Mr Hain's comments come on the eve of the first Irish state visit to Britain.

Kenny Donaldson told VoR: “I think it’s true to say, we’ve had quite a number of calls this morning saying that people are again up-in-arms, as they were when this was initially suggested by the Attorney General, John Larking. I think many people would feel that [former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland] Peter Hain and [former Prime Minister Tony] ‘General Blair’ – as how he’s referred [to] – have left a legacy of having bastardised our criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. And there is a great deal of anger and annoyance that someone who now is obviously no longer in the government continues to try and peddle a pro-amnesty agenda. 

“It appears that  the Establishment is more or less saying that the Peace Process troubles any requirement for justice and truth to be worked through in a society, where we would have a very, very clear view on this, that no society worth its salt can ever have a sustainable future unless justice and truth are very strong pillars within that society. The world over teaches us that this notion of adding sticking-plaster after sticking-plaster to a peace process to keep it all on track is really doing a deep disservice to those who have been wronged most in this society.

“I would say to Mr Hain that, how Northern Ireland can cease to be stopped by its past is for he, and other supposedly responsible political leaders, to put it up to those who actually inflicted the violence and get from them, once and for-all acknowledgement and recognition that the use of violence in the furtherance of so-called political objective wasn’t ever justified.

“One widow who I have spoken to in these last couple of days has said she just cannot get any peace, and effectively her husband was murdered all those years ago and his memory is being murdered every day since, because what she and many others within this country gave a commitment to was to not engage in revenge [of] acts of terrorism. People stayed on the right side of the law and they put their trust in the lawful organs of the state to do right by them and they also had a strong belief in a higher being, of course, and that’s what prevented them from doing to their neighbours what was done to them.

“And for this government and this system to say that, actually, ‘folks, we’re sorry, but you’re the collateral damage once again’ isn’t acceptable. And this establishment will rue that sort of action if it does go down that line.

“If you don’t put a market down in the evolution of a country to say that violence can never, ever be justified, that it is a wrongful means in order to try and attain a political objective, what are you saying to generations that come behind?

“This thing is destined to repeat itself unless there is a very, very clear line drawn in the sand that violence was not legitimate.”

(VoR)