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Donegal pensioner extradited to UK over murder of two soldiers

Gardaí arrested John Downey on Friday afternoon

Connie Duffy

Reporter:

Connie Duffy

Email:

connie.duffy@donegaldemocrat.ie

Donegal pensioner extradited to UK over murder of two soldiers

John Downey who will appear in Omagh Magistrates Court on Saturday morning

A Donegal man wanted in Northern Ireland over the murder of two soldiers has been extradited from the Republic of Ireland.

Gardaí arrested John Downey, 67, before extraditing him this Friday afternoon.

They released a statement shortly after in which they said a man in his 60s has been arrested.

“This male has been extradited to Northern Ireland in accordance with an EAW (European Arrest Warrant) issued by the PSNI.”

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said it had arrested a 67-year-old "on suspicion of the murder of two UDR soldiers in 1972 and on suspicion of aiding and abetting an explosion".

Soldiers Alfred Johnston, a father of four, and James Eames, a father of three, were killed in a bomb attack in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, in August 1972.

In 2013, Mr Downey was charged with murdering four Royal Household Cavalrymen in a bomb attack in London’s Hyde Park in 1982.

He was detained here in October last year under a European arrest warrant.

He was tried at the Old Bailey in 2014 but the case collapsed after it was revealed he had received a written assurance from former prime minister Tony Blair’s government that he was not actively wanted by the authorities.

Responding to the arrest of Mr Downey Donergal Sinn Féin TD, Pearse Doherty, has described the British extradition request as vindictive and bad faith.

“The allegations against John Downey have already been dealt with and the British Government publicly stated that he is not wanted in connection with any offence.

“That assertion was tested in the courts and he was subsequently released. That judgement should be respected by the British authorities.

“The extradition request from the British Authorities is vindictive and bad faith and is an attempt to overturn due process.“It follows a campaign to introduce an amnesty for British soldiers at a time when the spotlight is on them for their actions.

“John Downey is a supporter of the peace process over many years and to his extradition is vindictive and an act of bad faith.

“He has worked to promote peace and reconciliation between the people of this island, meeting with members of Loyalism and Unionism and trying to put the past behind us and move into the future in peace together."

He added: “John Downey should be at home tonight with his family in Donegal. The British authorities through their own courts were ordered to release John after they were found guilty of a breach of process when he was previously arrested and detained a number of years ago. I have no doubt that the same will happen again.”

Mr Downey is due to appear at Omagh Magistrates Court on Saturday morning.