No prosecution for soldiers in Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced Sept. 29 that after reviewing the evidence against 15 British soldiers suspected of killing civilians in Derry on “Bloody Sunday,” Jan. 30, 1972, they will maintain the decision not to pursue prosecution. The final decision, announced in a statement from the PPS, upholds an earlier one from March 2019, which found that “the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.” After the 2019 announcement, families who lost loved ones and survivors injured in the massacre asked for a review of the decision. In her statement, PPS senior assistant director Marianne O’Kane said, “It is understandable that a number of the bereaved families and injured victims subsequently exercised their right to request a review of decisions relating to 15 of those suspects originally reported.” However, she went on to say, “I have concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction of any of the 15 soldiers who were the subjects of the reviews.”

The persistence of the families and the wide attention that the PPS decisions have attracted are evidence of the lingering wounds from the early 1970s in Northern Ireland. Catholics, then a minority in Northern Ireland, demanded equal rights—especially an end to discrimination in public housing, and to an electoral system that allowed multiple votes for rich landowners and businessmen (nearly all Protestant). Taking inspiration from Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in the United States, Catholics organized marches in a civil rights movement of their own, starting in 1968. As in the US, peaceful marches ended in bloodshed when the government responded with violence. The deadliest such incident was Bloody Sunday, when 13 marchers were killed and several more wounded as members of the Army’s Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators.

The final decision from the PPS means that only one prosecution will proceed for the deaths in Derry in January 1972. The PPS is prosecuting a man referred to as Soldier F, a former member of the Parachute Regiment, for two murders on Bloody Sunday and attempted murders of four other men at a separate peaceful civil rights march in Northern Ireland.

From Jurist, Sept. 30. Used with permission.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

  1. Prosecution dropped of last soldier charged in Bloody Sunday

    Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service announced July 2 that the prosecution of Soldier F, the only British soldier to be charged in connection with the Bloody Sunday killings of 1972, will be discontinued. It was also announced that planned proceedings against a second soldier, Soldier B, will not be commenced. (Jurist)

  2. Northern Ireland police guilty of ‘collusive behavior’

    Marie Anderson, Police Ombudsman for Nothern Ireland, released a 344-page report identifying operational failures and “collusive behaviors” by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in the 1990s. The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and associated Ulster Freedom Frighters (UFF) carried out more than 400 murders, according to the report. Most of the group’s victims were Irish Catholic civilians, and 56 of those murders occurred between 1990 and 1994 in Belfast alone.

    During this time period, Anderson concluded, the RUC Special Branch recruited “high-risk” informants within the UDA/UFF but “failed to properly manage informants to identify concerns about their continued use.” Consequently, the Special Branch collaborated with informants who were “actively participating” in murder and other violence. (Jurist)

  3. UK soldier charged over Bloody Sunday to be tried for murder

    A Northern Ireland court ruled Dec. 14 that the sole British soldier facing charges in connection with the 1972 “Bloody Sunday” killings of Catholic protesters will be tried for murder. Ted Magill, a district judge in Londonderry, found that there is sufficient evidence for the case against defendant “Soldier F” to proceed. (Jurist)

  4. Ireland to bring legal challenge against Troubles Legacy Act

    The Irish government announced Dec. 19 that they intend to legally challenge the UK’s Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023 under the European Convention on Human Rights.

    The Northern Ireland Legacy Act was introduced during Boris Johnson’s time as prime minister. Receiving royal assent and becoming law in September, the Act created an Independent Commission for Reconciliation & Information Recovery, which limits criminal investigations, legal proceedings, inquests and police complaints into events that happened during the Troubles, and extends the Good Friday Agreement’s prisoner release scheme. (Jurist)

  5. Those injured in the Troubles can sue ex-Sinn Fein leader

    A UK High Court judge ruled Jan. 19 that three individuals wounded during the Troubles can proceed in personal injury claims against former Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams. The three claimants were all injured during bombings attributed to the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA). (Jurist)

  6. Return of Stormont government after two-year hiatus

    Sinn FĂ©in’s Michelle O’Neill made history as she was appointed Northern Ireland’s first-ever nationalist first minister. The Democratic Unionist Party’s Emma Little-Pengelly has been nominated as the deputy first minister. On Feb. 3, the Northern Irish government resumed its activities, two years to the day after it collapsed over divisions regarding trade arrangements for the region, which were introduced after the UK left the European Union.

    The return of a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland follows the ending of a DUP boycott over its concerns with post-Brexit trade regulations. (Jurist)