Bloody Sunday: One soldier to face prosecution

Clay Curtis
March 14, 2019

A former British soldier will stand trial for firing on civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland in 1972, an event that came to be known as Bloody Sunday, prosecutors said.

"The decision to prosecute just one ex-soldier does not change the fact that Bloody Sunday was a massacre of innocents", Sinn Fein's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill said in a statement.

In the last few minutes officials from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) have made their long awaited announcement to the families of those shot dead and wounded on January 30, 1972 by the Parachute Regiment in Derry.

However the available evidence surrounding 18 other suspects - 16 paratroopers and two alleged Official IRA members - who were investigated for charges up to and including murder was insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction, prosecutors decided.

"And the Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues".

Families of those who were killed hold a press conference inside the Guildhall in Londonderry after the Public Prosecution Service announced that one solider will face prosecution for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell on Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972.

"In these circumstances the evidence Test for Prosecution is not met".

The ex-soldier has been hand-delivered a letter informing him of the decision.

Although rioting had become routine for Derry's youth, McCann describes the impact of Bloody Sunday as a game-changer in Northern Ireland.

ULSTER Sunday Timeline

Ex-paratroopers have claimed they opened fire after being fired upon first.

The letter went on: "The Ministry of Defence has ensured that all veterans under investigation in Bloody Sunday are aware of the support available, either via their legal representatives or directly".

The PPS pored over more than 125,000 pages of evidence from Bloody Sunday in coming to their decision.

"If you have a family member and something like that happens to them. your brother, your poor dead brother is treated like he never existed, that he wasn't worth justice, what every one of us are entitled to".

The charges follow a decade-long investigation that concluded the soldiers killed unarmed demonstrators.

The then UK Prime Minister David Cameron later apologised for the killings in the House of Commons, in a historic move which many former servicemen in the Bogside that day believed exonerated them.

The Northern Ireland Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Michael Agnew, informed victim's families of the decision at a private meeting this morning.

A short internal military inquiry shortly after Bloody Sunday, known as the Widgery Report, concluded the soldiers had done nothing wrong.

Reflecting on his meeting with the families, the director added: "I am mindful that it has been a long road for the families to reach this point and today will be another extremely hard day for many of them".

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