Sinn Féin TDs at court hearing of man accused of killing soldiers

Four Sinn Féin TDs turned up to support a man appearing at the High Court in relation to the murder of two Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers.

John Downey was remanded in custody, after he was detained by gardaí on Monday under a European Arrest Warrant in a joint operation with the PSNI. Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, Martin Ferris, Dessie Ellis and Sean Crowe were present at the hearing.

Prosecutors in Northern Ireland believe there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Mr Downey for the murders of Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston (32) and Private James Eames (33). They died when an IRA bomb exploded in a car they were checking in Enniskillen on August 25, 1972.

But Mr Downey told gardaí he believed the “DUP and not the DPP” decided to charge him, the court heard.

Speaking outside court, Mr Doherty said: “It is matter of record that the British government has said previously that Mr Downey was not wanted in connection with any offences.”

Mr Downey’s previous trial on charges in connection with the 1982 Hyde Park bombing collapsed in 2014, after it was revealed he had received a written assurance from the British government that he was not wanted by the authorities. The extradition hearing takes place on November 23.

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