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MoD to pay Bloody Sunday soldiers' fees

14 March 2019

British prosecutors on Thursday charged a former paratrooper with two murders and four attempted murders for the 1972 "Bloody Sunday" killings in which 13 protesters were shot dead in Derry.

The prosecutor announced on Thursday that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute "Soldier F" for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney and for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell.

"In respect of the other 18 suspects, including 16 former soldiers and two alleged Official IRA members, it has been concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction", he said.

The director of public prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Stephen Herron, and senior prosecutors, revealed their decision to families of the deceased and injured on Bloody Sunday at a private meeting in Londonderry this morning.

Ciaran Shiels, the solicitor for several of the victims' families, said: "We are disappointed that not all of those responsible are to face trial".

Soldiers take cover behind their sandbagged armoured cars in Londonderry, Northern Ireland on January 30, 1972.

"We will give detailed consideration to the reasons provided for decisions not to prosecute the other soldiers, with a view to making further submissions to the Prosecution Service and we shall ultimately challenge in the High Court, by way of judicial review, any prosecutorial decision that does not withstand scrutiny".

"The innocence was gone; also the possibility of a reformist. solution to what was going on in Northern Ireland was, if not destroyed, substantially diminished by Bloody Sunday", McCann said.

The marchers had been protesting Britain's detention of suspected Irish nationalists in the majority Catholic area of the Bogside in Derry on what became known as "Bloody Sunday", January 30, 1972.

Responding to the decision this afternoon, UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland".

"And the Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues".

Following the inquiry's conclusion in 2010, then prime minister David Cameron said the killings were "unjustified and unjustifiable".

A short internal military inquiry shortly after Bloody Sunday, known as the Widgery Report, concluded the soldiers had done nothing wrong.

However, the government has proposed legislation to widen the programme to offences taking place from 1968, meaning any Bloody Sunday prosecutions would be eligible.

Papers before prosecutors included 668 witness statements and numerous photos, video and audio evidence. Relatives were visibly upset following the announcement of the decision.

MoD to pay Bloody Sunday soldiers' fees