Northern Ireland

Prosecuting Bloody Sunday families for unnotified procession ‘not in public interest’ says Colum Eastwood

Bishop Edward Daly helps clear a path for one of the injured on Bloody Sunday
Bishop Edward Daly helps clear a path for one of the injured on Bloody Sunday

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has said the prosecution of some Bloody Sunday families over an alleged unnotified procession is not in the public interest.

The Foyle MP was speaking after it emerged that police have submitted a file to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in relation to some relatives of those killed by British troops in January 1972 walking to Derry’s Bishop Street Courthouse ahead of a Soldier F court hearing in August.

The former Parachute Regiment soldier is to stand trial for two murders and five attempted murders on Bloody Sunday.

The PPS said an investigation file was received reporting seven people.

The BBC reported that the seven individuals included in the police file are relatives of those killed or injured on Bloody Sunday.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood speaking to the media
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood outside Derry's Strand Road police station. PCITURE: JONATHAN MCCAMBRIDGE/PA WIRE

Mr Eastwood, who last month walked out of Derry’s Strand Road police station after being asked to attend an interview under caution over his participation in the alleged procession, said there was no public interest in bringing “bereaved victims into the dock for walking to court in a quiet, dignified manner”.

Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson has reported the Foyle MP to Westminster’s standards watchdog for stating that he would not take part in the criminal investigation into the alleged unnotified procession.

The SDLP leader said he left the police station after waiting for 20 minutes and not being interviewed.

“This whole sorry episode is the result of a complaint made by an attention seeker who is more concerned with getting his name in the paper than the needs of victims,” Mr Eastwood said.

“It’s an enormous pity that this has been facilitated by people who should know better.”