Belfast Telegraph

Jim Allister calls for 'Provo priest' Patrick Ryan to be prosecuted over role in IRA bombing campaign


Patrick Ryan talks to Jennifer O’Leary
Patrick Ryan talks to Jennifer O’Leary

TUV leader Jim Allister has called for the prosecution of priest-turned-IRA-man Patrick Ryan, following revelations to be aired on Tuesday night's Spotlight documentary.

In the programme, Mr Ryan, a former priest from Co Tipperary, admitted playing a key role in the IRA's bombing campaign in the 1980s, maintaining a network of Europe-wide contacts used to generate arms and money for the terror organisation.

He admitted to being involved in the 1984 Brighton bomb, in which five people were killed as Margaret Thatcher's ruling Conservative Party was holding its annual conference.

Asked if he had any regrets, Mr Ryan replied: "I regret that I wasn't even more effective, absolutely."

TUV leader Jim Allister
TUV leader Jim Allister

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show on Tuesday, Jim Allister said Patrick Ryan, who is now in his late 80s, should be pursued for his crimes.

"I think it's quite chilling when you hear someone glorifying in murder and exalting the activities he took part in," he said.

"That in the context, in this country, where many former soldiers are now being pursued for alleged activities they carried out when they were serving their country.

"So many of us will be watching and asking, 'what happens to a top terrorists when he, out of his own mouth, boasts of his terrorist activity? Will he be brought to justice?'"

He also questioned whether the BBC would cooperate with the authorities in any potential investigation into Mr Ryan.

"Will the BBC assist to bring him to justice? Because the BBC know where they interviewed him, they may therefore know where he is living. Is the BBC just in this to make a film? Or do they have any public conscience that will assist in bringing him to justice?" he said.

Speaking in 1988, Margaret Thatcher described Mr Ryan as having an "expert knowledge of bombing" and connected him to several IRA atrocities, including the Brighton bomb.

Jim Allister was highly critical of the Irish Government for not previously agreeing to extradite Mr Ryan to the UK after he was arrested in Belgium in possession of bomb-making equipment and transferred to the Republic. Dublin felt he would not receive a fair trial.

He said: "We know the previous attempt to bring [Patrick Ryan] to justice floundered because the Republic of Ireland, despite all of the evidence laid out in front of them by the Prime Minister and others, refused to extradite him, confirming of course, the proactive role the Republic played in those years assisting the IRA."

The TUV leader also referenced a previously caller to the Nolan Show last month called 'Eamon' (not his real name), who admitted, on air, to IRA membership and taking part in IRA activities.

He was asked whether he wished he'd killed more people, to which answered "correct", but declined to say if he'd killed anybody himself.

"Correct and we couldn't do enough. Killing and getting rid of the British establishment out of my country," he said.

Jim Allister said he has reported 'Eamon' to the PSNI, who said they would be liaising with the BBC in order to ascertained his identity and investigate potential crimes he may have committed.

Stephen Nolan said the BBC has a duty to protect sources and would only pass information to the PSNI if they obtained a court order compelling the corporation to do so.

Patrick Ryan also admitted to playing a role in the 1982 Hyde Park bomb, in which four members of the Army's Blues and Royals regiment were killed.

Ulster Unionist councillor Danny Kinahan, a former member of the regiment, echoed Jim Allister's call for Mr Ryan to be prosecuted.

"I have worked with the families of the Hyde Park victims to get justice for their loved ones and the least that our government can do for them is to seek immediately to bring Ryan to justice, no matter where in the world he currently resides. Resources should be committed to locating and arresting him," he said.

“If Patrick Ryan happens to live in the Republic of Ireland, this will be a test of the Varadkar Government`s commitment to righting the wrong of the Irish government`s refusal to extradite Ryan to the United Kingdom in 1988.

"Terrorists should not expect to get away with gloating about their evil activities and rubbing salt into the wounds of innocent victims.”

The PSNI has been contacted for a comment in relation to this story.

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