Socialist MEP Joe Higgins has expressed concern about the prosecution of a former IRA gun-runner and Sinn Féin ard comhairle member for the attempted murder of a UDR man 30 years ago.

Higgins has told the British government that, while he doesn't share the politics of Gerry McGeough, the decision to charge him with an offence committed during the height of the Troubles "seems at odds with the provisions of the Good Friday agreement".

McGeough, from Co Tyrone, is the first republican to be charged with historical crimes since the 1998 agreement. He is charged with IRA membership in 1975 and the 1981 attempted murder of UDR man Sammy Brush. He has pleaded not guilty.

His trial, which opened in March, has ended but judgment has not been delivered. Higgins also complained that McGeough had faced a Diplock, no-jury trial.

He told the British secretary of state for the North, Owen Patterson: "I would like to register my protest at the ongoing use of Diplock courts in Northern Ireland which... fall far short of the best of what is normally available."