The DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson has called on the Irish courts and the Irish government to facilitate any extradition request for controversial former priest Patrick Ryan who confessed his involvement with the Brighton bombing on a BBC programme which is to be broadcast on Tuesday night.
Mr Donaldson told RTÉ Radio’s News at One that there are clips in which Patrick Ryan “confesses to his involvement in a number of very serious crimes including terrorist activity by the IRA, incidents such as the Brighton bomb when the IRA tried to assassinate the then British prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
“He confesses to involvement in the Hyde Park bombing when soldiers were murdered in London and to a range of other incidents and of course also his involvement in bringing and importing weapons and explosives from Libya to help the IRA in their terrorist campaigns.”
Mrs Thatcher once described Patrick Ryan as having an "expert knowledge of bombing".
Asked if she was right to connect him to events like the Brighton bomb, he replied: "One hundred per cent."
Five people died when an IRA bomb exploded inside the Grand Hotel, Brighton where the ruling Conservative Party was holding its annual conference.
The then British prime minister narrowly escaped injury in the attack on 12 October 1984.
Mr Donaldson added: “These are very serious matters and of course the UK authorities sought to have Patrick Ryan extradited on the basis of their belief that he was involved in these various incidents and at the time the Irish courts ruled against extradition.
“So I think if a further request comes in now from the UK authorities it is incumbent on the Irish government and courts to facilitate that extradition request so that Patrick Ryan can be questioned by the UK authorities and prosecutions can proceed if the evidence is there to support these confessions.”
When asked about the possibility of a European Arrest Warrant, Mr Donaldson said that was one avenue, but that it was not the only one.
There are extradition arrangements between the UK and the Irish Republic that I think would facilitate the extradition of this individual, so I hope that the Irish government isn't going to try and thwart any extradition request from the UK. These are very serious matters.
“I think it would be quite remarkable and would not be viewed in a favourable light by many people (if an extradition request was refused) ... semtex and the weapons imported from Libya were not just used in the United Kingdom, they were used to murder members of the Garda Síochána in the Republic, they were used in attacks in the Republic by the IRA so if this man has confessed to his involvement in the importation of those weapons surely the Irish government and the Irish courts will take a dim view of that and would want to cooperate with the United Kingdom in ensuring that an extradition request is given due consideration.”
Episode three of the BBC Northern Ireland tv series Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History explores Mr Ryan's key role in IRA arms shipments from Libya.
In the programme, he takes credit for introducing the organisation to a type of timer unit it used to set off bombs.
Asked if he had any regrets, Mr Ryan said: "I regret that I wasn't even more effective, absolutely. I would have liked to have been much more effective, but we didn't do too badly."