Irish Republican News · May 24, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: ‘Bad faith’ highlighted by new arrest
‘Bad faith’ highlighted by new arrest

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Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has accused the British government of breaching commitments given during peace talks over a decade ago following the arrest of leading Donegal Sinn Fein member John Downey.

The 61-year-old was brought before Westminster Magistrates Court to face charges over a 1982 IRA attack in London’s Hyde Park in which four soldiers were killed. Today [Friday], he appeared at the Old Bailey by video link from Belmarsh prison and was ordered to be remanded in custody. No bail application was sought.

Mr Downey, who lives in Carrigart, Donegal has been a leading member of Sinn Fein in the county. In 2009, he read the Easter statement on behalf of the party leadership at the party’s annual Drumboe martyrs commemoration.

Mr Adams said an agreement forged with the British government at the Weston Park talks about ‘on the runs’ -- republicans still pursued over in regard to outstanding prosecutions -- had been breached.

He said the arrest of John Downey “is a matter of grave concern and a clear breach of commitments given by the British government at Weston Park and in subsequent negotiations”.

The 2001 talks near Birmingham were intended to secure the implementation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The Weston Park deal helped to secure the final disarming of the Provisional IRA. It also saw a British commitment to hold a public inquiry on the state assassination of lawyer Pat Finucane, which was equally reneged upon.

Commenting on the development, Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly described Mr Downey as “a long time supporter of the peace process”.

“The decision to arrest and charge him in relation to IRA activities in the early 1980s is vindictive, unnecessary and unhelpful. It will cause anger within the Republican community.”

He said that following from the negotiated resolution of the OTRs issue, Mr Downey had received a letter from the British government in 2007 stating that he was not wanted by the PSNI or any other British police force.

“Despite travelling to England on many occasions now six years on he finds himself before the courts on these historic charges,” Mr Kelly said.

“This development represents bad faith and a departure from what was previously agreed by both governments.

“John Downey needs to be released and allowed to return home to his family.”

The controversial arrest followed the 15th anniversary of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, when Mr Adams again urged the 26 County government to press the British on “outstanding issues” of the peace deal.

Speaking in Belfast, the Louth representative accused the Tory-led coalition of defaulting on a number of past agreements, including commitments to legislate for a bill of rights and an Irish language bill for the North.

He called on the Dublin government, which he said was “a co-equal guarantor” of the Good Friday Agreement, to fulfil its obligations to intervene.

“I am calling on them now to bring forward a strategy to ensure the British government deliver on the commitments and support the work of the executive,” Mr Adams said.

© 2013 Irish Republican News