Areas that in our opinion the media should be scrutinising regarding “On the Runs”
1. When the Police were looking at the lists of OTR’s, dd they do a full criminal record check on the names on the list provided to NIO?
2. Did the NIO make available to the Police full intelligence disclosures in relation to the individuals?
It is Vixens understanding that the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) was asked to look at a number of individuals and provide information as to whether there would be a “realistic prospect of conviction” in relation to individuals “On the Run”. It was when information came back that there likely would not be a realistic prospect of conviction that individual letters were issued, citing that they were not being sought in connection with any activity.
This leads to a number of other questions. The PPS make a decision on information made available to them. Were FULL files containing ALL information in relation to these individuals given to the PPS? If not, why not? Who withheld information – if at all? Were investigations, and persons cross referenced in relation to matters which they were suspected of being involved in?
Was the assessment based on warrants only?
Were IRA membership charges and potential for same taken into account? Surely if people went on the run, most did so because of allegiance to an organisation. Were membership charges considered alongside individual names?
Some of these individuals had not one warrant, but several against their names. One such person, who returned after receiving a guarantee, had eight warrants at one time for their arrest. Was all information made available to PPS in cases like this? Did the NIO provide detail in terms of intelligence against persons?
Some people alleged to have named in a deal by Sinn Fein to the British Government to ensure that they would no longer be sought or arrested, according to Henry Mc Donald in 2002 were
· Charlie Caufield, wanted in connection with the Enniskillen bomb, which killed 11 people.
· Michael Rogan, chief suspect for the 1996 IRA bomb explosion at Army headquarters in Lisburn, killing a soldier and injuring 31 people.
· Michael Dixon, a former British soldier sought by the German and Northern Ireland police over the 1996 IRA mortar attack on Osnabrück.
· Liam Averill, who escaped from the Maze prison dressed as a woman during a party for prisoners’ children in 1997.
· Owen Carron, the election agent for IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands’s successful campaign to become an MP. Carron fled to the Irish Republic after being arrested over possession of an AK47 rifle.
· Robert ‘Fats’ Campbell wanted for questioning over the 1980 killing of SAS Captain Herbert Westmacott during a gun battle with the IRA in north Belfast.
· Dermot Finucane, the brother of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, had been on the run in the Republic of Ireland for almost two decades.
Vixens is aware that at least two of the people named on this list did indeed return to Belfast to live in the early 2000’s. We are unaware if all received a letter in relation to their situation.
We do know that others did. Sinn Féin have previously confirmed that the following two women were told they no longer being sought, and were in receipt of assurances were Rita O Hare, and Eibhlin Glenholmes (who returned to Belfast in Summer 2000) .
There are surely valid questions which require answers from the British Government and the NIO. In advance of any proposed public inquiry, there should be as much full and frank disclosure as possible.