Belfast Telegraph

Ex-priest's IRA comments 'under review'

IRA confessions: former priest Patrick Ryan
IRA confessions: former priest Patrick Ryan

By Gillian Halliday

Police are assessing the content of a BBC interview in which a former priest confessed to involvement in major IRA attacks, the Chief Constable has said.

It follows calls for Irish authorities to extradite Patrick Ryan to the UK after his admission to obtaining money and bomb components for the IRA.

The Tipperary man said he played a key role in the IRA's bombing campaign in the 1980s as well as generating arms and money for the terror group.

He was speaking in Tuesday's episode of the BBC series Spotlight On The Troubles.

Ryan, now in his late 80s, confirmed his involvement in the Hyde Park bombing in 1982 and the Brighton bombing in 1984.

When asked if he had any regrets, Ryan said he regretted that he "wasn't even more effective".

The confession has prompted a legal team acting on behalf of Mark Tipper, whose soldier brother Simon was killed in the Hyde Park attack, to call for the Metropolitan Police to reopen its investigation into the atrocity as part of extradition proceedings.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has written to the PSNI chief constable, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Irish Justice minister Charles Flanagan in relation to the case.

Yesterday PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said a senior officer is reviewing information in relation to Ryan's comments, but stressed it was "too early" to say whether he would be seeking extradition proceedings against Ryan in the Republic.

Speaking at the Cross Border Organised Crime Conference in Co Cavan, Mr Byrne added that if the PSNI ends up seeking Ryan's extradition, it was a "conversation for [Garda chief Drew Harris] and his colleagues".

Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said any extradition request would be considered by the Irish courts.

"In the event of such an application being made, it will be a matter entirely for the courts and not for me," he said.

West Belfast priest Fr Patrick McCafferty branded Ryan's comments "absolutely grotesque".

"[It is the] antithesis of all a priest should be. He will face divine justice and should face justice on this side of eternity as well," he said.

Ryan's former order, the Pallottines, said the ex-priest is not availing of any of its services, and is not living in any of its own properties.

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