Irish Republican News · October 16, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: The bigger Bloody Sunday cover-up
The bigger Bloody Sunday cover-up

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Relatives of those killed in the infamous Bloody Sunday massacre have denounced a police ‘investigation’ into the murders after it emerged that 55 British soldiers present that day are refusing to be questioned.

The massacre of civil rights protestors has always had the appearance of a deliberate colonial strategy to suppress nationalist oppression to British rule.

Within a period of 30 minutes on January 30, 1972, the British Parachute Regiment had shot 13 dead and injured almost two dozen. A fourteenth victim later died of his injuries.

After the massacre, the British military claimed they had been attacked first and accused the protesters of being ‘terrorists’ and members of the IRA. This was always rejected as a lie and is now officially discredited.

But Kate Nash, whose 19-year-old brother William was among those shot dead when the paratroopers opened fired on January 30, 1972, has said the British government and PSNI police are engaged in a larger cover-up.

She believes the soldiers were told to fire upon unarmed demonstrators, rather than the shooting being the result of troops disobeying orders as the Saville Inquiry claimed in 2010.

No action was taken in response to that inquiry by the PSNI or judicial authorities for two years, a source of much anger for relatives. In July 2012 a murder investigation was finally launched following intense public pressure.

Ciaran Shiels from Madden and Finucane solicitors, a lawyer representing the families, said that the current investigation has been an uphill battle from the beginning.

“It is important to bear in mind that after the Saville inquiry reported in 2010, it wasn’t a matter that the PSNI of its own volition took to investigate -- even though Saville had said that these people had been shot without justification,” he said.

“We had to write both to the Chief Constable and the Public Prosecution Service saying there is prima facie evidence here of attempted murder on a grand scale and what are the PSNI going to do about it?”

NO ARRESTS, NO INTERVIEWS

No arrests have been made, and families were told that the military suspects -- the soldiers identified in the Saville report as having fired the fatal shots -- have yet to be interviewed.

In the latest information to emerge, the PSNI’s senior investigative officer Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Ian Harrison said 34 military witnesses had been recorded but a further 55 had “declined to engage with the team.”

For Kate Nash and the other families of the dead, it has felt like another bitter blow in their long campaign for justice. She criticised the PSNI, saying the stalling of the police investigations was “soul-destroyingly frustrating.”

“The police told us that they couldn’t compel them to come forward, but that is absolute nonsense -- because these 55 witnesses to massacre should be fully aware there is another crime called withholding evidence, and we know that very well. They could do the right thing now, but they don’t. In some of the cases, they have the bullet, they have the gun that leads to the solder and the police agreed this is solid evidence, so why haven’t they arrested him?”

Shiels, the solicitor, said it didn’t appear to have occurred to the police that they could and should compel the British Army members to co-operate, and that they could be charged and jailed for failing to do so.

“In respect of murder, when one withholds information, it can be punishable by up to ten years imprisonment,” he said. “It is an arrestable offence, and the position of the families would be that soldiers who are suspected of withholding relevant information should be warned that they are themselves at risk of arrest and prosecution. So it came as an issue of very serious and immediate concern to the families that there seemed to be an attitude of the PSNI that is someone doesn’t want to co-operate with us there is nothing we can do about it. “

He also said stressed that a great number of civilian witnesses that day would have been fleeing for their lives or hiding from the barrage of bullets the soldiers were firing, while those soldiers not firing at the crowd would have had a privileged and safe view of events.

INQUIRY STOPPED SHORT

Kate Nash believes that the findings of the Saville inquiry, as scathing as they were, did not reveal the full truth of the events of the day, and there are political reasons why the police are not investigating the murders fully. The British government, she says, is afraid of what the soldiers might say if they were in court.

“It is a terrible blow to us all. They could arrest soldiers right now and the fact is they are not. The government doesn’t want to take soldiers to court, and I’ll tell you why -- because it went further than those soldiers,” she said.

“[Saville] concluded that one officer and nine soldiers were responsible for what happened -- [the report] said the officer had disobeyed orders but the same officer was actually given an OBE at the end of 1972 and those soldiers were all given medals of honour. If they were given medals then obviously they had done good work. They were ordered in there, we know that.”

She recounted how her brother’s dying body was abused by the soldiers.

“When William was shot, my father ran out under a hail of bullets try and help him, and he was shot and injured in his arm and in his side,” Nash said. “William’s body was dragged out of his arms by the army and he was taken into the back of a [military] van. My father never really got over the way they dragged his body away from him like that.”

Her mother had been in hospital and did not attend the march, and was only well enough to be told about the death on the day of William’s funeral.

“She was well sedated when my father and the local priest told her, and she didn’t react -- there was just silence. It was when she got home a few days later she walked through the front door, she just started screaming his name, and that screaming lasted for a long time. A very long time.”

© 2015 Irish Republican News