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Police launch probe into retired Catholic priest who gloated on BBC show about his key role in IRA

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Police launch probe into retired Catholic priest who gloated on BBC show about his key role in the IRA killer bombings in Hyde Park and Brighton

  •  Police are investigating an 89-year-old who says he aided the IRA in the 80s
  •  Patrick Ryan claims to have helped smuggle weapons and bombs for the group
  •  It has emerged Margaret Thatcher described Ryan as a ‘very dangerous man.’

Police are investigating a retired Catholic priest after he confessed to playing a key role in the IRA’s Hyde Park and Brighton bombings.

Patrick Ryan said he had helped to smuggle weapons and explosives from Libya as well as timing devices for bombs – and helped to deliver them to Republican terrorists.

The 89-year-old’s admission in an interview last week prompted lawyers for the families of victims of the Hyde Park atrocity to ask Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to launch an inquiry.

patrick Ryan, 89, as he appeared on the BBC programme where he claimed to have played a role in aiding the smuggling of weapons and explosives for the IRA

patrick Ryan, 89, as he appeared on the BBC programme where he claimed to have played a role in aiding the smuggling of weapons and explosives for the IRA

Both the Met and Sussex Police, which covers Brighton, last night said they were assessing Ryan’s comments which came in an appearance on the BBC series Spotlight On The Troubles: A Secret History.

Challenged over documents released last year in which it emerged former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had described Ryan to the then Irish Taoiseach Charles Haughey in 1988 as a ‘very dangerous man’ who had an ‘expert knowledge of bombing’, he said: ‘She was right.’

Asked if he was involved in the attacks on Hyde Park in 1982, which left four soldiers dead, and the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the 1984 Tory Party Conference which killed five, he replied: ‘Absolutely, 100 per cent. I regret I wasn’t even more effective. Absolutely. I would like to have been much more effective but we didn’t do too badly.’

An unsuccessful effort in 1988 to extradite Ryan to Britain from Belgium where he was arrested with cash and bomb-making materials prompted Mrs Thatcher’s comments to Mr Haughey. 

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The Hyde Park bombing in 1982 was responsible for the deaths of five British soldiers and seven horses

The Hyde Park bombing in 1982 was responsible for the deaths of five British soldiers and seven horses

A second bid to extradite him from Ireland also failed. Last night, Lord Tebbit, whose wife was paralysed in the Brighton blast, said Mr Ryan should be brought to Britain and compared his case with investigations into former British soldiers stationed in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. 

‘He should be extradited and brought to trial,’ he said. ‘He thinks Sinn Fein people will prevent his extradition. All they’re interested in is seeing British soldiers prosecuted who were saving lives and trying to keep the peace in Northern Ireland.’

Mark Tipper, whose brother Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, died in the Hyde Park attack, said: ‘We have launched a CrowdJustice campaign to bring IRA men like Ryan to justice. There is not an ounce of regret in him and he is supposed to be a man of the cloth.’

Matthew Jury, of McCue & Partners, lawyers for the Hyde Park victims’ families, said: ‘These are heinous crimes. Ryan, and other IRA men like him, must be prosecuted.’

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