A LEADING Sinn Fein member in Donegal was told on Wednesday that he is to stand trial charged with murdering four soldiers in the 1982 Hyde Park IRA bomb.
John Downey will go before the Old Bailey court in London in November to stand trial.
The 61-year-old, from Carrigart, was arrested at Gatwick airport in London last month after stepping off a plane.
It is claimed he was behind the attack which killed Roy Bright, Dennis Daly, Simon Tipper, and Geoffrey Young as they rode through the park to the changing of the guard.
The explosion also killed seven horses and injured other members of the Royal Household Cavalry.
They were travelling from their barracks to Buckingham Palace when the bomb went off.
Downey is charged with four counts of murder and intending to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.
On Wednesday, he appeared via video-link for the preliminary hearing.
Downey, who was wearing a white short-sleeved shirt, spoke only to confirm his name.
Mr Justice Sweeney set the provisional trial date for November 18, and told Downey he would appear in court again in September.
The arrest of Downey provoked a strong reaction from Sinn Fein who called for his immediate release.
However, his arrest was welcomed by unionist politicians.
Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said Sinn Féin member Downey was a “long-time supporter of the Peace Process” and should be released.
Gerry Kelly added: “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.
“Clearly, if John Downey had been arrested and convicted previously he would have been released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
“As part of the Weston Park negotiation, the British Government committed to resolving the position of OTRs [‘On the Runs’].
“John Downey received a letter from the NIO in 2007 stating that he was not wanted by the PSNI or any British police force.
“Despite travelling to England on many occasions, now – six years on – he finds himself before the courts on these historic charges.
“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.”