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Former mayor silent on ‘letter of comfort’ claims

gerry mac

BY C.J.MCGINLEY
SINN Féin Councillor Gerry McMonagle has declined to comment on claims by the DUP and the TUV parties in the North on whether he received a ‘letter of comfort’ as part of the NIO’s adminstrative scheme for on-the-runs (OTRs).

Cllr McMongale’s case was featured on the BBC Spotlight programme on Tuesday night when DUP MLA Arlene Foster claimed Sinn Féin lobbied to have him included on a list of OTR’s supplied by the party to the British Government. Cllr McMonagle is a former Mayor of Letterkenny.

Referred to in the programme as William Gerard McMonagle, Spotlight claimed he was wanted in connection with the murder of part-time UDR member Hugh Alexander Cummings, known to his family as Lexie, in June, 1982. Hugh ‘Lexie’ Cummings from Artigarvan outside Strabane was shot in the back and chest at close range by the IRA.

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However, according to the DUP and TUV, a report by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) into the murder established that: “A review into Lexie’s murder was carried out by the On The Run Review team in 2003, following William McMonagle’s inclusion on a list of OTRs supplied by Sein (sic) Fein to HM Government.

“Following this review the DPP rescinded the direction of December 13, 1982 to prosecute William McMonagle and directed no prosecution against him.”

The case was also raised in the House of Commons in 2012 by DUP MP Jim Shannon who used parliamentary privelege to name Cllr McMonagle.

Speaking on Tuesday Arlene Foster said: “Following the revelations that have emerged from the collapse of the Downey case, it is clear that Sinn Féin lobbied the Government for the benefit of Mr William McMonagle, who has since 2004 been a member of the Letterkenny Town Council.”

“Given the content of this HET report, which shows that a decision was made to prosecute which, following political lobbying, was rescinded, it now seems almost impossible that the Sinn Féin politician is not in receipt of one of the letters issued by the NIO.

“I am glad that recent clarification from the Secretary of State has rendered these letters worthless, but there is an important issue that Sinn Féin needs to come clean about: how many more elected representatives are wandering around with these letters? Are any MLAs in receipt of them?” she added.

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