Bloody Sunday: Pressure to bring further prosecutions intensifies

Prosecutors in Northern Ireland have confirmed “further progress” towards a decision on whether more ex-paras will face charges over Bloody Sunday.

Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 2:15 pm
Thirteen people were killed and one other fatally injured in January 1972 when troops opened fire in Londonderry on what became known as Bloody Sunday

One former member of the Parachute Regiment – identified as Solider F – has already been charged with murder over the shooting dead of two men in Londonderry in January 1972.

Thirteen people were killed when troops opened fire following a civil rights march, however, in March this year the Public Prosecution Service announced that only one soldier would face charges.

Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute a further 16 former soldiers and two former Official IRA members who were involved on the day.

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Those injured and the families of the bereaved were dismayed at the PPS decision and immediately indicated their intention to ask for a review.

It has now been revealed that solicitors acting for the families have submitted a 149-page dossier in an effort to place more soldiers in the dock.

Prosecutors are unable to say when their review will be concluded.

“The PPS is currently reviewing decisions not to prosecute a number of suspects reported by police in connection with the events on Bloody Sunday, as requested by a number of the victims and families of deceased persons involved,” a PPS spokesman told the News Letter.

“We received detailed legal submissions on behalf of victims and families on Friday, 15 November.”

The spokesman added: “We are now in a position to further progress these reviews. We will continue to keep the families and victims informed.”

As well as the murder charges in respect of James Wray and William McKinney, Soldier F has been charged with four attempted murders on the same day.

Responding to the original PPS decision in March, some of the families described the sole prosecution as a “terrible disappointment”.

Soldier F did not appear before Londonderry magistrates when the case first reached court in September. A further hearing has been listed for next December 4.

A former army chief has expressed grave concerns about what he called the “hounding” of elderly military veterans.

Lord Dannatt told The Times newspaper that the Saville Inquiry – spanning 12 years at a cost of £200 million – “drew a line under that tragic day”.

He added: “The army got it badly wrong; the prime minister has apologised. Will justice really be served by hounding old men?”

Solicitor representing several military veterans who could face charges said he believes “we will see people being pursued to the end”.

Philip Barden said: “It’s very sad half a century on that soldiers who served Queen and country...can be told that no action is going to be taken against them, then they learn several months later that the families want to review that decision. You have to ask, when does this ever end?”