Former IRA leader to fight extradition on abuse charges
A former Provisional IRA leader, who is alleged to have been in charge of the terrorists' so-called southern command, is to fight a garda attempt to extradite him from Spain to face four charges of child sexual abuse here.
The extradition case in Madrid is not expected to be determined for several months.
The man, who is originally from Belfast but had been living in south Dublin before he moved to Spain almost two decades ago, is denying the allegations.
He appeared before a private hearing at the Audiencia Nacional, which deals with extradition cases, on Wednesday after he had been arrested by police in Alicante the previous day.
The IRA figure is also featuring in a separate garda investigation into the IRA murder of prison officer Brian Stack more than 30 years ago.
The man is understood to have objected to his extradition to Ireland under an European Arrest Warrant when he appeared briefly before the Audiencia Nacional.
He was remanded in custody, pending a new hearing, which will be held in public.
A date has not yet been set for the hearing but the case is not likely to be determined for several months because of a lengthy legal process.
His extradition was sought after detectives from a Dublin north city station carried out a two-year investigation into claims by a woman that she had been sexually assaulted by the IRA figure over two decades ago.
As part of the inquiries, two of the detectives flew to Alicante and interviewed the suspect at his home.
During the interview he also denied the claims.
The extradition warrant was issued by Dublin district court after the Director of Public Prosecution examined the garda file and gave the go-ahead for the man to face four charges.
The man was also interviewed at his home early last year by two other garda officers involved in the Brian Stack investigation.
Mr Stack was the only prison officer in the Republic to have been murdered by the IRA during the Troubles.
He was shot in the neck in March 1983 outside the National Stadium at South Circular Road, Dublin, after attending a boxing contest there and died 18 months later.
The Provisionals consistently denied they were responsible for the shooting but in 2013 issued a statement admitting responsibility after members of Mr Stack's family met Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and a former IRA commander.
The Stack investigation is still continuing.
Gardai believe he was murdered by IRA terrorists from a Dublin-based unit, which included some Northern IRA members.
Mr Stack was a chief officer at the top security prison, which housed IRA inmates, in Portlaoise and regularly reviewed internal arrangements there to prevent a terrorist outbreak.
The IRA man is believed to be currently in custody at the maximum security Soto del Real prison, near Madrid.
A bench warrant for the suspect's arrest on IRA membership charges was issued in 1998 but was never executed.
Max security for suspect
The Belfast-born suspect is expected to be held at maximum security Soto del Real prison near Madrid.
The prison is a first stop for those awaiting extradition from to Spain.
The jail, known officially as Madrid Penitentiary Centre Number Five, is where Ashya King's parents Brett and Naghmeh were held in September 2014 after being arrested following their decision to leave Britain with their sick son. A High Court judge later approved the move to take Ashya to Prague for proton therapy.
Road rage killer Kenny Noye also spent time at the prison before being sent back to Britain. Glasgow-born fraudster Michael Brown, the disgraced multi-millionaire who donated £2.4m (€3m) to the Liberal Democrats, was also held at the prison in April 2012 after being arrested at his Dominican Republic hideaway.
A Spanish Prison Service source said: "Soto del Real jail is a temporary stop for those facing extradition from Spain to another country and criminals and criminal suspects who have been returned to Spain as part of extradition proceedings."
The Spanish Prison Service declined to comment.