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On the Runs: Bloody Sunday families angered by unionists

A British army paratrooper arresting a civil rights marcher on Bloody Sunday. (2102MM26)

A British army paratrooper arresting a civil rights marcher on Bloody Sunday. (2102MM26)

A brother of one of those murdered on Bloody Sunday has accused unionists of trying to “undermine the peace process” by calling for paratroopers to be given immunity from prosecution.

John Kelly made the comment amid the political fall-out over the issue of British government letters to 187 republicans telling them they were not wanted by the police in connection with troubles-related offences.

During the controversy that followed, First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson threatened to resign and provoke an Assembly election.

Conservative MPs also challenged British Prime Minister David Cameron to issue similar letters to the paratroopers responsible for Bloody Sunday and assure them they would not be prosecuted.

Mr Kelly said the call has angered relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday and said the massacre cannot be equated to other events from the conflict.

“Every time Bloody Sunday is used like this as a political football it adds to the pain and distress of the families. It really annoys the families that unionists are using this argument to suit themselves.

“They are trying to use us to undermine everything that happened in the peace process but we will not allow them to do that because the Bloody Sunday families support the peace process,” he said.

Foyle SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood said victims of state violence need reassurance that no secret deals have been done over future prosecutions.

“These revelations are both upsetting and startling for all of us,” he said.

“This administrative amnesty not only denies justice for the victims of IRA atrocities but throws into question the future of the campaigns for justice on behalf of victims killed or maimed as result of state violence.

“I remember only too well the vigorous efforts made by the concerned families of victims of Bloody Sunday and others to prevent Sinn Féin and the British Government from striking a deal that would effectively grant amnesty to ‘on-the-runs’ and state forces involved in Troubles-related crimes,” he said.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness called for calm and for responsible leadership to prevail.

“The big responsibility is for cool heads, steady leadership and responsible leadership. We have to work together, work through these issues and stop the grandstanding,” he said at Stormont yesterday.

 

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