Protest for soldiers ahead of Bloody Sunday anniversary

Bloody Sunday mural, inner-west Londonderry

Bloody Sunday mural, inner-west Londonderry

A former SAS man is promoting a protest in support of ex-soldiers in the run-up to the 45th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

Robin Horsfall, one of the military men who tackled hostage-takers during the 1980s Iranian Embassy siege in London, is advocating that people attend the march on January 28 in the UK capital.

DUP MP for East Londonderry Gregory Campbell has backed the event, which is titled “Justice for Northern Ireland veterans” according to the online flyer on Mr Horsfall’s Facebook webpage.

However, Robin Percival, a member of the Bloody Sunday Trust, has said that it is a bid to ensure soldiers are placed “above and beyond the law”.

The event is set to see crowds assemble at the Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square at 11am, before demonstrators march on Number 10.

An estimated number of participants is not known.

Promoting it on his Facebook page, Mr Horsfall wrote: “I’ll be there. Will you?”

A different flyer circulated elsewhere online states that Mr Horsfall will deliver an address on the day.

Asked if he backs it, Gregory Campbell said: “I’m supportive of any peaceful and lawful demonstration that draws attention to the double standards that exist; one of which is this one - ex-soldiers are being pursued and yet ex-paramilitaries are not.

“This is one way of highlighting that, and hopefully the government will address that.”

On January 30, 1972, soldiers of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on unarmed marchers in Londonderry, with the result that 14 of them died. No-one has been convicted over the incident, which David Cameron described in 2010 as “unjustified and unjustifiable”.

Two soldiers in their 60s are now being prosecuted.

Quoted in the Derry Journal, Mr Percival said of the organisers of the London march: “They can’t have failed to notice that the end of January is the anniversary of one of the most notorious massacres.... The timing is deliberate and is intended to offend.

“Clearly, they are panicked by recent decisions to charge former soldiers and the possibility that other former soldiers might face prosecution in respect of Bloody Sunday.”

Asked about the offence taken by Mr Percival over the date, Mr Campbell said that there was “much greater offence” to be taken in the fact that soldiers who may have been involved are now being legally pursued, whilst those who were “continuous law-breakers” are not.