Northern Ireland news

Lawyers believe Bloody Sunday civil cases cannot be halted

Linda (left) and Kate Nash's brother, William (19) was shot dead on Bloody Sunday and their father, Alex was shot and wounded when he went to his son's aid. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Seamus McKinney

SOLICITORS for the Bloody Sunday families believe it would be “impossible” for the British government to halt live court cases relating to the 1972 massacre.

Following the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday which delivered its report in 2010, the families were able to commence fresh civil actions for compensation. These were based on new information which came forward during the inquiry.

In the interim period, most of the families have received compensation payments running into thousands of pounds although a number of cases are yet to be completed. These actions would fall into a category which the government is trying to halt.

However, solicitors believe it is impossible to legally stop cases which have already started. One of the final legal actions to be taken is that by the family of Alex Nash who was shot and wounded on Bloody Sunday.

Mr Nash crawled to the assistance of his teenage son, William Nash who was shot and killed at a rubble barricade at Rossville Street. As he raised his hands and called for help, Mr Nash was shot and wounded by a paratrooper.

Solicitor Paddy McDermott said the Nash civil action was due to be heard on September 16 next.

"My view is that it would be impossible for the British government to halt any live civil actions because new law cannot be applied retrospectively to live cases," he said.

"They may be able to prevent future civil cases but I can see no legal way of stopping live cases. Proceedings in this case have been issued and are close to being dealt with. These cases are based on fresh evidence that arose in the Saville Inquiry and the claims are valid claims."

Kevin Casey represented the family of victim Jim Wray (22), who was shot by Soldier F. His family’s civil action for compensation was settled in 2018. Mr Casey said that new legislation could only be applied to future actions.

"New acts of parliament cannot be imposed retrospectively on cases which have already started or have been completed. There’s also the question of Article 2 rights," he said.

Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects right to life and also the right to an investigation if a family member is killed by the state.

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