Donegal pub cancels party for freed Hyde Park bomb suspect
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."