Northern Ireland news

Families vow to continue fight for justice after DPP move

Mickey McKinney spoke to the media with his brothers, John (left) and Joe (right) watched by solicitor Fearghal Shiels, after the prosecution of two former soldiers over three deaths during Northern Ireland's troubled past were halted. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Seamus McKinney

The families of three people killed in Derry in 1972 have vowed to continue their fight for justice after it was announced the prosecutions of two soldiers accused of the killings would be discontinued.

Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Stephen Herron met the families yesterday to explain the decision to discontinue the cases against Soldier F and Soldier B.

Mr Herron said that following the ruling that evidence in a separate legacy case was inadmissible. He believed a “reasonable prospect of conviction” no longer existed in the cases. The DPP said the collapse of the case against two other military veterans accused of murdering Belfast man, Joe McCann in 1972 had a direct implication for the Soldier F and Soldier B cases.

Soldier F was facing murders charges over the deaths of Bloody Sunday victims, William McKinney and Jim Wray and the attempted murder of Michael Quinn, Joseph Friel and the late Patrick O'Donnell who were wounded.

Soldier B was expected to be charged with the murder of fifteen-year-old Daniel Hegarty on July 31 1972. Daniel was shot twice in the head from a distance of less than ten feet near his home in Creggan in Derry when he went out to see British army tanks being used to clear no-go areas during Operation Motorman. His cousin, Christopher was also shot but survived.

In both cases, solicitors for the victims' families have announced they will appeal the Public Prosecution Service decision.

The decision to halt the prosecutions provoked an angry reaction from the families. Michael McKinney, a brother of William McKinney, said the Saville Inquiry in 2010 clearly linked Soldier F with five killings.

“There is no dispute that his actions on Bloody Sunday resulted in two women being robbed of their husbands, twelve children being orphaned of their father and dozens of young men and women deprived of a brother. Six parents also lost a son,” Mr McKinney said.

John Kelly, whose brother, Michael was also killed on Bloody Sunday, said he was disappointed but would never give up.

“This is not exoneration for Soldier F; the whole world knows what he did,” Mr Kelly said.

Chairman of the Bloody Sunday Trust, Tony Doherty said the decision meant victims of state violence had been told justice could not be achieved within the Northern Ireland state.

Mr Doherty, whose father, Patrick was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, said: “No family should be forced to struggle for 50 years to achieve truth and justice.”

While the family of Daniel Hegarty were too upset to talk, their solicitor, Des Doherty said the British army and the British state had subverted the legal system to get away with the “murder of a child”.

Mr Doherty said: “Soldier B shot Daniel Hegarty twice in the head at point-blank range and left him for dead. He didn't even check to see if he was ok or if his cousin, Christopher, who was also shot in the head was ok.”

The Bloody Sunday Trust will hold a solidarity event with the Bloody Sunday families and the family of Daniel Hegarty (covid restrictions in place) at Guildhall Square (3pm).

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Northern Ireland news