The Democratic Unionists, Ulster Unionist, SDLP, and Traditional Unionist Voice all called for action in the wake of the revelation that the suspect was handed an assurance he was not being sought by the authorities in relation to the 2003 murder — even though the British government scheme for administering the letters was only supposed to cover crimes up until 1998. It was part of the peace process.
Mr O’Connor’s inquest was halted in Armagh yesterday after it emerged that Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly was the “conduit” through which the letter was delivered by the British government to the suspect in 2008.
Democratic Unionist MP Ian Paisley said:
“This secret OTR scheme was operated for the sole benefit of republicans and since it was first uncovered we have seen just how involved Sinn Féin were in its operation.
“It was shambolic in operation and in principle — a corruption of justice.
“The [British] government has now stated that these letters cannot be relied upon to avoid prosecution. This case once again demonstrates the importance of those words.”
Gerry Kelly defended his role in the scheme and said he did not know the identity of the murder suspect.