A SENIOR DUP MP has said Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness must also be investigated after it emerged yesterday a murder inquiry has been set up to probe the events of Bloody Sunday.
A team of 30 PSNI detectives has been tasked with looking into the shooting of 13 people in Londonderry in 1972 following a civil rights march.
The investigation is set to take four years and is believed may cost up to £8million. It follows a 12-year public inquiry which cost almost £200million.
Gregory Campbell has asked if Mr McGuinness – who the Saville Inquiry report records was probably carrying a sub-machine gun – will also be probed.
“If the material contained in the Saville Report is good enough to warrant an investigation of the soldiers, then the police will also note that the report indicates the Deputy First Minister was ‘probably’ carrying a sub-machine gun on that day. This must also merit investigation by the police,” he said.
Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott said he had deep concerns, while TUV leader Jim Allister denounced the inquiry as “patent, political sop”.
Chief constable Matt Baggott told the Northern Ireland Policing Board yesterday: “It is a matter that I think we should be investigating and will be investigating.”
While Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris added: “That will be a large investigation obviously and setting aside the resources to properly start that and take that forward is a corporate issue which is under investigation at this time.
“There is not the expertise free and available to undertake an investigation of this size and that is why we are faced with dilemmas around prioritisation.
“The special resources required for this scale of investigation are just not available at this moment to commence an investigation of this scale and length of time.”
But Mr Campbell also went on to claimed the announcement showed a “hierarchy of victims”.
“The victims’ families of Enniskillen, Kingsmills, Teebane, Dropping Well and Bloody Friday would be content if the ‘follow up’ £8m was spent investigating all of their atrocities,” he said.
“It is clear from this announcement that there is a hierarchy of victims. Little wonder that some victims feel the death of their loved one was less worthy than that of the people on Bloody Sunday.”
Mr Elliott said the news has come “as a bolt from the blue”.
“I have deep concerns if this is an indication as to where we as a society are going regarding dealing with the past,” he said.
“This decision taken by Public Prosecution Service will - in addition to diverting valuable police resources from other areas for a period of four years - assist republicans in promoting their fantasy of a ‘just war’ and will cause great hurt once again to the victims and families of victims of atrocities such as Bloody Friday, La Mon and Enniskillen.
“Here we see the hierarchy of victims. Those who received a fully funded public inquiry have the Attorney General setting up a murder trial.
“Those whose loved ones died at the hands of terrorists and who have been denied such an Inquiry are not being afforded equality.”
And Mr Allister said: “after 40 years, in a patent political sop – maybe part of the payoff and choreography of ‘the handshake’- the security forces are to be investigated for murder, while self confessed IRA Commander McGuinness in Londonderry continues to escape any proper police investigation.
“Not only did McGuinness refuse to tell all he knew to Saville but untroubled by the police he is allowed to keep his dark secrets buried.
“With so many unsolved IRA murders – into which there are no fresh police inquiries, nor any judicial inquiry – the families of these victims are entitled to resent this further special treatment for the insatiable Bloody Sunday agenda, which itself will cost many further millions. There clearly is a hierarchy of victims.
“If the events of January 1971 are to be investigated then so too must the IRA murder of two police officers just days before, the role of a machine gun therein and McGuinness attachment to such a weapon, according to evidence given to Saville.”
The Saville Inquiry found that the Army had fired the first shots on Bloody Sunday and were to blame for what happened.
It published its report in June 2010, after a 12-year inquiry which cost £195m. It was the longest-running and most expensive inquiry in British history.
Prime Minister David Cameron issued an apology following the report, describing what happened as “both unjustified and unjustifiable.”
Some relatives of victims said they wanted the soldiers responsible to be prosecuted for murder and attempted murder.
John Kelly, whose brother Michael was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, said the victims had been expecting this announcement and said he felt it is a “step in the right direction”.
“My view on it at the time was these soldiers should have been arrested straight away and prosecuted on what came out of the Saville report,” he said.
“But certainly after hearing what we have heard it’s a step in the right direction because myself, my family and most of the families want prosecutions.”
Meanwhile Sinn Fein has welcomed the announcement of the PSNI team.
“Sinn Fein from the outset has maintained solidarity with the families and, while all of them are not of one voice as to the final outcome that they want, there is general agreement that the process must be allowed to run its course,” he said.