Unionists have called for the Irish Government to apologise for refusing to extradite a former IRA member and priest who expressed regret at not having been more effective as a bomber.
Fr Patrick Ryan appeared in a BBC Spotlight discussing how he travelled around the world raising money for the IRA and procuring munitions.
He also discovered timers which were used to detonate the 1984 bomb at the Tory party conference in Brighton. The Irish authorities refused to extradite him in 1988, having refused 93% of such requests from 1973-97.
“I would have liked to have been much more effective than I was but we did not do too badly,” Fr Ryan said.
DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson responded: “The Irish Government has been quick to demand apologies in the past. That they failed to extradite this self confessed terrorist for his part in multiple murders and attempt to assassinate a British Prime Minister merits an apology and immediate steps to extradite him to face justice.”
TUV leader Jim Allister said Dublin should cooperate with any fresh extradition request. “It’s time Dublin was held to account on this crucial matter and publicly apologised,” he said.
UUP councillor Danny Kinahan also pressed Dublin, saying if Mr Ryan now lives in the Republic, this will be an “opportunity for the Irish to right the wrong” of refusing to extradite him previously.
The Irish Department of Justice responded: “Decisions on extradition applications, both currently and at the time in question, are a matter for the courts. The Government does not comment on individual cases. The European Arrest Warrant has been an extremely valuable tool in ensuring the efficient extradition of suspects between jurisdictions.”
The News Letter asked the Garda whether it planned to question Mr Ryan - and whether it had questioned two other former IRA men who openly boasted about their IRA exploits since 2016 - lawyer Kieran Conway and Michael Hayes. However the Garda replied that it does not comment on individuals.
Brian Gormally, Director of human rights NGO, the Committee on the Administration of Justice, said: “None of these cases seem to involve breaches of international or domestic human rights law by the UK state, though the only knowledge we have of them is in the links provided by you.” He added that “extradition law in Ireland during the conflict is not an area of our expertise”.