Sinn Féin - On Your Side

SDLP challenged over OTR issue

16 November, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing and Justice issues Gerry Kelly today accused the SDLP of deliberately misrepresenting his party's position on the issue of OTRs.

Mr Kelly said:

" In negotiations with the British and Irish governments Sinn Fein raised the issue of a small number of people who are on the run. These are political exiles who are displaced from their families and who, if arrested and convicted, would have been eligible for release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. All of those we were aware of are Irish republicans and all are firm supporters of the peace process.

" Sinn Fein did not support, propose, discuss or accept that members of the British state forces should be part of the process nor did we argue for a blanket amnesty.

" On the contrary throughout the negotiations, we sought to ensure the scheme would not provide an amnesty to members of British state forces who carried out or were responsible for state killings or collusion and whose activities have always been covered up by the British government. The scheme published by the two governments at Weston Park in 2003 related only to OTRs and did not include members of British state forces.

" Our position on collusion and state violence is clear. We support the families of the victims in their pursuit of justice and truth. The SDLP on the other hand refused to even turn up to meet these families in both Stormont and Westminster. The reality is that the British state has always protected members of its forces against prosecution and in the small number of unavoidable convictions, the perpetrators have enjoyed minimum prison sentences, early releases, re-admission to the British Army and subsequent promotion

" Sinn Féin have been to the forefront in highlighting the issue of collusion and state violence. This is a fundamental issue. Sinn Fein will continue to confront the British government on this. The apparatus of collusion remains in place. It must be dismantled. The British continue to deny the policy of collusion exists. They must be forced to acknowledge the truth and those who operated and controlled this policy, including senior British political figures, who have always enjoyed impunity, must be held to account." ENDS

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