IRA Hyde Park bombing suspect John Downey cancels homecoming party

It was not meant to insult bereaved families, he said

Lizzie Dearden
Saturday 01 March 2014 16:01

A party to mark the release of the man suspected of the IRA Hyde Park bombing has been cancelled.

The case against John Downey, 62, collapsed in London last week because he had previously been assured by Northern Irish police he would not be prosecuted.

A "homecoming" party had been planned at a pub in north Donegal on Saturday after he was again released but Mr Downey called it off over concerns it would become a media circus.

The former oyster farmer said it was intended as a simple get together of family, friends and neighbours who supported him after his arrest.

“Some elements of the media are portraying the event planned for tonight as triumphalist and insulting to bereaved families. That was never what it was about,” he said.

The Sinn Fein member has always denied planting the explosive that killed four soldiers in 1982 and badly injured other members of the regiment and members of public in the park.

The flag-draped coffin carrying Lt Anthony Daly, the Blues and Royals officer killed in the Hyde Park bombing

The collapse of his trial for the IRA attack sparked near chaos in Downing Street and Northern Ireland's devolved government.

A judge ruled he could not stand trial as he had been given assurances by the Police Service of Northern Ireland he was not wanted for questioning or prosecution in the United Kingdom, despite the Metropolitan Police holding a warrant for his arrest.

The case saw the release of details a deal the last Labour government struck with Sinn Fein that saw more than 180 individuals issued with letters making clear they could return to the UK because the authorities were not seeking them.

The government has been challenged to immediately stop consideration of five active cases involving on-the-run IRA terror suspects.

Additional reporting by Press Association

John Downey profile: A ‘supporter of the peace process’ – and convicted IRA member
IRA Hyde Park bombing suspect walks free after 'catastrophic' police error
Northern Ireland: First Minister Peter Robinson threatens to quit over Hyde Park bombing case

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