IRA priest Patrick Ryan was once described by Margaret Thatcher as a “very dangerous man.”

Irish priest Patrick Ryan has admitted to a BBC documentary that he regrets not being more effective at his role in the IRA bombing campaign during the Troubles. 

Ryan, 89, told “Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History,” broadcast in the UK on September 24, that he spent ten years visiting Libya and Europe on behalf of the IRA, obtaining money and bomb components for the paramilitary organization.

“I would have liked to have been much more effective than I was, but we did not do too badly,” the former priest said.

Unionists have once again called for Ryan's extradition from the Republic of Ireland to the UK to face trial for his role in the bombings. The Irish government refused a 1988 request from the UK for his extradition. 

We must remember that the Hyde Park bomb is primarily a matter for @metpoliceuk and not @ChiefConPSNI. This letter was sent to today on behalf of @HydeParkJustice to the MET Commissioner calling for the investigation of Patrick Ryan to be reopened. #terrorism #IRA pic.twitter.com/aeazb0fdZj

— Matthew Jury (@finchbailey) September 25, 2019

“I think that the Irish Government should apologize for that failure on the part of the Irish authorities to extradite this man at the time,” Democratic Unionist Party MP Jeffrey Donaldson told BBC radio. 

“The Irish Government should step up to the mark if they receive an extradition request from the UK authorities. Clearly this is an elderly man, and the sooner he is brought before the courts, the better for the pursuit of justice.”

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson tells Nolan Show he wants an apology from the Irish government re not extraditing Patrick Ryan. The DUP MP also says he wants the Irish govt to confirm they will cooperate with extradition now.

— Stephen Nolan (@StephenNolan) September 24, 2019

Once described by former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a “very dangerous man,” Ryan acquired an expert knowledge of bombing in the ten years that he spent sourcing equipment for the IRA. 

According to Spotlight, Thatcher believed the priest to be the main channel between the IRA and Libya.

Ryan himself told Spotlight that he discovered timers that made it easier for the IRA to arm bombs without being killed themselves. The new timers became a component in the IRA’s bomb-making technology and one was used to carry out the 1984 bombing of the Tory Party conference in Brighton. 

Read more: Leading IRA figure claims Gerry Adams sent him to the US to buy rifles

- “And now, when you look back, do you have any regrets?”
- “Oh I have…I regret that I wasn’t even more effective”

Margaret Thatcher described Patrick Ryan as a very dangerous man with an expert knowledge of bombing.#SpotlightNI #TheTroubles @Jen_O_Leary pic.twitter.com/YmO3HcaVoM

— BBC Spotlight NI (@BBCSpotlightNI) September 24, 2019

“It is extremely uncomfortable to see a former priest seemingly gloating in the part that he played in the murder of my friends, and words cannot really express my anger,” said Ulster Unionist councilor Danny Kinahan.

“I have worked with the families of the Hyde Park victims to get justice for their loved ones and the least that our government can do for them is to seek immediately to bring Ryan to justice, no matter where in the world he currently resides.

“Resources should be committed to locating and arresting him. If Mr. Ryan lives in the Republic, this will be a test of the Varadkar Government’s commitment to righting the wrong of the Irish government’s refusal to extradite Ryan to the United Kingdom in 1988.”

In response to the renewed calls for extradition, a spokesman from the Irish Department of Justice said, “the  Government does not comment on individual cases” and that it was “a matter for the courts.”

“The European Arrest Warrant has been an extremely valuable tool in ensuring the efficient extradition of suspects between jurisdictions,” they added. 

Father Patrick Ryan with Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams marches to the British Embassy in Dublin during a Twentieth Anniversary demo of the troubles in Northern Ireland on 19/8/1989. Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie