Belfast Telegraph

Bloody Sunday: Decision is a slap in the face but we will fight on, say families

By Suzanne Breen

Bloody Sunday families have vowed to legally challenge the decision to prosecute only one soldier for the killings, which they described as a "slap in the face" for their justice campaign.

Relatives of the 13 people shot dead in Londonderry in 1972 said they had expected up to four paratroopers to be charged.

"My heart is broken. I am devastated," said Kate Nash, whose 19-year-old brother Willie was one of those killed.

"This is our worst day since Bloody Sunday. But we will dust ourselves down and the fight will go on."

Soldier F will face charges for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said.

However, it declared that 16 other former soldiers, and two suspected ex-members of the Official IRA, all of whom were also investigated, will not face prosecution.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP said they shared the families' disappointment at only one prosecution.

However, the DUP and TUV leader Jim Allister said there was too much focus on security force killings and that IRA victims were being forgotten. Mr Allister asked: "Why is Bloody Sunday more important than Bloody Friday?"

The Bloody Sunday families gathered in the Guildhall yesterday to hear the PPS decision.

Ms Nash said: "I left home certain that I would get justice for Willie. I am shocked, absolutely gutted, that I did not.

The Bloody Sunday families carried a banner reading ‘towards justice’ as they marched to Londonderry’s Guildhall on Thursday (Niall Carson/PA)
The Bloody Sunday families carried a banner reading ‘towards justice’ as they marched to Londonderry’s Guildhall on Thursday (Niall Carson/PA)
John Kelly comforts Alana Burke
Families embraced after the march (Niall Carson/PA)
A minute’s silence at the Guildhall (Niall Carson/PA)
Families of those killed in Bloody Sunday speak to the media at the Guild Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Relatives march to the Guildhall (Niall Carson/PA)
Relatives of those who died on Bloody Sunday after hearing the prosecution decision (Niall Carson/PA)
(PA Graphics)
Families march through the Bogside in Derry (Liam McBurney/PA)
John Kelly whose brother Michael was killed on Bloody Sunday (Niall Carson/PA)
James Wray (left) and William McKinney, who died on Bloody Sunday (PA/Bloody Sunday Trust)
The Bloody Sunday Memorial in Derry’s Bogside (Liam McBurney/PA)
Mickey McKinney looks at a photo on the wall of the Museum of Free Derry (Liam McBurney/PA)
A mural in Derry depicting Dr Edward Daly during Bloody Sunday in January 1972 (Liam McBurney/PA)
Families of those died march through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, towards the Guildhall ahead of the announcement as to whether 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA will be prosecuted in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
John McKinney holds a picture of his brother, William, as the families of those who died march through the Bogside in Londonderry, in Northern Ireland, ahead of an announcement over the prosecution of 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Families of those died march through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, towards the Guildhall ahead of the announcement as to whether 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA will be prosecuted in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Families of those died march through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, towards the Guildhall ahead of the announcement as to whether 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA will be prosecuted in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Retransmission, amending byline. Politicians Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill (left), Elisha McCallion, MP for Foyle, (centre) and SDLP's Colum Eastwood (right) join families before a march through the Bogside in Londonderry, in Northern Ireland, ahead of an announcement over the prosecution of 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Families of those who died march through the Bogside in Londonderry, in Northern Ireland, ahead of an announcement over the prosecution of 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Families, relatives and supporters of those who died march through Londonderry, in Northern Ireland, ahead of an announcement over the prosecution of 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Bloody Sunday Trust undated handout photos of (top row, left to right) Patrick Doherty, Bernard McGuigan, John "Jackie" Duddy and Gerald Donaghey, (bottom row, left to right) Gerard McKinney, Jim Wray, William McKinney and John Young who were killed on Bloody Sunday. Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions has announced that a 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. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday March 14, 2019. Thirteen civil rights demonstrators were shot dead on January 30 1972, in Londonderry on one of the most notorious days of the Northern Ireland Troubles. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Bloody Sunday Trust/PA Wire
Families, relatives and supporters of those died gather outside the Guildhall in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, after the announcement from the Public Prosecution Service that one former paratrooper, soldier F is to be charged with two murders and four attempted murders during Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Families, relatives and supporters of those died gather outside the Guildhall in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, after the announcement from the Public Prosecution Service that one former paratrooper, soldier F is to be charged with two murders and four attempted murders during Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Supporters hold a posters of Edward Heath former British Prime Minister and General Sir Michael David Jackson outside the city hotel Londonderry, Northern Ireland ahead of the announcement as to whether 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA will be prosecuted in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Linda Nash whose youngest brother William Nash died on Bloody Sunday with Eamonn McCann outside the city hotel Londonderry, Northern Ireland ahead of the announcement as to whether 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA will be prosecuted in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
L-R Gerry Duddy, Mickey McKinney, John Kelly and the 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. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
John Kelly comforts Alana Burke who was injured on Bloody Sunday reacts during the press conference at the Guildhall in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, after the announcement from the Public Prosecution Service that one former paratrooper, soldier F is to be charged with two murders and four attempted murders during Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
L-R Linda Nash, holds an image of their brother William Nash who was killed on Bloody Sunday, and Kate Nash holds an image of their father Alex Nash who was wounded on the day 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. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
A woman listens on during 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. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Relatives of those who died march to the Guildhall in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, after the announcement from the Public Prosecution Service that one former paratrooper, soldier F is to be charged with two murders and four attempted murders during Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Two woman watch on as 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.PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
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. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Relatives of those who died on Bloody Sunday leaving a briefing with DPP Stephen Herron at the City Hotel Londonderry, Northern Ireland, after the announcement from the Public Prosecution Service that one former paratrooper, soldier F is to be charged with two murders and four attempted murders during Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood (left) and new Fine Gael MEP candidate Mark Durkan attending 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. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 14, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Sunday. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
John Teggart from the Ballymurphy Families speaks with Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill and SDLP's Colum Eastwood at the City Hotel in Derry. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
L-R Jean Hegarty, sister of Kevin McElhinney, John Wray, brother of James Wray, and Paddy Nash, brother of William Nash, stand for a minute's silence with the families of those who were killed, ahead of a press conference inside the Guildhall in Londonderry. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

