Downey homecoming party called off (UTV)

A homecoming party for John Downey, whose trial for his alleged involvement in the Hyde Park bombings in London collapsed last week, has been called off.

A celebration was due to take place at a restaurant in Co Donegal on Saturday, after charges linking the 62-year-old to the 1982 attack were thrown out by a judge last Friday.

Mr Downey strenuously denied the charges that had been put to him.

There was outrage when it emerged there was to be a party to celebrate Mr Downey’s return to Donegal following his nine months in prison.

Around 500 people were expected to attend including the likes of Sinn Féin politicians Gerry Kelly and Pat Doherty.

Unionist politicians branded the event as “ghoulish” saying it “rubbed salt into the wounds” of those who lost loved ones in the London bombing.

I would never try to insult or add to the hurt of anybody who is bereaved as I am only too aware of their pain as there are many bereaved families also in the republican community.

John Downey

However, hours before the event was due to take place, Mr Downey decided to cancel the event.

In a statement, he said: “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.

“On the contrary, since long before the Good Friday Agreement I have been working to promote peace and reconciliation between our people on this island, meeting with members of loyalism and unionism in trying to put the past behind us and move into the future in peace together.”

He added: “My goal is, as it always was, a united Ireland where everybody is equal.

“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.

“For this reason I have decided to cancel the homecoming get together planned and I know that my friends and neighbours will understand.”

Four British soldiers and seven horses died when an IRA car bomb detonated in South Carriage Drive as they rode through the park to the changing of the guard.

The revelation that Mr Downey was sent a secret letter sparked a political row in Northern Ireland forcing Prime Minister David Cameron to announce a judge-led inquiry into the circumstances surrounding 187 letters sent to so-called ‘on-the-runs’.

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