Gavin Williamson confirms MoD will support Bloody Sunday soldier

Families marching in Derry today.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed the Ministry of Defence would support a British soldier facing murder charges from 1972.

The former paratrooper, known as solider F, will be charged with two murders and four attempted murders during Bloody Sunday in Derry.

Sixteen other veterans and two ex-members of the Official IRA, all of whom were investigated, will not face prosecution.

 

 

Mr Williamson announced today that the Ministry of Defence would cover "all legal costs" faced by the solider F.

"We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland," he said.

"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."

 

'One soldier too many'

A total of 108 rounds were expended during the day, with 20 soldiers taking part in the shooting

Thirteen civil rights demonstrators were shot dead on January 30 1972, on one of the most notorious days of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

The British Army insisted troops had come under fire from the IRA, but eyewitnesses said the victims were taking part in an unarmed, peaceful demonstration.

Solicitor for a number of the Bloody Sunday families, Ciaran Shiels, said the announcement was a "remarkable achievement" for families, but voiced dissapointment that only one soldier will be charged.

However 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."