Bloody Sunday: decision to prosecute soldier reopens old wounds

  • Bloody Sunday: decision to prosecute soldier reopens old wounds

Bloody Sunday: decision to prosecute soldier reopens old wounds

Families of those died march through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 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.

As a member of the Parachute Regiment's 1st battalion, Soldier F said he fired 13 rounds in Londonderry on January 30 1972, as he gave evidence to the Saville Inquiry anonymously in 2003. Thirteen men were killed; a 14th man subsequently died of his wounds.

Just one soldier will face charges in relation to Bloody Sunday it has emerged.

Sixteen other former soldiers and two suspected ex-members of the Official IRA, all of whom were also investigated as part of a major police murder probe, will not face prosecution, the PPS said.

A Government spokesperson said: "The welfare of our personnel and veterans is of the utmost importance and we provide legal and pastoral support to any veteran who requires it". "Our serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution".

"And all the families probably feel the same way, that what we're trying to achieve is for them (the victims)".

"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", said Mickey McKinney, brother to one of the victims.

Responding to the decision this afternoon, UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland".

The government-commissioned inquiry, undertaken by Lord Saville, found none of the victims was posing a threat to soldiers when they were shot.

An investigation by the PSNI followed the £195 million inquiry and files on 18 soldiers were submitted to prosecutors in 2016 and 2017 for consideration.

The Bloody Sunday killings caused widespread anger at the time - not least in the United States, where support for the Irish Republican cause runs high - and almost 50 years later the incident remains highly emotive.

Victims' families and other voices say they must nonetheless be held to account for their actions.

"None of the casualties was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, or indeed was doing anything else that could on any view justify their shooting", the report said.

Police in the North opened their investigation into the killings after the 2010 Saville Report found that British troops opened fire on Bloody Sunday without issuing a warning.