British government and Irish Republicans will go unpunished.
Hain, has admitted that his plan will leave victims families "desperately angry" but was needed to ensure a stable future for the province. He claimed that the situation was "not desirable in a normal situation" but it was now necessary to "wipe the slate clean".
The amnesty would apply to all "conflict related" offenses committed prior to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Whilst the troubles did spill over into both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, most of the violence took place in Northern Ireland itself. The Irish Republican Army, who were supported by US Democrats like Ted Kennedy and foreign dictators like Colonel Gaddafi, mounted a war to put the province under the control of Dublin.
In recent years there have been significant steps towards peace, with most of the larger terrorist bodies observing a ceasefire.
The comments of Mr Hain are likely to prove controversial on both sides of the border. They come shortly after a retired Police Officer from Northern Ireland accused Tony Blair's Downing Street of attempting to secure the release of two IRA suspects.
Retired Detective Chief Superintendent Norman Baxter believes the Government had been guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, in order to keep good relations with Gerry Adams, the President of Sinn Fien (the IRA's political wing).
During the peace process Blair released 500 convicted terrorists from prison early, and letters were sent to suspects on the run to say that they would not be prosecuted for their alleged crimes.
Once such suspect was John Downey, who walked free in January, from charges of being involved with the Hyde Park bomb attack in 1982. Mr Downey was able to produce a letter confirming that he would not be prosecuted, forcing a High Court Judge to release him.
Next week the United Kingdom will get its first ever Irish State visit. Michael Higgins, the President of the Republic of Ireland will attend a dinner at Buckingham Palace in his honour. Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness will be attending the banquet along with the Queen and Prince Phillip.
McGuinness was a senior official in the IRA when the group killed the Queens cousin, Lord Mountbatten. However, in order to advance the peace process the Queen met and shook his hand in a symbolic gesture in 2012.