Bloody Sunday: SDLP leader says families conducted themselves with 'astonishing dignity'

A former British soldier is set to be prosecuted in connection with the deaths of two civil rights protester

The Public Prosecution Service has announced that 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. On that day, 13 people were shot and killed as they fled police or tried to help those who were wounded.

Bloody Sunday was one of the worst atrocities during The Troubles and a flashpoint during Northern Ireland's three decades of unrest.

In total, police reported 20 suspects to the PPS - 18 of them former soldiers, one of whom died a year ago.

When it was put to Soldier F in October 2003 he murdered them without justification, he replied: "The people I shot are the petrol bombers or a person who had a weapon".

Mr Kelly highlighted there were legal means of challenging the decisions not to prosecute.

"We would like to remind everyone that no prosecution or if it comes to it no conviction does not mean not guilty, it does not mean that no crime was committed, it does not mean that those soldiers acted in a dignified and appropriate way", Mickey McKinney, brother to one of the victims, told a news conference.

Soldiers had been sent into the Bogside nationalist housing estate to deal with riots which followed a Derry march defying a ban on public processions.

Kate Nash, who was 23 when her 19-year-old brother, William Nash, was killed and her father, Alex, injured, said she was "very, very saddened" by the decision.

Eamonn McCann comforts Linda Nash outside the City Hotel.

Mr Herron said he was conscious that relatives faced an "extremely hard day".

"Much of the material which was available for consideration by the inquiry is not admissible in criminal proceedings, due to strict rules of evidence that apply", Herron said.

Relatives march from the Bogside to the Guildhall in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

"The full cost of Bloody Sunday can not be measured just in terms of those who suffered that day", he said, "but must also be measured in terms of those who suffered because of that awful day".

"The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to anyone affected by today's decision. Our serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution", he added.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney said it was important that no one said anything to prejudice the process following yesterday's decision, adding that his thoughts were with all of the families.

The anger stirred up following Bloody Sunday led to an increase in activity from the Provisional Irish Republican Army, becoming a war of attrition against the British until the mid-1990s when a ceasefire was drawn up.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was shot dead, said: "The dead can not cry out for justice, it is the duty of the living to do so for them".

"This is why other mechanisms can assist the families if both governments could agree to establish them".

The report also found that some of the soldiers had lied to hide their actions, that their commanders had disobeyed standing orders by sending them into the area that day, that five of the soldiers had opened fire knowing that their targets posed no threat, and that two other soldiers had fired without being sure. No one was injured.

At the close of the second investigation in 2010, then-Prime Minister David Cameron made a public apology for the shootings, saying the shootings were "unjustified and unjustifiable".

Hundreds of Derry folk came out to walk with the families, including some who had marched on that cold winter's day on January 30, 1972 - a day which altered the lives of so many and served to change a city forever.

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