Northern Ireland news

Bloody Sunday families seek review of decision not to prosecute soldiers

A soldier will face prosecution for the murders of Bloody Sunday victims James Wray (left) and William McKinney
Seamus McKinney

LAWYERS for the Bloody Sunday families have asked for a review of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) decision to bring charges against just one former soldier involved in the 1972 killings.

Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron announced yesterday that the ex-paratrooper known as 'Soldier F' would be prosecuted for the murders of Jim Wray and William McKinney in Glenfada Park in Derry on January 30 1972.

He will also be charged with the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell.

While the Bloody Sunday families welcomed the decision, they expressed their dismay that charges were not to be brought against 16 other former soldiers who were investigated by police.

The Bloody Sunday families walked in unison from the Bogside to meet the Public Prosecution Service yesterday morning. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

Mr Herron also confirmed yesterday that no charges are to be brought against two former Official IRA members, known as OIRA 1 and OIRA 2.

Following a day of high drama in Derry, it emerged last night that lawyers for the victims' relatives have asked the PPS to review its decision.

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Lawyers for the family of William Nash also contacted the Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin over comments made by British defence Secretary Gavin Williamson after he said he was saddened that protection against “spurious prosecutions” was not given in time for yesterday’s PPS announcement.

Responding to yesterday’s decision, the Bloody Sunday families said if the killings had been investigated properly at the time, the outcome would have been different.

Mickey McKinney, a brother of William McKinney, alluded to recent comments about state killings by Secretary of State Karen Bradley, for which she later apologised.

“We would like to remind everyone that no prosecution, or if it comes to it, no conviction, does not mean not guilty. It does not mean that no crime was committed. It does not mean that those soldiers acted in a dignified and appropriate way.”

Lawyer Ciaran Shiels, who represents many of the Bloody Sunday families, suggested last night that the destruction of some of the guns used by soldiers possibly prevented other charges being brought.

Some of the rifles were destroyed just three days before the announcement of the Saville inquiry in 1998, while another two rifles were destroyed after Lord Saville had ordered they be kept safe.

Mr Shiels also confirmed that his firm, Madden and Finucane, has asked the PPS to review its decision not to prosecute other former soldiers.

“If we are not satisfied with that review, we may seek a judicial review of the decision,” he said.

Linda Nash whose youngest brother William Nash died on Bloody Sunday with Eamonn McCann at the Guildhall ahead of the announcement as to whether 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA will be prosecuted in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

While disappointed that only one former soldier was charged, the Bloody Sunday families said the victory for relatives of William McKinney and Jim Wray was for them all.

Alana Burke, who suffered serious injuries when she was struck by a Saracen armoured car, said the announcement was a vindication of the long campaign to clear their loved ones’ names and to bring those responsible to justice.

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“When the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign was launched in 1992 we had three clear demands – to have the Widgery whitewash overturned and replaced by an independent inquiry; to gain a formal acknowledgement of the innocence of all our loved ones, and to prosecute those responsible.

“With today’s news, we now achieve our third aim.”

Demanding that the legal process now be moved on with no further delays, John Kelly said a decision should also be taken on whether or not anyone was to be charged with perjury in relation to the Saville Inquiry.

14-03-2019: Grafitti appeared on Free Derry Corner in the Derry Bogside on Thursday afternoon following the PPS announcement that only one soldier is to be charged with the Bloody Sunday murders. After 47 years, the Bloody Sunday familes and the people of Derry marched from the Bogside to the City Hotel on Thursday morning, where the families of those shot dead on January 30th 1972 were informed by the Public Prosecution Service that it will pursue prosecutions against the British soldiers involved in the 13 deaths. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 14-3-2019.

Mr Kelly, whose brother, Michael (17) was one of those killed, said: “The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is the duty of the living to do so far them. We have cried out for them for many years and now we have succeeded for them. Do not deny us justice any longer.”

While satisfied that Soldier F was to be charged, other family members could not hide their disappointment. Some broke down in tears as they left a private meeting with Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron.

Gerry Duddy, a brother of teenager Jackie who was shot dead, said: “Even though as a family we’re disappointed, the families who got success today, their success is our success.”

One of the organisers of the Bloody Sunday march, former assembly member Eamonn McCann, said the families would be happy with plans to prosecute Soldier F but said there was “distress” that more prosecutions were not brought.

14-03-2019: Mickey McKinney who lost brother William, John Kelly who lost brother Michael and Alana Burke who was badly injured on the day. The Bloody Sunday families hold a press conference at the Guildhall in Derry on Thursday after being informed by the Public Prosecution Service that it will pursue prosecutions against the British soldiers involved in the deaths of 13 unarmed men in the Derry Bogside on January 30th 1972. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 14-3-2019.

“Different families will have different responses to this. Some will say quite reasonably that this is the end of the road; they’ve got a prosecution and that should satisfy people. Others may take a different view. It’s a bit early to say exactly how this will play out,” Mr McCann said.

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