"I am delighted for the Wray and McKinney families, but the decision is a huge slap in the face for the rest of us. But we have no intention of giving up. We will ask the PPS to review the decision not to prosecute the others, and we also plan to mount a legal challenge in the courts."

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was killed, said: "It is unbelievable that only soldier F will be prosecuted. It is scandalous. In my view every one of them should be prosecuted for murder and attempted murder.

"We had heard rumours that there would be four - and we were disappointed at the thought of that - but I am totally devastated in the fact that Soldier F has got away with Michael's murder.

"In saying that, he will be prosecuted for two other murders and their victory is our victory and I will take solace from that."

Michael McKinney, whose brother William is one of the two murders Soldier F will be charged with, said he shared the disappointment of the other Bloody Sunday relatives, while they shared his family's relief.

"I think the soldier will be charged within the next few days and things will be set in place, this has to start happening right away," he said.

There was a mixed reaction among unionist politicians. DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the IRA's murder of two RUC officers in the days leading up to Bloody Sunday was being airbrushed from history.

"The facts also remain that 90% of deaths in Northern Ireland were at the hands of illegal terrorist groups who existed solely to murder and cause destruction," he said.

"There is still a disproportionate focus however on the small proportion of the 10% of deaths attributed to those who were attempting to serve the community in difficult and often very dangerous situations."

Linda and Kate Nash with photos of their brother Michael and father Alex
Linda and Kate Nash with photos of their brother Michael and father Alex
DUP MP Gregory Campbell
UUP MLA Doug Beattie
Relatives of victims in the Guildhall

Mr Allister said: "While insatiable demands for wholesale prosecutions may have perished on the rock that prosecutions are only possible where there is sufficient evidence, the hierarchy that has elevated Bloody Sunday families above all others is hard to take.

"In 1972, we also had Bloody Friday, but IRA murders don't count it seems when it comes to this distorted dealing with the past. The pursuit of soldiers while terrorists continue to go scot-free is now very much part of the rewrite of history so promoted by IRA/Sinn Fein, who themselves still withhold information on multiple murders."

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said the decision to prosecute must be respected and nobody was above the law.

"The PSNI looked at the evidence, passed it to the PPS and they decided - based on the evidence - to prosecute one former soldier. This is the law, it must be respected by all and it is now for the courts to decide," he said.

"Nobody is above the law and nobody should be held to a greater or lesser standard than anyone else. My thoughts remain with the families of all the innocent victims of the Troubles."

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said that her party shared the families' disappointment and "incredulity" that only one soldier would be charged but that prosecution was still "a significant achievement".

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the decision to prosecute only one paratrooper did not vindicate the actions of the others.

The families' justice campaign had been met with "prevarication, equivocation and obstruction at every level", he added.

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said: "Our organisation holds a consistent policy on criminal violence whether perpetrated by terrorists or individual members of the security forces.

"The PPS has found that tests have been met for Soldier F to face prosecution for two deaths and a number of other attempted killings; the law must now run its course".

But he added that the "overwhelming majority" of security force members had "performed their role with honour, integrity and immense restraint".

Lowry Mathers, whose wife Joanne was shot dead by the IRA in Derry while collecting census forms in 1981, said: "It's all very well getting justice for Bloody Sunday. But what about me? What about my son?

"There is absolutely no justice for us and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth," he said.

Alliance leader Naomi Long said it was a day of "very mixed emotions for the families who lost loved ones on Bloody Sunday, and for all of those injured or bereaved in the Troubles".

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