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Peace Process

PSNI chief to face questions on controversial 'on the runs' letters

Some 190 republicans were issued with ‘letters of comfort’ from the British comfort telling them they were no longer wanted in connection with historical crimes.

THE HEAD OF the PSNI will face questions this afternoon on the controversial ‘on the runs’ scheme, whereby ‘letters of comfort’ were sent to veteran republicans who had been wanted in connection with historical crimes.

Matt Baggott will give testimony at the fourth public evidence session of Westminster’s Northern Ireland Affairs Committee inquiry.

Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris, who is responsible for the force’s Crime Operations team, will also attend this afternoon’s hearing, which gets under way at 2.30pm.

The issue of ‘on the runs’ was brought into focus in February when John Downey, the man accused of carrying out the IRA bombing at Hyde Park in 1982, walked free from court.

He was one of 190 republican “on-the-runs” to receive a letter from the British government stating they were no longer wanted by police.

Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore has said the peace process was almost “derailed” by the Downey case.

Read: PSNI chief rejects claims of a ‘dark side’ to the force

Read: “The dark side fear him”: McGuinness on Adams’ arrest

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