Northern Ireland news

Historic convictions not unprecedented in Northern Ireland

The names of the Bloody Sunday dead are inscribed on a monument to their memory in Derry's Bogside. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

Successful prosecutions for murder many years after the killing are not unprecedented in Northern Ireland, according to leading Derry solicitor Paddy McDermott.

Mr McDermott - who represents the family of Bloody Sunday victim William Nash (19) who was killed and his father, Alex who was injured – was speaking in advance to tomorrow's PPS announcement on whether or not former soldiers will be prosecuted for murder.

A number of British Conservative MPs have protested against the campaign to prosecute the Bloody Sunday soldiers 47 years after the 1972 killings. Former Tory minister, Norman Tebbit claimed this week any decision to prosecute soldiers would set a dangerous precedent.

However, Mr McDermott said successful convictions could be brought even after many years. The awyer highlighted the 2013 case in which loyalist killer, Robert Rodgers were jailed for 16 years for the 1973 sectarian murder of Catholic teenager, Eileen Doherty (19).

Ms Doherty was shot three times in 1973 when a taxi taking her to her Belfast home was hijacked by gunmen.

Sentencing Rodgers to life in prison in February 2013, Mr Justice Horner said: “Murder is murder. The passage of time…in no way dilutes the seriousness of such a crime.”

Mr McDermott also cited the 2011 conviction for attempted murder of former republican activist, Gerry McGeogh. The County Tyrone man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the 1981 attempted murder of off duty UDR man, Sammy Brush. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, he was released after less than two years.

“There are also legal actions going on as we speak. Look at the extradition request for John Downey 37 years after the Hyde Park bombing,” Mr McDermott said.

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