Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Official IRA pair could face charges over Bloody Sunday

PPS reveals news in letter sent to families of victims

By Eamon Sweeney

The PSNI has reported a former Official IRA member to the Public Prosecution Service and is preparing a dossier on another over the republican organisation's activities on Bloody Sunday, it can be revealed.

The disclosure comes in a letter sent from the PPS to relatives of Bloody Sunday victims, which has been obtained by the Belfast Telegraph.

It outlines why no decision has yet been taken on whether or not to prosecute soldiers for their involvement in the killings. A decision is not expected for another six months.

Thirteen people were shot dead when members of the Army's Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in Londonderry on January 30, 1972. A 14th person died later.

The PSNI began a murder investigation after the Saville Report on the killings in 2010 said that those who were killed or injured on Bloody Sunday were innocent.

Last December it emerged police had submitted a report to the PPS after interviewing former soldiers.

The letter sent by the PPS refers to the PSNI dossier on the Official IRA suspect. It states that police have submitted: "One lever arch file in respect of an additional suspect who has been reported to the PPS by the PSNI.

"The suspect is not a soldier and is not alleged to have shot any civilian. The file relates to alleged Official IRA activity on Bloody Sunday."

During the course of the 12-year Saville Inquiry into the events surrounding Bloody Sunday, five former members of the Official IRA were granted anonymity before giving testimony.

Among the five was the officer then in command of the organisation in the north west. In 2003, two of the men admitted that they had fired at soldiers on the day.

One said that he fired a single shot from a rifle before troops entered the Bogside and another admitted firing two pistol shots at the paratroopers.

The gunman who discharged the rifle round said that he did so after hearing that two civilians had been wounded by soldiers.

The letter from the PPS says that the first republican suspect has been reported to it by the police "for offences potentially arising out of Official IRA activity on Bloody Sunday and the prosecution will be applying the test for prosecution in respect of this person in exactly the same way that the test will be applied in respect of the accused soldiers.

"It is anticipated that any decision in respect of this accused will be taken at the same time as the decision in respect of the accused soldiers ... there is only one lever arch file in respect of this suspect and as such it is not envisaged that consideration of the case against this suspect will affect the timescale in the case in any material way."

On the evidence gathered against another Official IRA suspect, the letter says: "It is also understood that some further material is going to be received by the PPS from the police.

"I have been advised that some people who have not previously provided statements to the police (although they may have given evidence at the Inquiry) are due to record statements of evidence, so there is some further material in that respect due.

"In addition I understand that one further suspect may be reported (although this again is not a soldier and not a person alleged to have shot any civilian - it again relates to alleged Official IRA activity on Bloody Sunday).

"My understanding is that it is anticipated that this will be the final suspect on this file and the prosecution do not envisage that consideration of the case against that suspect will have any great effect on the timescale in the case."

The PPS letter states that it is likely to be another six months before a decision on prosecutions over Bloody Sunday is reached.

It adds: "There still remains a large amount of evidence to work through, which makes providing a precise timetable difficult, but the prosecution would hope that within six months we would be moving towards taking a final decision in this case."

Those who died on Bloody Sunday were Patrick 'Paddy' Doherty (31), Gerald Donaghey (17), John 'Jackie' Duddy (17), Hugh Gilmour (17), Michael Kelly (17), Michael McDaid (20), Kevin McElhinney (17), Bernard 'Barney' McGuigan (41), Gerald McKinney (35), William 'Willie' McKinney (26), William Nash (19), James 'Jim' Wray (22), John Young (17), and John Johnston (59), who was shot twice on Bloody Sunday, and died later that year.

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