Naomi Long acknowledges PPS non-prosecution decision in Daniel Hegarty and Bloody Sunday cases ‘incredibly painful’ for families

Justice Minister Naomi Long has acknowledged that the decision not to prosecute two soldiers for the murders of Daniel Hegarty, William McKinney and Jim Wray has been ‘incredibly painful’ for their families.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 12:54 pm

Speaking yesterday, she said the Public Prosecution Service move to halt the prosecutions did not change David Cameron’s 2010 pronouncement that what happened on Bloody Sunday was ‘unjustified and unjustifiable.’

“First, I want to say to the families of Daniel Hegarty, William McKinney and Jim Wray that I understand and empathise, the hurt and distress that the news that for legal reasons the PPS have determined that prosecution is not possible in these cases, will have caused,” she said.

“They have campaigned unstintingly, over many years and despite many setbacks, to receive both truth and justice for their loved ones, and so this decision will undoubtedly have been incredibly painful.”

Solicitor Ciaran Shiels with Bloody Sunday relatives outside the City Hotel on Friday morning after the PPS announcement that Soldier F will not stand trial. Photo: George Sweeney / Derry Journal. DER2126GS – 161

She said she had to respect the independence of the PPS, explaining how it was bound by the ruling of Mr. Justice O’Hara in April, in a case involving the shooting of Official IRA member Joe McCann, that statements obtained from soldiers alleged to have been involved in that killing had been inadmissible.

“The judge described the procedure under which the Royal Military Police statements were taken as designed in part to protect soldiers from being questioned by the RUC and ultimately from being prosecuted. The judge found that the interview procedures conducted by the HET team also breached the code of practice governing the conduct of investigative interviews,” she told MLAs.

SDLP MLA Mark Durkan said: “We, along with the Derry public, have stood alongside the Bloody Sunday families, the family of Daniel Hegarty, the families of too many victims, in their long campaigns for truth and justice. That justice has been denied but they will not give up and neither will we.”

Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson said: “The news that they received on Friday was a bad day for justice and it spoke to a widely held view for many who have been trying to fight for justice and truth from British state violence, that British troops have acted with impunity and I want to acknowledge what you said about the Bloody Sunday families who have acted with courage, with resilience, with dignity.”

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