Extradition hearing over 1972 IRA car bomb murders adjourned

The extradition hearing for a Co Donegal man wanted by prosecutors in Northern Ireland over the murder of two soldiers in 1972 has been adjourned until January.

John Downey, 66, appeared before the High Court in Dublin on Friday to face the extradition hearing.

Downey, whose trial for the IRA’s Hyde Park bombing collapsed in controversy four years ago, was detained on an unrelated matter in Ireland this month under a European arrest warrant.

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service initiated extradition proceedings after determining it had sufficient evidence to charge him with the murders of Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston, 32, and Private James Eames, 33, in a car bomb attack in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

John Downey
John Downey

The two Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers died when an IRA bomb exploded in a car they were checking on Irvinestown Road, Cherrymount, on August 25, 1972.

Downey’s barrister Tony McGillicuddy asked the court for an adjournment to allow time to attempt to secure documents relating to legal proceedings in London in 2013 and 2014 linked to Downey’s charges over the 1982 Hyde Park bomb.

A State lawyer argued there was no reason the hearing could not proceed as planned.

Mr McGillicuddy told the court he was “not engaged in a fishing expedition” and he was asking the court “to allow appropriate time to prepare the case”.

Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly granted the request.

In 2013, Downey was charged with murdering four Royal Household Cavalrymen in the Hyde Park attack.

Hyde Park bombing
Hyde Park bombing

He stood trial at the Old Bailey but the case dramatically collapsed after it was revealed he had received a written assurance from former prime minister Tony Blair’s government that he was not actively wanted by the authorities under the On The Runs (OTRs) scheme.

The episode sparked a government inquiry into the peace process scheme which prompted a backlash from unionists.

Downey has always denied any involvement in the Hyde Park attack.

Mr McGillicuddy told a previous hearing on the extradition matter that his client has had “a commitment of working in a positive manner in the Irish peace process since the early 1990s”.

Sinn Fein TDs Aengus O Snodaigh and Sean Crowe were present in court on Friday.

The judge remanded Downey on continuing bail until the hearing on January 28 at 11.30am.