Families of the Bloody Sunday victims have been left angry and upset after Crown Prosecutors claimed today there is sufficient evidence to prosecute only one one the seventeen soldiers known to have been involved in the massacre.
Fourteen people, half of them teenage boys, were taking part in a civil rights march in Derry when they were shot dead by British paratroopers on January 30, 1972. A further 22 innocent civilians were injured.
Many of the families who emerged from this morning’s meeting with the prosecutors were visibly upset.
Earlier the relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday gathered at the memorial in the Bogside to walk together to the city centre, where the meeting took place. They carried before them placards bearing the names and faces of their loved ones, and a single word: Justice.
Nine years ago, they made that same walk ahead of the publication of the Saville Report, which found none of the victims had posed a threat when they were shot. British Prime Minister David Cameron then issued a famous apology for the slaughter.
While some families backed away from campaigning at that point, others continued the annual march for justice. A breakthrough finally came when a murder investigation was launched in 2012.
John Kelly is among the majority of families who wanted to see all of the soldiers involved in shootings prosecuted.
“My view is they are all guilty of murder,” says Kelly. “Any soldier who fired a shot that day should be charged with murder.”
He added: “It’s not just about Bloody Sunday, it’s about all the other killings. If they can get away with Bloody Sunday, they can get away with anything.”
British army veterans’ representatives and many MPs had been lobbying for a complete amnesty for the British military in Ireland. Last week, British Direct Ruler Karen Bradley said any killing carried out by a British soldier in the north of Ireland is “not a crime”. She later withdrew the remark.
Amid immense media attention, it ha been confirmed that only one former paratrooper - soldier F - is to be charged with two murders and four attempted murders.
Kate Nash, who lost her brother William on Bloody Sunday, said her stomach had been “in knots” waiting for today’s news on prosecutions. She has dedicated her entire life to being a voice for her brother and says the families “just want justice”.
“I hear politicians talking about jailing this one and that one, but not soldiers, because they shouldn’t have to face that. What makes them special that they shouldn’t have to face it?”