Posted on March 15, 2019
‘Soldier F’ will face prosecution for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell. Sixteen other veterans and two ex-members of the Official IRA, all of whom were investigated, will not face prosecution.
Soldiers had been sent into the Bogside nationalist housing estate in Londonderry to deal with riots which followed a march defying a ban on public processions. Members of the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment opened fire at a civil rights march in Derry in 1972 killing 13 people. Thirteen civil rights demonstrators were shot dead on 30 January 1972, on one of the most notorious days of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
The Public Prosecution Service has been looking at the case of 18 soldiers – one of whom has since died. It has also been announced two former members of the ‘official IRA’ will not face charges.
Founder of the Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans group Alan Barry said: “It’s one soldier too many as far as we’re concerned. “It’s very one-sided. No soldier should be charged. It happened 47 years ago, a line in the sand needs to be drawn and people need to move on. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement veterans are being left open to prosecution while terrorists have been cleansed of their past crimes.”
Commenting on the decision by the Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland. The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to the individual affected by today’s decision. This includes funding all his legal costs and providing welfare support. The Ministry of Defence is working across Government to drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure our armed forces are not unfairly treated. And the Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution.”