Tuesday 24 September 2019

Family of soldier killed by IRA bomb welcome suspect's arrest

Stock photo
Stock photo
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The family of a soldier killed in a bomb attack four decades ago has welcomed the arrest of suspect John Downey.

Mr Downey was detained by gardaí in Co Donegal on Monday under a European arrest warrant.

It related to three offences including a bomb in Co Fermanagh in 1972 which killed two Ulster Defence Regiment members. Alfred Johnston (32) and James Eames (33) died when an IRA bomb exploded at Enniskillen, on August 25, 1972.

A spokesman for Mr Johnston's family said yesterday: "John Downey has for a long period of time been suspected to have been involved in the murder of our father and his colleague."

Mr Downey (66) was remanded in custody after he appeared before the High Court in Dublin on Tuesday. Sinn Féin TDs Pearse Doherty, Martin Ferris, Seán Crowe and Dessie Ellis attended the brief hearing.

There is to be an extradition hearing on November 23.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin argued that the sight of Sinn Féin TDs attending the hearing "underscores for anyone in any doubt that although the packaging of Sinn Féin has changed, the contents have remained the same".

Mr Downey's previous trial on charges in connection with the 1982 Hyde Park bombing collapsed after it emerged he received a written assurance from the British government that he was not wanted by the authorities.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson insisted his arrest was "out of order" due to a previous British commitment that he "was not wanted in relation to any offences".

They said their TDs attended the hearing to support Mr Downey, who was described as "a supporter of the peace process over many years".

Irish Independent

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