In late 1999, a year after the signing of The Belfast Agreement, the IRA began pressing the Brits for an amnesty for its Volunteers who were ‘on the run’ from Justice (the OTRs), whether hiding out in the Republic of Ireland or in the United States of America.

Their crimes were murder, attempted murder and bombing.

As the “Downey Disclosure Documents” and “The Report of the Hallett Review” record, the Brits were telling the IRA negotiators that the nominal independence of the Attorney General and the Courts in Britain meant that the British Prime Minister could not simply order them to drop prosecutions of such serious offences.

The “OTRs” – the On The Runs – were an issue complicated in nature.

Furthermore, at this stage, the Brits complained to the IRA that the number of cases presented by the IRA had risen from around 20 to an alarming 30 or more – such an increase in number would itself cause political problems, they said.

While the Brits were clearly delaying for good reasons any intended solution to the IRA’s OTRs, an astonishing letter arrived at Number 10 Downing Street from the Irish Taoiseach/Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern on December 23, 1999.

The Irish Prime Minister, Ahern, demanded that the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, should immediately cancel all outstanding prosecutions of IRA ‘On The Runs’ – including all outstanding extradition cases – not least because the Irish Government was going to do so.

In fact, Ahern stated, the Irish Government would communicate to all foreign governments – in particular to the Americans – that any extraditions or prosecutions of wanted IRA terrorists should be quietly dropped.

While the Brits were delicately attempting to maintain that the British Attorney General and the British Courts should remain entirely independent of the government of the day – Ahern was stating plainly that the Irish Goverment suffered no such complications – the Irish Attorney General, the Irish Director of Public Prosecutions, the Irish Police (An Garda Siochana) and Courts were subject to the will of the Irish Prime Minister/Taoiseach of the day and would do as they were told – they would quietly drop all outstanding investigations and prosecutions of wanted IRA terrorists.

At a stroke, Bertie Ahern corrupted the Irish justice system – shattered the independence from Government of the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Courts and Judges – and began the secret betrayal of innocent Victims of the IRA – citizens whom the IRA had abducted, tortured and murdered in its secret torture chambers along the border over many years.

At a stroke, Bertie Ahern ripped apart the long-standing guarantee to the largely unarmed Irish police – An Garda Síochána – that murderers of police officers should serve no less than 40 years in prison – Ahern knew that he intended to prevent the prosecutions of and/or secure the early release of the IRA murderers of members of An Garda Síochána – those who murdered Jerry McCabe, Patrick Morrissey, Francis Hand, Gary Sheehan, Patrick Reynolds and Seamus Quaid, Michael Clerkin, Samuel Donegan and Richad Fallon.

If you imagine that the last hope of IRA torture and murder victims such as Tom Oliver, Terence McKeever and many others shortly before they were taken to border roads to be shot in the back of their heads was that at least the Irish State would never relent in its determination to bring to Justice those who committed their murders – at a stroke, Bertie Ahern betrayed them all in disappearing and laundering the IRA’s long record of Human Rights atrocities committed in the territory of the Irish Republic.

Following Bertie Ahern’s begging letter to Tony Blair on behalf of the IRA Army Council’s On The Runs, the number of OTR cases presented to the Brits by IRA negotiators jumped from 30 to 228…

  1. The then Assistant Chief Constable, now Deputy Chief Constable, of the PSNI, Drew Harris, made the following comments to the Committee on 7 May 2014, with regard to the type of people who were included on the Sinn Féin lists. He stated:
    “When you look through the full 228 names, there are people in that who are, in your own terms, “notorious”, without a doubt. 95 of these individuals are linked in some way or other to 200 murder investigations, but that linkage may only be in intelligence. All of that is now being assessed.”
    We, therefore, have several areas of concern with regard to the types of people on the Sinn Féin lists.
  2. We are particularly troubled about Barra McGrory’s comments that “in ordinary circumstances, the police would have liked to speak to” those people. The police would normally speak to someone who was a suspect, or potential suspect, but did not do so with OTRs. This meant that the police did not have the opportunity to arrest and charge those people as a result of that questioning. This strikes us as having potentially distorted the course of justice.
  3. Finally, the fact that 95 recipients of the letters are potentially linked to 295 murders is undoubtedly significant, albeit through intelligence, and begs the question as to why these letters were issued if that was the case. We are left wondering whether any political pressure was applied to ensure letters were issued as expediently as possible.

Blair – encouraged by the precedent of the Irish Prime Minsiter’s decision to entirely disappear the record of the IRA’s Human Rights atrocities – followed suit and began what came to be called the “administrative” solution to the IRA’s On The Runs – the quiet pressure on Britain’s Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions, police and security services to erase any and all outstanding prosecution and extradition cases against wanted IRA terrorists.

In fact, the Irish and British governments – with the agreement of American administrations – proceeded to retrospectively recognise all of the IRA’s terrorism as ultimately Political in nature and therefore absolved of any criminal taint.

It was indeed fitting that it was Bertie Ahern – one of the most corrupt politicians in modern Ireland – was he who set in train the betrayal of innocent victims of the IRA.

Along with the IRA’s long list of Human Rights atrocities, The Era of Innocent Victims of the IRA is now totally erased and forgotten.