A Donegal County Councillor is calling for the immediate release of John Downey, who was arrested in Donegal on Monday.
John Downey is set to appear in court in Dublin this Tuesday on suspicion of the murder of two soldiers in Northern Ireland in 1972.
Gardaí arrested the 66-year-old under a European Arrest Warrant. He is also being held on suspicion of aiding and abetting an explosion in July 1982 known as the Hyde Park Bombing.
Downey’s trial on charges linked to the 1982 bombing collapsed in February 2014 after it emerged he had been sent a so-called “on the run” letter. He is now facing extradition from the Republic for trial in Northern Ireland following this week’s events.
Donegal Councillor Michael Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig has expressed his anger at Downey’s arrest and called for his release.
Cllr Mac Giolla Easbuig said questions must be raised over the case: “John Downey had been arrested by An Garda Síochána at the behest of the PSNI. It has been reported in the media that this was a joint operation with the PSNI. What exactly does this mean? Were members of the PSNI present when John Downey was arrested?
“Moreover, having failed to convict John Downey four years ago, this now smacks of the British seeking revenge. Why, therefore, is the State colluding with this vindictive action?
“Why indeed, is the Dublin government and its minister for justice Charlie Flanagan even prepared to consider extraditing a citizen of this state to face trial in a Diplock court based on so-called ‘evidence’ collected 46 years ago by the RUC?
“Is this how the new Garda Commissioner Drew Harris believes that he can accomplish what he sees as, ‘… the main task facing him … to build up confidence in the force…’?
“These are just a few of the questions I shall be putting to junior minister David Stanton when he visits Donegal later this week and also I’ll be asking Minister Joe Mc Hugh why is this happing in Donegal. Indeed, these questions should be raised, and answers demanded, by every public representative in this state.
“John Downey should be released immediately,” he concluded.