Belfast Telegraph

'One soldier too many' say veterans group as Bloody Sunday paratrooper faces murder trial

The founder of a veterans group has said that the prosecution of a former paratrooper for two murders on Bloody Sunday is "one too many".

Founder of the Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans group Alan Barry was speaking after it was announced 'soldier F' 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.

St Mary's Church, on the Creggan Estate, during the Requiem Mass for the 13 who died on 'Bloody Sunday' in Londonderry.
St Mary's Church, on the Creggan Estate, during the Requiem Mass for the 13 who died on 'Bloody Sunday' in Londonderry.
30th January 1972: An armed soldier and a protestor on Bloody Sunday when British Paratroopers shot dead 13 civilians on a civil rights march.
A young Fr Edward Daly carries a blood-soaked hankie as he leads a group of men trying desperately to carry John 'Jackie' Duddy to safety. Duddy (17) was the first fatality of Bloody Sunday after being shot from behind by paratroopers
A young Fr Edward Daly (now Bishop Daly) carries a blood-soaked hankie as he leads a group of men trying desperately to carry John 'Jackie' Duddy to safety. Duddy (17) was the first fatality of Bloody Sunday after being shot from behind by paratroopers
Bloody Sunday
A scene showing a British paratrooper near Glenfada Park in Derry where Bloody Sunday took place.
Hugh Gilmore (third left) seen clutching his stomach as he is shot during Bloody Sunday.
Paddy Doherty, who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
William McKinney, killed on Bloody Sunday.
Scenes from 'Bloody Sunday' in Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Lt Col Derek Wilford, the former commander of the members of the Parachute Regiment involved in the Bloody Sunday shootings
A protest parade in was staged in Londonderry in January to mark the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday
Hugh Gilmore who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Michael McDaid who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
:Bloody Sunday.
Soldiers taking cover behind their sandbagged armoured cars during Bloody Sunday
Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery in his room at the Old Bailey as he looks through his report on the "Bloody Sunday" shootings
Jim Wray who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
John Young who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
William McKinney who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Kevin McElhinney who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Gerard McKinney who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Gerald Donaghey who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Alana Burke who was eighteen when she was run over by an armoured personnel carrier on Bloody Sunday.
Bloody Sunday. January 1972
Patrick Doherty who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Bloody Sunday. Funeral. Mrs Ita McKinney, 9 months pregnant cries behind the hearse carrying her husband James from St Mary's, Creggan. 2/2/1972.
Michael Kelly who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
A man receiving attention during the shooting incident in Londonderry, which became known as Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday. 30/1/1972
Bloody Sunday. 30/1/1972
Bloody Sunday. 30/1/1972
JAMES WRAY IN HIS HOME IN THE BOGSIDE DERRY HOLDING THE COAT WITH BULLIET HOLES IN THAT HIS SON ALSO CALLED JAMES WRAY WAS KILLED ON BLOODY SUNDAY
The start of a grim day in Derry. Civil Rights marchers make their way through Creggan. They defied a Government ban and headed for Guildhall Square, but were stopped by the Army in William Street. 31/1/1972
Bloody Sunday 1972
Linda Nash carries flowers with the number 14 inscribed during yesterdays annual Bloody Sunday Parade in Derry. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 29.1.12
A memorial to those killed on Bloody Sunday in the Bogside area of Derry
The memorial to the 14 people who died on Bloody Sunday in Derry rises from among the sea of umbrellas as all the families came together in an ecumenical service. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights mark.The service included contributions from Father Michael Canny and Reverend David Latimer, left. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 29.1.12

Thirteen civil rights demonstrators were shot dead in Londonderry on January 30 1972, on one of the most notorious days of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Sixteen other veterans and two ex-members of the Official IRA, all of whom were investigated, will not face prosecution.

"It's one soldier too many as far as we're concerned," Mr Barry said.

"It's very one-sided. No soldier should be charged. It happened 47 years ago, a line in the sand needs to be drawn and people need to move on."

Conservative MP and former British Army officer Johnny Mercer was also critical.

"When I speak of a chasm between those who serve and their political masters in this country, I mean this," he tweeted.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said soldier F would have the full support of the Ministry of Defence, including paying his legal costs, while Government was working on reforms he said would "ensure" forces personnel were not "unfairly treated".

"We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland," Mr Williamson said.

"The Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution."

The soldiers were members of a support company of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment.

Prosecutors had been considering evidence in relation to counts of murder, attempted murder and causing grievous injury with intent.

UUP MLA and former British Army soldier Doug Beattie reacted to the announcement on Twitter, saying "there are no winners here. Just victims".

"It's important to remember their families today," he wrote.

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