Tony Blair Apology

January 13, 2015

Ian Paisley: I want to bring this back to the victims because the victims in all of this have actually been lost. Behind you in that gallery are victims of the Hyde Park bombing and their families. There are also many other victims from Kingsmill and many other massacres across Northern Ireland. There’s people there who are related to the 300 victims of the 95 people who received letters. I wonder if you want to take an opportunity now to turn round to those victims and apologise to them for the catastrophic error that your government was involved in that allowed for someone, a fugitive, to evade justice and for several others to be continued to allow to carry with them a letter that appears to get them off the justice hook.

Tony Blair: I said to you a moment ago that I adopted what was in the Hallett Review, and I do. I accept full responsibility, I’m the Prime Minister, I should accept full responsibility for everything that happens in a government of which I am the Prime Minister, for not having put in a structure for this procedure that might have meant in the Downey Case, as Lady Justice Hallett finds, that the letter would not have been sent and therefore the trial would have proceeded. For that I take responsibility, I feel sorry for those people and I apologise to those people who have suffered as a result of that. But I am not going to apologise for sending those letters to those who should have received them because without having done that we would not have a NI peace process in place today.

Ian Paisley: So you’re apologising for the error but not for the process?

Tony Blair: Look, these people have suffered enormously from what has happened. The reason I spent time and effort and I think I am justified in saying beyond what any Prime Minister before me or since me has done in NI is so that more victims of terrorism and more families would not suffer and right at this moment if we did not have a NI peace process, right at this moment as we can see from events elsewhere where we are dealing with a new form of terrorism we would still be dealing with terrorism in Northern Ireland.

Ian Paisley: Mr Blair I do not doubt your interest, your love and your compassion for Northern Ireland as a former Prime Minister, no one is doubting that, we are not questioning that today. We are questioning a method and a policy that unfortunately allowed someone to evade justice and of which you were the PM at the time which allowed that to happen. Inadvertently perhaps on your part but it was a catastrophic error. Now I welcome the fact that you have said sorry for part of that process. Theresa Villiers has apologised on behalf of her government and I think that’s important as your former spokesman when he was in front of us did not apologise and would not apologise for us so I think its important today that you have said that.

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