The Chair of the Bloody Sunday Trust in Derry, has again called on the Secretary of State to resign after releasing a statement on Thursday regarding the Bloody Sunday prosecutions.
Tony Doherty said: “It appears that Karen Bradley cannot utter a single word regarding the legacy of conflict without stumbling into the carnage of Britain’s colonial legacy in Ireland.
“To say, on one hand and in literally the same breath, that she is “indebted to those who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland,” before offering sympathy to the families of those killed on Bloody Sunday, simply beggars belief.”
On Thursday evening, Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley issued a statement commending the “courage and distinction” of soldiers who served in Northern Ireland.
She said: “We are indebted to those who served with courage and distinction to bring peace in Northern Ireland, and I have the deepest sympathy for the suffering of the families of those who were killed on Bloody Sunday and all those who lost loved ones during the Troubles.
“Everyone agrees that the current process for investigating the past in Northern Ireland needs to be reformed.
“That is why we need to get the institutions to investigate the past set up quickly and completed as soon as possible. We Will set out how we intend to move forward shortly.
“As this is now an ongoing legal matter, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.”
Earlier this month, the Secretary of State faced calls to resign after she told the Commons that killings carried out by the security forces “were not crimes”, but rather actions of those “fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way”.
She later tried to clarify her comments before making an apology the following day.
Tony Doherty continued: “Karen Bradley needs to withdraw that statement and needs to resign before she causes more offence tomorrow. Her crassness is fathomless. The British army did not bring peace. To the people of Derry the Parachute Regiment brought murder, mayhem and injustice on a wholesale basis, the impact of which we are still dealing with to the present day.
“To confer the description of peace-keepers on state killers rubs salt on the wounds of the many hundreds of families who lost loved ones to state violence. Karen Bradley’s inability and unwillingness to tell the difference between peace-keeper and perpetrator means that she is unfit for public office and can have no further role here. She should resign and she should do it today.”
With many thanks to: Derry Now for the original story
John Kelly, whose brother Michael died during Bloody Sunday, during a press conference in reaction to the prosecution announcement
One former British paratrooper is to be charged in connection with the killings of civil rights demonstrators in Northern Ireland on Bloody Sunday in January 1972.
The decision was announced by Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) after relatives of the 13 people who died on one of the darkest days of the Troubles marched together through the streets of Derry where the victims fell.
The director of public prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Stephen Herron, said: “It has been concluded that there is sufficient available evidence to prosecute one former soldier, Soldier F, for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney, and for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell.
“In respect of the other 18 suspects, including 16 former soldiers and two alleged Official IRA members, it has been concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.”
Bloody Sunday timeline: from 1972 killings to charges against soldier
On their way to the City hotel, where details of the charges were first revealed to the families, the relatives paused to sing the civil rights anthem We Shall Overcome. The PPS then formally announced the prosecution decisions in Derry’s Guildhall.
The former serviceman has not been named and will only be identified by the letters used during the 12-year-long Saville inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday.
The inquiry found the killings were unjustified and that none of the 14 dead was carrying a gun, no warnings were given, no soldiers were under threat and the troops were the first to open fire.
As well as the 13 who died on the day, 15 others were shot and injured. One of the injured died months later from an inoperable tumour; some consider him the 14th fatality.
Bloody Sunday: the two deaths that led to prosecution
William McKinney, 27
A printer at the Derry Journal newspaper, he was shot dead after he left the safety of cover to try to assist Gerard McKinney (not a relation), who had been shot moments before. He was shot from behind as he bent over.
James Wray, 22
Had been working in England and was engaged. He was shot twice in Glenfada Park. The first bullet travelled “superficially” from right to left across his body, the second bullet entered his back and travelled from right to left.
Photograph: Bloody Sunday Trust/PA
The PPS said prosecutors would now consider charges against others in relation to allegations of perjury relating to the reports surrounding Bloody Sunday.
Herron added: “I am mindful that it has been a long road for the families to reach this point and today will be another extremely difficult day for them.
“There has been a level of expectation around the prosecution decisions in the light of the findings of the Bloody Sunday inquiry. 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.
“We recognise the deep disappointment felt by many of those we met with today. As prosecutors, we are required to be wholly objective in our approach.”
Bloody Sunday: the victims
In its explanation of the decision, the PPS statement says: “In some cases the only evidence of what individual soldiers did was contained within their own accounts [to the inquiry], which are inadmissible against them.”
Soldier F is to be prosecuted for two murders and four attempted murders in the Bogside streets of Glenfada Park North and Abbey Park.
Responding to the PPS decisions, the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, said the government would foot the bill for the former paratrooper’s defence: “We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland. The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to the individual affected by today’s decision. This includes funding all his legal costs and providing welfare support.
“The Ministry of Defence is working across government to drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure our armed forces are not unfairly treated.
“And the government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution.”
A statement on behalf of all of the families was read out in Derry’s Guildhall by four of the relatives of those who died.
John Kelly opened, saying: “I was going to say good morning, but I don’t think it is. There’s a terrible disappointment at the outcome … We have travelled a long journey since out brothers were brutally slaughtered on our streets … The full cost of Bloody Sunday cannot be measured just in those who died that day.” The shootings deepened and prolonged the conflict, he said.
Alana Burke explained that the three aims of the relatives’ campaign had been to overturn the “whitewash” of the initial inquiry led by Lord Widgery, have the innocence of the victims recognised and pursue prosecutions of the soldiers responsible for the killings. The third aim had now been achieved, she added.
Michael McKinney continued: “If these crimes had been investigated properly and evidence gathered then the outcome today would have been different … There can be no statute of limitations used to deny justice, no new laws to protect state killers.”.
Geraldine Doherty said: “Today’s decision is 47 years overdue … Killers should not be given anonymity.” She called for those who were in charge of the army operation to also face prosecution, saying:. “If the senior officer in charge of the police operation at Hillsborough [can face charges] then so too can those who were in charge on Bloody Sunday. There can’t be one law for for the military and political elite and another law for the others.”
With many thanks to: The Guardian and Owen Bowcott Legal affairs coresspondent for the original story