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'Solidarity' event held in Derry for families impacted by PPS decision not to prosecute former soldiers

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Members of the public at the 'solidarity' event in the Guildhall Square on Saturday in support of the families impact by the decision not to prosecute former soldiers in connection with killings in Derry in 1972. Picture Martin McKeown. 03.07.21

Members of the public at the 'solidarity' event in the Guildhall Square on Saturday in support of the families impact by the decision not to prosecute former soldiers in connection with killings in Derry in 1972. Picture Martin McKeown. 03.07.21

Derry City and Strabane District Council Deputy Mayor, Councillor Chris Jackson at the 'solidarity' event in the Guildhall Square on Saturday in support of the families impact by the decision not to prosecute former soldiers in connection with killings in Derry in 1972. Picture Martin McKeown. 03.07.21

Derry City and Strabane District Council Deputy Mayor, Councillor Chris Jackson at the 'solidarity' event in the Guildhall Square on Saturday in support of the families impact by the decision not to prosecute former soldiers in connection with killings in Derry in 1972. Picture Martin McKeown. 03.07.21

SDLP MP Colum Eastwood at the 'solidarity' event in the Guildhall Square on Saturday in support of the families impact by the decision not to prosecute former soldiers in connection with killings in Derry in 1972. Picture Martin McKeown. 03.07.21

SDLP MP Colum Eastwood at the 'solidarity' event in the Guildhall Square on Saturday in support of the families impact by the decision not to prosecute former soldiers in connection with killings in Derry in 1972. Picture Martin McKeown. 03.07.21

Martina Anderson MLA at the 'solidarity' event in the Guildhall Square on Saturday in support of the families impact by the decision not to prosecute former soldiers in connection with killings in Derry in 1972. Picture Martin McKeown. 03.07.21

Martina Anderson MLA at the 'solidarity' event in the Guildhall Square on Saturday in support of the families impact by the decision not to prosecute former soldiers in connection with killings in Derry in 1972. Picture Martin McKeown. 03.07.21

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Members of the public at the 'solidarity' event in the Guildhall Square on Saturday in support of the families impact by the decision not to prosecute former soldiers in connection with killings in Derry in 1972. Picture Martin McKeown. 03.07.21

A 'solidarity' event has taken place in Derry’s Guildhall Square in support of the families impacted by the PPS decision not to prosecute former soldiers in connection with killings in the city in 1972.

The families of those killed on Bloody Sunday have expressed disappointment at the collapse of the trial of Soldier F, saying they will challenge the decision in the High Court.

Proceedings against Soldier B who was to be prosecuted with the murder of 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty in July 1972, and of wounding with intent of his cousin Christopher Hegarty, have also now been withdrawn.

Daniel Hegarty was shot twice in the head close to his home in the Creggan area of the city during what was called Operation Motorman.

Soldier F was accused of murdering James Wray and William McKinney on January 30 1972, when British troops opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in the Bogside area of Derry, killing 13 people.

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The ex-paratrooper was also accused of the attempted murders of Patrick O'Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon and Michael Quinn.

The Bloody Sunday Trust hosted a 'solidarity event' with the Bloody Sunday families and the family of Daniel Hegarty on Saturday afternoon.

It was attended by hundreds of people including SDLP Foyle MP Colum Eastwood, Sinn Fein MLA  Martina Anderson and Derry City and Strabane District Council Deputy Mayor, Councillor Chris Jackson. 

The event outside the city's Guildhall was addressed by relatives of those killed.

Joe McKinney, brother of William, told the rally: “The truth about Bloody Sunday was set free on these steps in June 2010. We will keep going and will continue to pursue justice for our brothers and fathers who were murdered on our streets. We will meet head on any British attempts to subvert justice and the rule of law.” 

Supporters of Relatives For Justice and the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign also gathered outside the High Court in Belfast and Newry courthouse on Saturday afternoon.

In Newry, dozens of supporters held placards calling for no amnesty to be granted for soldiers suspected of criminal offences while serving in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Other held up photographs of the 13 people shot dead on Bloody Sunday following a civil rights march through the city.

Earlier on Saturday former veterans minister Johnny Mercer branded Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis “hopeless” on legacy issues.

Mr Mercer resigned his ministerial post in April after expressing frustration at a lack of progress on legislation to protect British veterans who served during the Troubles from prosecution.

Reacting to the end of the cases against the two soldiers, Mr Mercer said the attempted prosecution should “never have got this far”.

Mr Lewis had previously committed to bringing forward legislation to protect soldiers from legacy prosecutions before the summer recess.

“I’ve got no confidence in the Northern Ireland Secretary whatsoever. He’s completely hopeless on this issue of legacy,” Mr Mercer told Times Radio.

“I think he’s been promising solutions on this for some time, essentially forced me out of government because we couldn’t deliver on our commitments to veterans.

“So, I’ve got no faith at all in the actors who are currently operating in this space.”



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