Bloody Sunday soldier faces murder charges

The relatives’ lawyers will now begin a judicial review to force the prosecution of at least some of the 16 veterans

John Kelly, a representative for the families of the victims, told reporters and onlookers, "There's a awful disappointment at the outcome".

After decades of marching through the cold and the rain, under hail and winter sun, the Bloody Sunday families came together under grey skies yesterday to march in the hope of gaining justice for their loved ones.

Northern Ireland's director of public prosecutions 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".

"For now though, this is a day to commend and offer our ongoing solidarity to all the Bloody Sunday families and campaigners".

"Their hearts must be broken", he said.

"I am mindful that it has been a long road for the families to reach this point and today will be another extremely hard day for them", Herron said.

Ciaran Shiels, a solicitor for a number of them, said they were "disappointed that not all of those responsible are to face trial".

Despite everything they have faced over the years, the families have always conducted themselves with incredible dignity and grace.

Kate Nash, who was 23 when her 19-year-old brother, William Nash, was killed and her father, Alex, injured, said she was "very, very saddened" by the decision.

One of Saville's more damming conclusions was that Wray was shot twice - once as he ran away, and once as he was on the ground. Some will say quite reasonably that this is the end of the road; they've got a prosecution and that should satisfy people.

In the incident, British paratroopers fired on Catholic civil rights protesters, killing 14 people.

One of the organisers of the Bloody Sunday march, former assembly member Eamonn McCann, said the families would be happy with plans to prosecute Soldier F but said there was "distress" that more prosecutions were not brought.

"Willie was not a stone-thrower, a bomber or a gunman". It also found that soldiers lied to the inquiry.

Hugh Gilmore (third left) clutching his stomach after he was shot during Bloody Sunday.

"All four soldiers insisted they had shot at people carrying bombs or firearms - claims rejected by Saville".

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However, Saville concluded Mr Kelly was unarmed.

Liam Wray, brother of victim James Wray, said he was relieved that an ex-soldier would be prosecuted for his brother's murder after 47 years.

"Consideration will now be given to allegations of perjury in respect of those suspects reported by police", he said.

Soldier F reportedly joined the Parachute Regiment in 1966.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman said: "Clearly, we are indebted to those who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland".

"The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance", Williamson said in a statement.

Mr Williamson said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was working to "drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure our armed forces are not unfairly treated".

"The Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution", he added.

The report also found that some of the soldiers had lied to hide their actions, that their commanders had disobeyed standing orders by sending them into the area that day, that five of the soldiers had opened fire knowing that their targets posed no threat, and that two other soldiers had fired without being sure.

A 12-year, 5,000-page report that took evidence from almost 2,500 individuals reached a different conclusion in 2010.

A file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in November 2016.

The Irish Government has said its thoughts "are with the families of those who were killed and injured" by the Bloody Sunday shootings after just one of 16 soldiers were told they face criminal charges over what happened.

"In these circumstances the evidence Test for Prosecution is not met".

He said: "There have been many hard days since January 30, 1972".

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