Hyde Park bombing suspect cancels homecoming

Saturday 01 March 2014 23.19
John Downey cancelled the event following fears it would turn into a 'media circus'
John Downey cancelled the event following fears it would turn into a 'media circus'

Hyde Park bombing suspect John Downey has cancelled a homecoming event planned for tonight in Co Donegal.

Hundreds of people were expected to gather at the Lagoon venue in Kilmacrennan following the collapse of the case against the convicted IRA member.

In a statement this morning Sinn Féin announced that Mr Downey had cancelled the event following fears it would turn into a “media circus”.

Earlier this week the prosecution of Mr Downey collapsed after a "reckless" error led to him being given a false assurance that he was not wanted by British police over the IRA attack.

Families of the victims of the 1982 bombing in which four soldiers died, said they felt "devastatingly let down" after the prosecution announced it would not appeal against the decision to throw out the case.

In a statement issued through Sinn Féin, Mr Downey said tonight's homecoming event was not intended to insult or add to the hurt of anyone bereaved in the attack.

“Some elements of the media are portraying the event planned for tonight as triumphalist and insulting to bereaved families.  That was never what it was about,” Mr Downey said.

The Sinn Féin member said that he has worked to promote peace and reconciliation and never intended to insult or hurt anyone.

“I am only too aware of their pain as there are many bereaved families also in the republican community.”

Mr Downey said: “I refuse to allow what was planned as a simple get together of family, friends and neighbours who supported me throughout my wrongful arrest and imprisonment in England to welcome me home and allow me to thank them, to be misrepresented and turned into a media circus."

A judge ruled Mr Downey could not stand trial as he had been given assurances by the Police Service of Northern Ireland he was not wanted for questioning or prosecution in Britain despite the Met police holding a warrant for his arrest.

The case saw the release of details of a deal struck with Sinn Féin that saw more than 180 individuals issued with letters making clear they could return to the UK because the authorities were not seeking them.

The British government has been challenged to immediately stop consideration of five active cases involving on-the-run IRA terror suspects.