Bloody Sunday soldier potential victim of anti-security forces trap – Allister

TUV leader Jim Allister
TUV leader Jim Allister

A former soldier being questioned on suspicion of murdering three people on Bloody Sunday would not qualify for a Troubles-related early release if convicted, Jim Allister has claimed.

A former soldier being questioned on suspicion of murdering three people on Bloody Sunday would not qualify for a Troubles-related early release if convicted, Jim Allister has claimed.

The 66-year-old ex-paratrooper was detained in Co Antrim by PSNI detectives on Tuesday and is being formally interviewed about the deaths of William Nash, 19, John Young, 17, and Michael McDaid, 20.

The three men were among 14 people killed when the Army opened fire on crowds of protesters in the Bogside area of Londonderry in January 1972.

The TUV leader said the suggestion any convicted former soldier would not qualify for early release - in the same way paramilitaries do - was “intolerable”.

He said: “The monstrous suggestion that a soldier convicted over the events on ‘Bloody Sunday’ would not qualify for early release, while hundreds of murdering terrorists have, is itself another illustration of the perversity of the Belfast Agreement and NI (Sentences) Act 1998, which flowed from it.

“By reason of S 3 of the Act, early release, it seems, is only available for scheduled offences arising after August 1973. Hence, the discriminatory vista before any soldier convicted out of the events of January 1972. It behoves HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) to commit now to remedying by legislation this anti-security forces trap.”

Mr Allister added: “Bad enough the special pursuit of soldiers, while most historical crimes by terrorists are passed by, but to compound it by subjecting any convicted soldier to the full rigour of the law, so ignominiously set aside for terrorists, would be intolerable.”

Victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer called for the ex-para’s immediate release and added: “We must defend those who have defended us and not allow those terrorists to dictate and rewrite our history.”