Unionists have called for the Irish Government to apologise for refusing to extradite a former Catholic priest turned IRA member who has now spoken openly about his past.
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson and TUV leader Jim Allister made the call in relation to Ireland’s refusal to extradite Patrick Ryan in 1988. They also urged the government to co-operate with any future extradition request from the UK.
Ulster Unionist councillor Danny Kinahan also pressed Leo Varadkar’s government, 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.
They were speaking after Mr Ryan appeared on a new BBC Spotlight programme on which he discussed how he travelled around the world raising money for the IRA and procuring munitions.
He also discovered timers which made it easier for the IRA to arm bombs without being killed themselves, Spotlight reported.
Those became a component in the republican organisation’s bomb-making technology and one was used to detonate the 1984 bomb at the Tory party conference in Brighton.
“I would have liked to have been much more effective than I was but we did not do too badly,” the former priest from the Irish Republic told the programme.
The Irish Government refused a UK Government request in 1988 to extradite Mr Ryan for trial.
Mr Donaldson said the UK authorities should take steps to initiate a fresh extradition request if Mr Ryan is living in the Irish Republic.
“I think that the Irish Government should apologise for that failure on the part of the Irish authorities to extradite this man at the time,” he told the BBC Nolan Show.
“The Irish Government should step up to the mark if they receive an extradition request from the UK authorities.
“Clearly this is an elderly man and the sooner he is brought before the courts, the better for the pursuit of justice.”
Mr Allister also said the Irish Government should issue a public apology and called for Ireland to respond positively to any renewed extradition request for Mr Ryan.
“It’s time Dublin was held to account on this crucial matter and publicly apologised,” he said.
Mr Kinahan is a former member of the Blues and Royals regiment and had friends and colleagues among the 11 murdered in London in the IRA’s Hyde Park attack in 1982.
He said: “If Patrick Ryan happens to live in the Republic of Ireland, this will be a test of the Varadkar Government’s commitment to righting the wrong of the Irish government’s refusal to extradite Ryan to the United Kingdom in 1988.
“Terrorists should not expect to get away with gloating about their evil activities and rubbing salt into the wounds of innocent victims.”
A spokesman from Ireland’s Department of Justice responded saying: “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.”
Picture: Archive photo, dated 4th September 1994, of Patrick Ryan. (Martin McCullough/PA).