Saturday 27 December 2014

Donegal pub cancels party for freed Hyde Park bomb suspect

Published 01/03/2014 | 12:23

Date: 17/01/14
Photographer: Will Oliver
Pictured: John Downey
Caption: John Downey, appears the Old Bailey in Central London where he is appearing charged with the murder of four British soldiers during the July 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombings. Mr Downey is on conditional bail and his trial is due to begin in January 2014.
John Downey, at he Old Bailey in Central London
John Downey was in conditional bail until his trial began this week.
Pearse Doherty, Sinn Fein deputy for Donegal South-West at Leinster House. Picture: Tom Burke
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said he was prepared to resign unless there was a judicial inquiry into the collapse of the John Downey case.
Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Matt Baggott as he has said the force accepted "full responsibility " for failures that resulted in the collapse of the prosecution against Hyde Park bombing suspect John Downey.
File photo dated 21/07/82 of police forensic officers working on the remains of the IRA car which housed the Hyde Park car bomb in which four soldiers died, in Hyde Park
File photo dated 20/07/82 of a police photographer at the scene of the car bomb, in which four soldiers died, in Hyde Park, London
File photo dated 22/07/82 of the Duke of Edinburgh's car passing the site of the Hyde Park bomb in which four soldiers died, in Hyde Park
File photo dated 21/07/82 of police forensic officers working on the remains of the IRA car which housed the Hyde Park car bomb in which four soldiers died, in Hyde Park, London
Cars removed from the scene of the Hyde Park car bomb in which four soldiers died, in Hyde Park
File photo dated 28/07/82 of the flag-draped coffin carrying Lt Anthony Daly, the Blues and Royals officer killed in the Hyde Park bombing
File photo dated 29/08/84 of Trooper Michael Pedersen and Sefton, the Blues and Royals horse he was riding that was injured in the Hyde Park bombing in which four soldiers died
File photo dated 20/07/82 of dead horses covered up and wrecked cars at the scene after an IRA bomb exploded as the Household Cavalry was passing, in Hyde Park, London
File photo dated 03/11/82 of the Household Cavalry horse Sefton, the Blues and Royals horse injured in the Hyde Park bombing (second right, white blaze), returning with the cavalry escort for the Queen's procession after the State opening of Parliament
File photo dated 21/07/82 of Household Cavalry trumpeter Stephen Sullivan with his horse Gauntlet who survived the IRA bomb attack in Hyde Park as the prosecution of the Hyde Park
File photo dated 21/07/82 of Household Cavalry officer, Lieutenant Denis Richard Anthony Daly, who died from his wounds sustained from an IRA bomb explosion in Hyde Park
Attorney General Dominic Grieve answers MPs' questions after the prosecution of Hyde Park bombing suspect John Downey collapsed due to a blunder described by victims' relatives as "monumental", in House of Commons, London

A party to mark the release of the Hyde Park bomb suspect, whose trial collapsed sparking a political crisis, has been cancelled.

John Downey, a Sinn Fein member accused of planting the 1982 explosive, said he has called off the gathering in a village pub in north Donegal over concerns it was being turned into a media circus.

The 62-year-old former oyster farmer said the party had been planned 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.

Mr Downey denied any involvement in the Hyde Park bomb.

His trial for the IRA attack, which spectacularly collapsed in London during the week, 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 Met 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.

Mr Downey said he would never try to insult or add to the hurt of bereaved people by hosting the party.

"“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."

About 500 guests were expected at the Lagoon bar and restaurant in Termon near Letterkenny with Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty, who does not take his Westminster seat, and Stormont Assembly member Gerry Kelly among senior party figures originally planning to attend.

"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," Mr Downey said.

"On the contrary, since long before the Good Friday Agreement I have been working to promote peace and reconciliation between our people on this island, meeting with members of Loyalism and Unionism in trying to put the past behind us and move into the future in peace together.

"My goal is, as it always was, a united Ireland where everybody is equal.

"I would never try to insult or add to the hurt of anybody who is bereaved as I am only too aware of their pain as there are many bereaved families also in the republican community."

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