Relatives of some of those killed and wounded on Bloody Sunday have said they are not surprised by a High Court ruling in London that those involved in the massacre will not be taken to Ireland for questioning.
The seven former paratroopers who brought the legal challenge have still not been questioned by any police force over the events of January 30, 1972, in which 14 civil rights demonstrators in Derry were killed and a further 15 were injured.
The basis for the former Paratrooper’s lodging their objections at the High Court began in early November after the arrest of the soldier known as ‘Lance Corporal J’, who lives in Ireland. He was arrested at his home in Antrim and questioned at a police station in Belfast before being released.
The High Court in London granted the seven former British soldiers an order prohibiting the PSNI from arresting them on their undertaking “that they will attend for an interview under caution... to be carried out by the PSNI at a police station in England and Wales, or other acceptable location”.
The three judges agreed with the former soldiers that their lives would be put at risk by being questioned in Ireland, and that there was little point in the questioning.
They said: “The present position of the claimants is that each will exercise their right to silence in the interviews. It is, in our view, almost impossible to foresee that any will depart from that position. The interviews are therefore likely to be short and straightforward.”
Mickey McKinney, whose brother William was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, said it was simply a continuation of what went on at the Saville Inquiry some ten years ago.
He questioned the supposed threat to their security. “If the Queen on Prince Charles can come to northern Ireland and receive protection from the PSNI, then why can’t they?”
Kate Nash, whose brother William was shot dead on Bloody Sunday and whose father Alex was seriously wounded, also said she expected them to “continuously move the goalposts”.
“The next move we expect will be an insistence on anonymity, then it will be that they will have to be tried in England and then it will proceed to attempting to stop in on national security grounds,” she said.
“What they need to know however is that we will continue to fight this and seek justice. We are not prepared to give up on this, it is too important.”
Both Mickey McKinney and Kate Nash said that the PSNI needed to initiate the arrest procedures straight away.
“What needs to happen now is that we need to get on with it and get these guys interviewed and get files sent to the Public Prosecution Service. Let’s get this moving,” said Mr McKinney.
DARK HAND OF PRINCE CHARLES
Kate Nash also queried whether the commander-in-chief of the Parachute Regiment had sight of secret military and government documents relating to Bloody Sunday.
It was revealed this week through the Freedom of Information Act that Prince Charles has been receiving Cabinet papers on a range of subjects for decades and writing his thoughts on them to various Ministers.
It has been revealed that both Charles Windsor and his mother, Queen Elizabeth, receive all cabinet memoranda, including highly classified discussion documents that are only publicly released after 30 years. The revelation has renewed allegations that the English royals retains significant powers over the day-to-day lives of those living under their jurisdiction.
Kate Nash says the affair also raises serious questions as to influence of the Prince in the Bloody Sunday cover-up.
“It is outrageous that he is given preference over victims,” she said. “Not only does Charles see the documents but he isn’t slow to tell Ministers what he thinks of them and what should be done.
“Everyone who has campaigned for truth and justice regarding Bloody Sunday should speak out and demand the details of the material Charles has been allowed to examine and details of any conversations he may have had afterwards with Ministers, army chiefs of members of the security services.
“For example, was the Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment allow to express a view in advance on how the report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry should be dealt with? We know the report was discussed by the cabinet. Did they also have Charles’ opinions in front of them? Did these opinions influence Ministers?”
“The Saville report let every senior Para off the hook. It exonerated every politician involved.
“It gave MI5 a clean bill of health. It pointed the finger at individual paratroopers, but whitewashed everybody higher up the scale.
“Was this a result of establishment pressure and did Prince Charles contribute to that pressure? How many other secret documents relating to the North have been shown to him over the years?
“The fact that it has now come out is a victory. But, there is a great deal of information about Bloody Sunday and about the North generally which is still being kept from the public. Let’s have it all out in the open. Charles Windsor has no more right than the rest of us. Answers about this should be the very least demanded by elected representatives, particularly from Derry.”