Belfast Telegraph

Dublin High Court awards IRA bombing suspect John Downey bail

Downey not to be released until surety paid

John Downey, who has been arrested in the Irish Republic over the 1972 murders of two soldiers in Northern Ireland, has been granted bail at Dublin High Court subject to the approval of financial guarantees.

John Downey was detained by Gardai on Monday evening under a European Arrest Warrant as part of a joint operation with the PSNI.

The 66-year-old appeared before the High Court in Dublin on Tuesday as Northern Ireland prosecutors seek to extradite him to face charges of murder.

On Thursday he was awarded bail pending the payment of a 30,000 euro surety.

The court heard how Downey was a supporter of the peace process.

Explaining the rationale for granting bail, the judge highlighted that Downey had been on bail during court proceedings in England and had abided by all conditions.

Downey is expected to walk out of the court building later on Thursday if information the judge has requested on bail guarantees is received.

The Sinn Fein member, wearing a red jumper and checked shirt, remained impassive in court as his conditional bail was approved.

Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston, 32, a father-of-four, and Private James Eames, 33, a father-of-three died when an IRA bomb exploded in a car they were checking on the Irvinestown Road, Cherrymount, Enniskillen on August 25, 1972.

In 2013, Downey was charged with murdering four Royal Household Cavalrymen in a bomb in London’s Hyde Park in 1982.

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.

The letter was issued under the terms of the controversial On The Runs (OTRs) scheme.

Trial judge Mr Justice Sweeney ruled that Downey’s arrest at Gatwick Airport, as he transited the UK on the way to a holiday, represented an abuse of process and he put a stay on any future prosecution in relation to the Hyde Park case.

The episode sparked a government inquiry into the OTR scheme.

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

A number of supporters including three Sinn Fein TDs, Pearse Doherty, Sean Crowe and Dessie Ellis, were also in court for Tuesday’s proceedings.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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