Danny Kinahan: Legal aid for Hyde Park case should have been granted earlier

The aftermath of the Hyde Park bombing on July 20, 1982, in which soldiers and horses were killed
The aftermath of the Hyde Park bombing on July 20, 1982, in which soldiers and horses were killed

The granting of legal aid to the Hyde Park Justice Campaign is fantastic news, but it should have happened a lot sooner.

The families of my murdered colleagues have been put through hell. Firstly they lost their loved ones, stolen from them in the prime of their lives.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

Then they suffered the pain of the farce of the trial of John Downey being thrown out because of one of the despicable on-the-run letters.

And finally they have had to endure being put through the wringer by the Legal Aid Agency who repeatedly refused their application for legal aid.

I am glad that common sense has finally taken hold and the Legal Aid Agency has reversed its previous decisions.

It was obscene that the chief suspect was granted legal aid, yet the families of those murdered were granted none.

It was a stain on our justice system. I hope that lessons will be learned so that never again will the innocent victims and their families be abandoned by those in positions of power and authority.

This is an important step forward for the Hyde Park Justice Campaign.

I congratulate all the families including Sarah Young and especially Mark Tipper who has travelled far and wide to tell people about the void in which the families were left; their lawyers, especially Matthew Jury from McCue & Partners; and SEFF (South East Fermanagh Foundation), who have all been persistent in the pursuit of justice.

No matter how many obstacles were thrown in their way, they never gave up.

It was a privilege to stand with the families as they pursued their fight for justice and during my time in Parliament I did everything I could to ensure that they were not forgotten about whether that was through written and oral questions, writing letters, holding meetings, and physically standing with them as they tried to keep their just case in the media spotlight.

It was good to be able to help build a coalition of support for the campaign amongst MPs and Lords from all parties.

For over three decades the families have lived in the hope that they would see justice being delivered for their loved ones. I hope that day has now come one step closer.

Danny Kinahan, Former Ulster Unionist MP for South Antrim, ex guardsman and colleague of the murdered soldiers, Co Antrim

Morning View: Hyde Park funding is welcome but should only be the beginning