John Downey: Hyde Park bomb accused to be charged with murder

A FORMER IRA man whose trial over the 1982 Hyde Park bombing in London collapsed has been arrested on suspicion of murdering two soldiers in Northern Ireland a decade prior.

John Downey, 66, was arrested by Gardaí in Co. Donegal on Monday evening in connection with the 1972 killing of two Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldiers in Co. Fermanagh.

A man whose trial over the IRA’s Hyde Park bomb collapsed in controversial circumstances will appear in a Dublin court later as Northern Ireland prosecutors seek to extradite him to face charges of murdering two soldiers.

Major political controversy over On the Run scheme

Downey is expected to appear at the High Court in Dublin on Tuesday afternoon to face extradition proceedings.

John Downey was detained by Irish gardai on Monday evening under a European Arrest Warrant as part of a joint operation with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Man accused of Hyde Park bombing arrested over soldiers murders

Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston, 32, and Private James Eames, 33, were killed when an IRA device exploded in a car they were checking on the Irvinestown Road in Cherrymount, Enniskillen on August 25, 1972.

Downey, 66, was arrested in Co Donegal and is expected to appear at Dublin High Court this afternoon to face extradition proceedings.

Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston (L) and Private James Eames (R) were killed in Cherrymount, Enniskillen in 1972 In 2013, Downey was charged with murdering four Royal Household Cavalrymen in the Hyde Park bomb attack in 1982.

The OTR scheme was set up by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 2000 in response to Sinn Fein lobbying for republicans who had fled the UK during the Troubles and were unsure whether they were wanted by the police.

His trial at the Old Bailey collapsed in controversial circumstances after he produced a so-called On The Run (OTR) letter from former UK Prime Minister Tony Blairs government assuring him he was not actively wanted by the authorities.

Judge Mr Justice Sweeney granted Downey a stay of proceedings after ruling that the Irishmans arrest at Gatwick Airport, as he transited the UK on the way to a trip abroad, represented an abuse of process.

The republican party had stressed the importance of addressing the issue in the context of shoring-up republican support for the peace process.

Mr Downey has always denied any involvement in the Hyde Park attack, which claimed the lives of Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, 19, Lieutenant Anthony Daly, 23, and Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, 36.

Families of the 1982 Hyde Park bomb victims continue to campaign for justice (Image: Getty) Announcing Mondays arrest, DCI John Caldwell, from the PSNIs Major Investigation Team, said: “The PSNI has been liaising closely with An Garda Siochana and todays arrest demonstrates the benefits of joint working between police forces and other national partner agencies.

Northern Irelands Public Prosecution Service (PPS) confirmed that a decision had been made to prosecute a 66-year-old man for the Cherrymount murders.

A PPS spokesperson said: “Following careful consideration of all available evidence, a decision has been taken to prosecute one person for the offence of murder and for aiding and abetting the causing of an explosion.

“Extradition proceedings were initiated in the High Court in Dublin on Monday November 5, to seek the extradition of one man from the Republic of Ireland for trial in Northern Ireland.

“One man was subsequently arrested in County Donegal this evening and is due to appear in court in Dublin tomorrow.

“As proceedings are now live and before a court, we will not be making further comment on this case at this point.”

See More: 1972, Arrest, Dublin, Extradition, Fermanagh, High Court, Hyde Park Bombing, IRA, John Downey, Northern Ireland, The Troubles

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