Belfast Telegraph

Tebbit calls for ex-priest to face extradition after he admits role in IRA terror

Patrick Ryan made the remarks on BBC NI's Spotlight
Patrick Ryan made the remarks on BBC NI's Spotlight
Jeffrey Donaldson
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

An ex-Tory minister injured in the Brighton bombing has called for a former priest to face justice after he admitted involvement in major IRA attacks.

Patrick Ryan from Tipperary 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.

His claims were broadcast in last night's episode of BBC NI's Spotlight series on the Troubles.

Ryan, now in his late 80s, confirmed his involvement in the Hyde Park bombing in 1982 and the Brighton hotel attack in 1984, where five people were killed as Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party was holding its annual conference.

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

BBC NI confirmed that the interview took place outside Dublin and it is "their understanding" that Ryan lives openly in retirement in the Republic.

The broadcaster also said that the PSNI had not yet approached BBC NI regarding the interview, but would deal with any request to obtain potential evidence in accordance with its editorial guidelines and processes.

Former Conservative minister Lord Tebbit and his wife Margaret were badly injured in the Brighton bomb.

Lady Tebbit remains paralysed to this day.

Lord Tebbit voiced anger at the Irish Government's refusal to extradite Ryan to the UK after he was arrested in Belgium in possession of bomb-making equipment in 1988.

He told Radio Ulster's Evening Extra: "It is an utter disgrace that the Irish Government refused to allow us to extradite him to face trial in this country."

Asked whether the Irish Government should apologise, he added: "An apology would be one thing, but the most important thing is to put the man on trial and get him put where he deserves to be."

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he wanted the Home Office to begin extradition proceedings due to Ryan's admissions over bombing attacks in England.

The Home Office said as part of long-standing policy, the UK will neither confirm nor deny that an extradition request has been made.

Mr Donaldson believes an apology should be issued.

"I think the Irish Government needs to explain why they failed to co-operate with the UK authorities at that time and apologise for that failing," he said.

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly described Ryan's confessions as "abhorrent" and hopes he will be brought before the courts in Northern Ireland.

"I don't think there should be any hiding place," the Policing Board member added.

TUV leader Jim Allister called on the BBC to hand over any information on Ryan to the authorities and demanded an apology from the Irish Government.

"Republicans and Dublin are often very keen to talk about greater cross border co-operation but when it comes to looking at the role the border played in allowing PIRA terrorists to evade justice there is no interest," he said.

Ulster Unionist councillor Danny Kinahan, a former member of the Blues and Royals, lost colleagues in the Hyde Park bombing.

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."

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson added that it was "sickening" to see Ryan "effectively rejoicing" being part of the IRA.

The Belfast Telegraph asked the Catholic Church if Ryan was still connected to the Church but it refused to respond.

The PSNI did not confirm if it had received any complaints regarding the former priest's confession or if they would be investigating the matter.

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