Former Para says Bloody Sunday massacre was justified

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A former paratrooper being investigated for his part in the Bloody Sunday massacre has said he believes it was a “job well done”.

The soldier also told a BBC Radio 4 documentary he refused to answer any questions when recently questioned by police. The documentary is to be broadcast on Tuesday night.

The soldier was questioned by the PSNI police in England as part of the investigation into the killings. Thirteen people died after soldiers opened fire on a civil rights march in Derry on 30 January 1972. A 14th person died later.

“I served my country and I’ve served that, I think, well for 22 years,” the former soldier told the programme presenter, journalist Peter Taylor. “Now I’m being told I’m a murderer.”

Mr Taylor put it to the soldier that when he interviewed him in 1992 about Bloody Sunday, he said it was a “job well done”, and asked: “You still believe that?”

The soldier replied: “I still believe that. They were not all innocent.”

He added to outrage in Derry when he insisted the three people he shot that day were all armed, despite the findings of the Saville Inquiry and countless other investigations.

Asked about the prospect of being prosecuted and sent to jail, the former soldier said: “Stick me in a jail, for what end?”

Most of the Bloody Sunday families consider those who actually carried out the killings to have been foot-soldiers who were encouraged to open fire by senior officers.

The focus of this year’s annual commemoration by the families are people such as General Mike Jackson, the British Army’s former chief of staff who was present as an adjutant during the massacre and who has been highly decorated for his role in the conflict.

Ida McKinney, whose husband, Gerry, was one of the 13 men shot dead told the programme she forgives the soldier who killed him.

“We forgive them all for what they’ve done. I’ve no bitterness against them,” she said. But she would like to see the former soldiers stripped of the medals they received.

“They got them for a job well done and a job well done isn’t exactly what happened, because they [the victims] were all innocent,” her daughter Regina McLaughlin told the programme.

Sinn Fein has said the comments had caused renewed hurt to victims’ families. Derry representative Raymond McCartney described the remarks as “offensive and extremely hurtful”.

“They also fly in the face of the findings from the Saville Inquiry which clearly demonstrated how the victims had been murdered by the British army,” he said.

“This was not a job well done. It was a massacre of innocents.”

“The very fact that someone who was involved in the events of that day, and has been arrested by the PSNI team investigating Bloody Sunday, should feel justified in making these comments also goes a long way to explaining the kind of attitudes that still exist within the British military and establishment.

“They want to blame victims for their own murder rather than accept British culpability for crimes committed in Ireland. This is an attitude which has been actively promoted at the highest levels of the British Government - including by the British Prime Minister - through false claims that legacy investigations are skewed against former state forces.

“Those lies cannot go unchallenged and there can be no immunity or impunity for British soldiers guilty of murdering Irish civilians.”

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