Exiles issues still on agenda Bell tells Blair

Alliance Deputy Leader Eileen Bell has told the Prime Minister that the issue of paramilitary fugitives (‘On The Runs’) cannot be resolved in isolation from paramilitary exiles.

Speaking after today’s meeting with Mr Blair at Downing Street, Mrs Bell added that there must be a form of due process to allow for an acknowledgement of guilt by OTRs, where a crime had been committed in the past.

Mrs Bell stated: “Paramilitary fugitives appear to be back on the agenda, but I have made it clear to the Prime Minister that it cannot be resolved while the abuse of human rights known as exiling continues. It is not just terrorist suspects that want to come home.

“It has been shown that parties with links to paramilitaries can have a very significant degree of influence here, and I would urge them to exercise that influence to bring this horrific chapter of abuse to an end. Such moves would increase confidence and stability in this often volatile talks process.”

Mrs Bell also told the Prime Minister that the talks should be inclusive if trust was to be re-established.

“The only way we can get back the trust that was lost after Weston Park is if there is openness and transparency. That means no secret deals. Events since then have shown that deals made behind closed doors can fall apart and damage trust in the process.”

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