Haass Talks

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): On the past and the Downey case, I agree with the Secretary of State that there was never any question of an amnesty. May I also say that I make no apology for being part of a process that brought Northern Ireland from the hideous horror and evil of the past to the position where old enemies have now governed together for seven years in a stable, devolved Government—no apology for that at all? Just as we had to do deals with my Democratic Unionist party friends sitting over there to get to this point, so we have had to do deals with Sinn Fein to get to this point, and that was necessary for the negotiations to succeed and for peace to be established.

Mrs Villiers: Clearly, many difficult decisions were made as a result of the peace process. Some aspects of the Good Friday agreement were hard to swallow for many in the House, but I think that it is important that we reflect on the implications of the John Downey case and how a very serious mistake came to be made. Of course, as I have said to the House, we are urgently checking to ensure that similar mistakes were not made in any other cases.