Bloody Sunday families 'not finished yet' after soldier's prosecution

Bloody Sunday prosecutions

The more credible Saville inquiry didn't begin until 1998.

Linda Nash, the brother of William Nash, a 19-year-old killed on the day, was tearful when she emerged from the hotel.

The day came to be known as Bloody Sunday, one of the worst days of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

That greeting was in recognition of, and tribute to, the dignity and strength the Bloody Sunday families had shown not just yesterday, but throughout the past five decades in their determined quest for justice.

As with all military witnesses at the Saville Inquiry, the former paratrooper was granted anonymity as he gave evidence. However, he could be identified when he is brought to trial.

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".

Reacting to the announcement by the PPS this morning, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "Clearly, we are indebted to those who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland".

"The PPS report will have to be studied very carefully and today is not a day for knee jerk reactions as it is crucial that legacy issues are dealt with in detail by both the Irish and British governments".

Prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence to charge 16 other former soldiers and two alleged members of the Official Irish Republican Army who were investigated for their roles in the shootings, which killed 13 people and injured 15 others.

Most suspects are now in their 60s and 70s.

Bloody Sunday prosecutions
John Kelly comforts Alana Burke

"I$3 t has been concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction", the statement said.

"The families of the victims should be honoured for their determination, dignity and continued bravery on behalf of those who were so brutally murdered and they will continue to be supported", Mr Martin said.

"However, much of the material which was available for consideration by the Inquiry is not admissible in criminal proceedings, due to strict rules of evidence that apply", he said.

"We will show people that we will not tolerate one of ours being prosecuted when 300 convicted killers were released from jail and 150 "on the run" letters were handed out to those who weren't apprehended". "However, that does not mean that we do not have compassion for all those who are affected by our decisions".

The Bloody Sunday families hold a press conference at the Guildhall in Derry on Thursday after being informed by the Public Prosecution Service that it will pursue prosecutions against the British soldiers involved in the deaths of 13 unarmed men in the Derry Bogside on January 30th 1972.

'This was feared because we have been let down so many times by those who should have supported us, ' he said.

"We are mindful of those families who received that news today, and believe me, there are many", he told the BBC. "Do not deny us justice any longer".

"Notwithstanding the unprecedented attempted political interference with the independence of the judicial process, the families have not only succeeded in consigning the Widgery report to history, and securing the complete vindication and declaration of innocence of all of the victims of Bloody Sunday through the Saville Inquiry, they have now secured the prosecution of Soldier F for the murder and attempted murder of six innocent people".

The Bloody Sunday killings caused widespread anger at the time - not least in the United States, where support for the Irish Republican cause runs high - and almost 50 years later the incident remains highly emotive.

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