IAN Paisley has called for Sinn Fein to be compelled to give evidence to MPS over the controversy of government letters of assurance to more than 180 Republican paramilitary fugitives

IAN Paisley has called for Sinn Fein to be compelled to give evidence to MPS over the controversy of government letters of assurance to more than 180 Republican paramilitary fugitives

The Democratic Unionist MP said the Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee should use its powers to make senior figures appear at its inquiry into the row.

Loading article content

The committee is probing the deal between Sinn Fein and the last Labour government under which letters sent to republicans informing them UK police were not actively seeking them.

Details emerged following the collapse of a case at London's Old Bailey against 62-year-old John Downey over the 1982 Hyde Park bombing. He had received a letter assuring him he was no longer a wanted man when police had an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

Stormont's Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness announced that senior party Assembly member Gerry Kelly, who had a key role in the scheme, would not be appearing before the committee in Belfast today and tomorrow, and argued the party had already co-operated with a separate judge-led inquiry.

Mr Paisley said Sinn Fein's "refusal to fully co-operate with the Select Committee inquiry" into the letters was not surprising.