Ever since the Good Friday agreement, the British government has tried very hard to make sure it works in Northern Ireland to sustain peace and stability in the region, Professor of Political History at Queen's University in Belfast, Graham Walker, told Sputnik.
"It has become clear that a number of compromised and concessions has been made around that agreement in terms of getting prisoners out of jail, giving them a pardon."
Under the 1998 peace deal drawn by then British PM Tony Blair and the Irish Republicans, the On the Runs (OTRs) scheme
, was launched a year later when over 200 paramilitary suspects were informed they were no longer wanted by prosecutors. The scheme did not apply to those who had not been charged or who had been convicted but escaped.
The existence of the letters only emerged in 2014 following the collapse of the trial of John Downey, who was charged with murdering four soldiers in the Hyde Park bombing. Downey was a suspect in the 1982 IRA bombing in Hyde Park, which left four soldiers dead after a nail bomb tore through the ranks of the Household Cavalry on a Changing of the Guard procession. In May 2013 Downey was arrested as he entered the UK and charged with the murders but the prosecution collapsed after it emerged he had been sent a comfort letter.