28 Jun 2022

NATIONAL: 'We will fight on' - Bloody Sunday families told that plans to charge Soldier F with murder to be dropped

Public Prosecution Service not proceeding with prosecutions of two former soldiers for Derry shootings

Sister of James Wray challenging Soldier F anonymity order at High Court

James Wray (left) and William McKinney who died on Bloody Sunday.

The families of Bloody Sunday victims today said they will 'fight on' to get justice for their loved ones.

It follows the decision announced today by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) that charges against a former soldier in connection with the 1972 shootings are not to proceed.

The PPS said it is to withdraw proceedings against Soldier F, a former member of the military facing trial for two charges of murder and five of attempted murder on Bloody Sunday in January 1972.

Separately, proceedings will not be commenced against Soldier B who was to be prosecuted with the murder of 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty in Creggan in July 1972, and of wounding with intent of his cousin Christopher Hegarty.

Families of the victims were told of the decisions not to proceed with the charges at a meeting in the City Hotel in Derry today.

Speaking after the meeting, Mickey McKinney, brother of William McKinney, one of the men that Soldier F had been accused of murdering, said today's announcement represents 'another damning indictment of the British justice system'.

“A mass murderer has been permitted to evade justice without even standing trial,” said Mr Kinney.

“Whilst Soldier F was being prosecuted for two counts of murder on Bloody Sunday, he in fact murdered five people that day.

“There is no dispute that his actions on Bloody Sunday resulted in 2 women being robbed of their husbands, 12 children being orphaned of their father, and dozens of young men and women deprived of a brother. 6 parents also lost a son.

“These are the clear findings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and the responsibility that it attaches directly and unequivocally to the actions of Soldier F.

“Whilst hiding behind the shameful cloak of anonymity, he has so far escaped prosecution for the entirety of the mass murder that he committed on Bloody Sunday and our family, with the support of the other families and wounded shall challenge this decision as far as we can.

“This issue is far from concluded. We will fight on.”

Ciaran Shiels, solicitor, of Madden & Finucane, which represents some of the Bloody Sunday families, said they intend to seek an immediate judicial review of the PPS decision to discontinue the prosecution of Soldier F.

“The reasons underpinning the PPS decision relate to the admissibility of statements made to the Royal Military Police in 1972 by a number of soldiers who were witnesses to events in Glenfada Park.

“The admissibility of RMP statements in relation to the events of Bloody Sunday is a matter already under active judicial consideration by the High Court following proceedings which we lodged last December.

“The High Court will hear detailed legal argument over five days in September. In those circumstances, the decision by the PPS to halt this prosecution is clearly premature in the absence of a High Court ruling on the issue."

Tony Doherty, chairperson of the Bloody Sunday Trust, whose father Patrick was also shot dead by Soldier F, expressed his solidarity with the families of Jim Wray, Willie McKinney and Daniel Hegarty.

"The decision today means that victims of state violence basically have been told that justice cannot be achieved within the Northern State," he said.

"The British government and its agencies have played the dirtiest of games from the very beginning including the Widgery Tribunal, during the Saville Enquiry and during the course of these prosecutions.

"No family should be forced to struggle for 50 years to achieve truth and justice.

"There are no more channels available. British no longer has any moral authority in the North of Ireland," said Mr Doherty.

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