Belfast Telegraph

Soldier F trial families: ‘We have waited 47 years for this ...part of the process has started today, but it is far from finished’

Members of the Wray and McKinney families and supporters walk to court
Members of the Wray and McKinney families and supporters walk to court
Liam Wray and his sister Margaret
Mickey McKinney (on right) outside court
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood outside court
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

For many of the Bloody Sunday families, the short walk from Londonderry's Diamond to Bishop Street Courthouse in essence took 47 years.

Many of their number had passed away in the years since January 30, 1972.

Many of those left were pensioners whose lives the events of that day had consumed.

Bloody Sunday became one of the most notorious incidents of the Troubles when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on a crowd of civil rights demonstrators, killing 13.

Another man died later from injuries he sustained that day.

Yesterday was the first time a case against a British soldier allegedly involved in the Bloody Sunday killings had come to court.

Soldier F is accused of murdering James Wray and William McKinney.

He is also accused of the attempted murders of Patrick O'Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon and Michael Quinn. He faces a seventh supporting charge of the attempted murder of a person or persons unknown on the day.

The families of those lost that day walked, some of them arm-in-arm, in the early morning sunshine through the city centre to witness the start of the legal process.

Outside the court they embraced one another. Some wiped away tears. Others spoke of their nerves to have arrived at a day they thought they might never see.

Mr McKinney's brother Mickey said: "This is a very significant event for us on the journey towards achieving the third and final demand of the Bloody Sunday justice campaign - the prosecution of a soldier for murder and attempted murder on Bloody Sunday."

Inside courtroom four the families sat silently in the public gallery as the proceedings played out and legal representatives spoke in jargon that not many outside the profession could comprehend or indeed hear due to poor acoustics. Many relatives left the courtroom confused as to what had been agreed and had to have a briefing with court officials to clarify.

Outside, Liam Wray, the brother of James, said it was an "historic day". "It has been a hugely emotional day," he said. "Up until last night I was of a mind that it was just an academic process and we knew the individual facing charges would not be there.

"But this morning the enormity of it hit me. The significance of the day hit me. The historic significance hit me," he said. "We have been waiting 47 years for something to come to court, although it wasn't in the most ideal circumstances, at least we have arrived at that day. Part of the process has started today. But it is far from finished."

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