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Bloody Sunday relative weeps as ex-soldier arrested over death of brother

By Donna Deeney

The sister of one of the Bloody Sunday victims said she broke down in tears when she was told a former paratrooper had been arrested in connection with the death of her brother William.

Kate Nash said when she was told the news she had waited almost 44 years to hear, she was left "shaking like a leaf".

A police liaison officer told Ms Nash that a 66-year-old man they suspected was responsible for three of the 14 deaths on Bloody Sunday - her brother William Nash (19), John Young (17) and Michael McDaid (20) - had been arrested in Co Antrim.

He was also detained on suspicion of the attempted murder of Kate's father, Alexander Nash.

The arrest marks a major development in the PSNI investigation, as he is the first soldier to be brought in for questioning about 14 people killed after the Army opened fire on crowds of protesters in Derry's Bogside in January 1972.

The pensioner was taken to a police station in Belfast and quizzed by detectives from the Legacy Investigation Branch, a UK-wide team of police officers set up specifically to investigate Bloody Sunday.

The man heading the team, Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison, said the arrest of the former soldier "marked a new phase in the overall investigation which would continue for some time".

Ms Nash told the Belfast Telegraph that the arrest left her feeling "uncomfortably happy".

She added: "I was really shocked when the PSNI family liaison officer rang me with this news; it was a real bolt out of the blue and I was left shaking like a leaf.

"She told me the soldier was who they suspected was responsible for the deaths at the barricade, my brother William, Michael McDaid and John Young, and for shooting my father as well.

"It was very emotional, I cried listening to her but it is what we have been waiting nearly 44 years for and I do hope it will not be long before other soldiers are also arrested.

"This is the next step on our journey to get justice for our loved ones, getting the soldiers responsible into court will be our final step and we won't stop until then."

The solicitor representing most of the families said the arrest of the former soldier - understood to be 'Soldier J' in the Saville Inquiry report - was a welcome development.

Thirteen people were killed by members of the Parachute Regiment on the day of the incident. Another victim of the shootings died in hospital four months later.

In his report published in 2010, Lord Saville found that the paratroopers shot first and gave no warnings before opening fire on the innocent civilians who were taking part in a Civil Rights march. He said some of those who died were fleeing the gunfire or helping victims when they too were shot.

Following publication of the report, Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the Army's actions, branding them "unjustified and unjustifiable".

Kate Nash whose brother William was shot dead on Bloody Sunday
Kate Nash whose brother William was shot dead on Bloody Sunday
William Nash

Mickey McKinney, whose brother William McKinney was one of those killed, also welcomed the arrest.

"We are hopeful this is the start now of bringing in suspects to be questioned," he said.

"Our quest for justice goes on. We are not going to stop until the people responsible for the murders are in court and sentenced."

SDLP councillor Brian Tierney said the families should not be forced to wait any longer for justice.

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