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Hyde Park bomb accused is arrested over soldier murders in Northern Ireland

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A man whose trial over the 1982 IRA bombing in London’s Hyde Park collapsed has been arrested on suspicion of murdering two soldiers in Northern Ireland in 1972.

John Downey, 66, was detained by Irish officers in County Donegal under a European Arrest Warrant as part of a joint operation with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

He is expected to appear at Dublin high court on Tuesday afternoon.

Downey is wanted for questioning in Northern Ireland, suspected of killing Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston, 32, and Private James Eames, 33, in County Fermanagh.

They died when an IRA bomb exploded in a car they were checking on the Irvinestown Road in Cherrymount, Enniskillen on 25 August 1972.

In 2013, Downey was charged with murdering four Royal Household Cavalrymen in a bomb attack in Hyde Park in 1982.

Hyde Park bombing
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Wrecked cars after the Hyde Park bombing in 1982

Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, 19, Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, 36, and Lieutenant Anthony Daly, 23, died as they made their way from their Kensington barracks to a Changing Of The Guard ceremony at Horse Guards Parade.

Downey stood trial at the Old Bailey in 2014, but the case dramatically collapsed after it was revealed he had received a written assurance from former prime minister Tony Blair’s government that he was not actively wanted by the authorities.

The letter was issued under the terms of the controversial On The Runs (OTRs) scheme.

Trial judge Mr Justice Sweeney ruled Mr Downey’s arrest at Gatwick Airport, as he transited the UK on the way to a holiday, represented an abuse of process and he put a stay on any future prosecution in relation to the Hyde Park case.

The episode sparked a government inquiry into the OTR scheme.

Mr Downey has always denied any involvement in the Hyde Park attack.

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