Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Fury at Bloody Sunday cash offer

An offer of £50,000 compensation to the families of those killed and injured on Bloody Sunday has been met with anger from some of the relatives.

The offer was emailed to solicitors representing some of the families from lawyers for the Ministry of Defence.

The information was leaked to the media before some families were informed.

In addition to the families of the 14 dead, the same amount was also offered to 13 other people who were seriously injured on Bloody Sunday.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was among the youngest of the 14 people killed in Londonderry in 1972, said he, like many other relatives, had no interest in compensation.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Kelly said: "I don't really have any comment to make about this, it is in the hands of our solicitors.

"I have no interest whatsoever in compensation. I never had – this is not about pounds, shillings and pence, this is about justice for us. There is only one end goal for me and that is to see the prosecution of the soldiers who murdered my brother and 13 others.

"This is an unnecessary distraction and the MoD would be better to focus on bringing those members of the Parachute Regiment into a court of law, and that's all I can say right now."

These sentiments were echoed by Gerard Duddy, who also seeks prosecution of the soldiers responsible for the death of his brother Jackie, who was the first person shot dead.

He slammed the idea of accepting compensation and hit out at whoever leaked the information to the media.

He said: "Talk to me about prosecutions and then I will have something to say. I don't even want to think about anything else.

"Seeing the soldiers pronounced guilty in a court of law, that's the end game for me, but to find out about this from journalists is totally unacceptable.

"The media knew about this before our solicitors had a chance to contact all of us. That has angered me, but the sum of money, any sum of money, means nothing."

In a statement, Madden and Finucane Solicitors said: "Negotiations in respect of compensation are continuing with the Ministry of Defence and their legal representatives."

In June 2010 the finding of Lord Saville's report into what happened in Derry on Bloody Sunday was published, totally exonerating those who died on the civil rights march.

British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised in Parliament, describing the killings as "unjustified and unjustifiable".

The offer of payment has also reignited the debate over compensating victims.

East Londonderry DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the family of anyone murdered deserves compensation.

However, he added: "On the back of Saville we also have the prospect of soldiers facing criminal charges whilst IRA personnel whose terror activities caused the soldiers to be deployed in the first instance have not thus far been subject to the same investigation."

This is an unwelcome distraction ... I've no interest whatever in a payout

By Donna Deeney

Less than an hour after the news emerged that the Ministry of Defence had made an offer of £50,000 compensation to each of the 14 families whose loved ones were killed in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday, John Kelly and Gerry Duddy struggled to keep their tempers in check.

Both men were waiting at Derry City Council's offices for a third relative to attend a meeting. While they both said they would not comment on the proposed compensation offer, it was easy to see how deeply they were affected by the news.

John, whose brother Michael was shot dead on Bloody Sunday at just 17 years old, struggled to hold back tears.

Whether they were tears of sadness or anger it was hard to tell, but there was no doubting how emotional he felt.

It was almost with a sense of relief, after saying he didn't want to comment, as if he couldn't hold on to the words, that he then added: "I have no interest whatsoever in compensation.

"I never had – this is not about pounds, shillings and pence, this is about justice. There is only one end goal for me and that is to see the prosecution of the soldiers who murdered my brother and 13 others.

"This is an unnecessary distraction and the MoD would be better to focus on bringing those members of the Parachute Regiment to a court of law, and that's all I can say right now."

Sitting beside John, Gerry was scarlet with rage, his anger being two-fold. He was clearly taken aback that reporters were already contacting him, but he shared John's venom about the offer of what he considered "blood money".

The relatives had no idea that when they arranged to take a deputation to the council over a new memorial window in the Guildhall, they would instead be asked for their reaction to an offer of compensation.

John told the committee they had deep concerns over the existing Bloody Sunday window and why they want it replaced.

"We have always had issues with the window that is in place now, largely because we were never consulted and there are a lot of inaccuracies, including spelling mistakes and wrong names used," he said.

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