Hain ‘Sunday’ views sparks parties dispute

Former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain
Former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain

Sinn Féin has said it did not agree to a “trade off” or amnesty for British soldiers as part of a deal over ‘on the runs,’ the party’s justice spokesperson has said.

Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney made the comment after former NI secretary of State, Peter Hain, said the soldiers responsible for the murders of Bloody Sunday should not be prosecuted.

Foyle SDLP MP Mark Durkan described Mr Hain’s remarks as “inevitable and predictable” and claimed Sinn Féin were aware of his view in 2005 when proposed legislation to deal with ‘on the runs’ was being drawn up.

“It is no surprise that Peter Hain has now articulated this view. That was clearly his position. Sinn Féin, who have been quoting him in aid this week, known that this was Peter Hain’s view when they were collaborating together to push forward the NI (Offences) Bill 2005,” he said.

However, Mr McCartney, rejected claims that his party agreed to any amnesty for British soldiers during the negotiations.

“At no time did we or Martin McGuinness ever suggest or contemplate a trade-off of an amnesty for British forces in order to achieve a resolution to the issue of OTRs. I have no doubt that the majority of those at these meetings would confirm this position.

“When the then British Secretary of State, Peter Hain introduced a reference in the proposed legislation to immunity for the British army, Sinn Féin immediately rejected it and rather than remove the section Hain dumped the whole Bill necessitating negotiation of the current OTR process. Mark Durkan’s attempts over recent days to misrepresent comments by Martin McGuinness are particularly divisive, offensive and disgraceful given the public role Martin has played over the years in support of the families,” he said.

Mr McCartney also said Mr McGuinness will be speaking to the PSNI as part of the investigation into Bloody Sunday.