Belfast Telegraph

Bloody Sunday: The day with no winners - the view of relative and former RUC officer

 

Families of those killed on Bloody Sunday learn one soldier will be prosecuted for murder and attempted murder of six people. Credit: Jonathan Collins, Ulster Image
Families of those killed on Bloody Sunday learn one soldier will be prosecuted for murder and attempted murder of six people. Credit: Jonathan Collins, Ulster Image
Families of those killed on Bloody Sunday learn one soldier will be prosecuted for murder and attempted murder of six people. Credit: Jonathan Collins, Ulster Image
Families of those killed on Bloody Sunday learn one soldier will be prosecuted for murder and attempted murder of six people. Credit: Jonathan Collins, Ulster Image

Yesterday's decision by the PPS in the Bloody Sunday case sharply divided opinion. Here, two people from different sides of the debate have their say.

John Kelly: ‘We are not going to lie down under this, we’re going to take them on’

Yesterday was a very disappointing and distressing day. We were so shocked by the outcome but we can take solace in the fact that at least one soldier, Soldier F, will be prosecuted for two of the killings, of Willie McKinney and Jim Wray. A victory for them is a victory for everyone.

When I heard that no one was to be charged with my brother's murder I was totally devastated. I couldn't take it in. It was as if I wasn't there and it was a dream.

I looked around at my family - my eight sisters and my brother - all sitting around the table listening to this and they were all devastated. People were crying and leaving, not able to believe what they were hearing or seeing.

Michael was very much in my thoughts yesterday. My brother was a 17-year-old boy. He loved to laugh, he kept pigeons, had a girlfriend and worked hard. He was non-political. On the day of Bloody Sunday he went simply because his friends were going and it cost him his life.

His death had a massive impact on our family. My mother Kathleen never got over it. When Michael's body was brought home to our house for the wake he was laid out in the coffin in the back room. We were sitting that night in the wake house and all of a sudden my mother came running into the room.

She had been heavily sedated and she ran to the coffin and bodily lifted my young brother out, holding him and crying out 'Michael son, Michael son'.

My mother kept everything belonging to Michael. She kept the clothes that he died in and his school textbooks. She even kept a Mars Bar that she bought him that Sunday morning and he didn't get to eat. I still have it at home, a 47-year-old Mars Bar.

My mother went to Michael's grave every day in life. One snowy day she walked to the cemetery with a blanket. A woman stopped her and asked her where she was going with it. She told her she was taking it to Michael's grave to keep him warm, because he's going to be cold. My mother saw the start of the Saville Inquiry but she died before the end. Every day after I came from the inquiry I would go and see her in her sick bed and tell her about how the inquiry was going.

When I knew she was coming to the end of her journey I told her a lie that they were all declared innocent. And she said Thank God, son and she went to her grave happy.

We are planning an appeal about yesterday's decisions and will look at a judicial review. We are not going to lay down under this. We are still going to take them on. I would say my brother Michael is looking over my shoulder and saying 'keep at it John' and that is what I intend to do. I'm going to keep at it as far as I can go. The last thing we want to do is to pass this on to the next generation, we want to finish the job.

John Kelly's brother, Michael, was shot dead by soldiers of the 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday

Alan Simpson: ‘Why it’s important that we beware vengeance dressed up as justice’

Yesterday, the Public Prosecution Service delivered its decision on the evidence available to it about the horrific events of Bloody Sunday - that there is only the prospect of obtaining a conviction against Soldier "F" for two murders and several attempted murders.

This followed a 12-year enquiry by Lord Saville and a two-year criminal investigation by detectives from the PSNI.

There is bound to be disappointment among many of the relatives of those killed or wounded on that fateful day that not all seventeen soldiers involved are to face trial.

I served as a police officer during most of the Troubles and finished my career as a CID Detective Superintendent. I reached that rank by investigating scores of crimes and presenting my evidence to the equivalent of the Public Prosecution Service

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 soon found that they were scrupulously fair in only proceeding with a prosecution if there was a reasonable prospect of a conviction.

In my early days, I often felt frustrated at their findings, but as I gained more experience, I realised that there was much wisdom in their decision-making.

There can be few things worse than charging someone with a serious crime on flimsy evidence, as it can be life-changing for those in the dock and their families.

We should realise that we all benefit greatly from having such a fair and strictly objective Prosecution Service that is completely insulated from political interference.

Their decision-making is reflected in the high number of convictions in our courts for serious crimes, and much of this is due to presenting only cases where there is strong evidence.

Several other cases arising from the Troubles are active in the form of inquests, and here I think mainly about the Ballymurphy and Kingsmill massacres.

No doubt many of the relatives of the victims of these tragic events are anticipating satisfaction in the possibility of prosecutions of those involved.

I completely understand that for many it is difficult so many years later to contextualise the situations that existed at the relevant time and it's impossible to replicate them in the quiet, controlled atmosphere of a courtroom.

Looking back almost half a century, I can hardly believe the events that my colleagues and I experienced during those horrible, turbulent years.

In those circumstances of so long ago, it's impossible to imagine that true justice can now be delivered and I, therefore, think it only fair to advise those relatives to lower their expectations in that respect.

Much better that, than vengeance disguised as justice should occur.

Retired RUC Detective Superintendent Alan Simpson was a probationer constable in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday

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