OIRA men not prosecuted for ‘attempted murder’ of soldiers

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The Public Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute two members of the Official IRA for allegedly firing shots at soldiers on Bloody Sunday

Yesterday the PPS announced that only one person - ‘Soldier F,’ a former member of the the British Parachute Regiment’s 1st Battallion, was to be prosecuted for his role in the events of January 30, 1972, which resulted in the deaths of 14 civilians.

Due to intense interest in the case and an anticipation of the disappointment that has arisen over the fact that just one out of 18 former soldiers suspected of involvement in the killings is likely to face trial, the PPS issued a 13 page summary of its reasons for not pursuing more paratroopers.

While the main focus of interest was on the British Army, the PPS revealed that the prosecution of two republicans for attempted murder had been considered, but decided against.

“The first person reported was alleged to be a person identified at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry as OIRA1.

“The Bloody Sunday Inquiry concluded that OIRA1 fired a shot that hit a drainpipe on the eastern side of a Presbyterian Church some minutes before 4 p.m. This was just above the heads of members of Mortar Platoon who were on the roof of a boiler house adjacent to the church at the time,” the Prosecution Service stated.

However, it noted the alleged gunman’s testimony to the Saville Inquiry would have been inadmissable for the purposes of a prosecution and “such admissible evidence as existed was insufficient to prove that the person reported to the PPS was one and the same person as OIRA1.”

The second Official IRA member was alleged “to have fired at (but missed) an unidentified soldier after all civilian casualties had been shot.

While “there was identification evidence from a witness in relation to the suspect’s possession of a weapon, although not of him having fired it . . . that evidence had significant flaws and the witness did not wish to co-operate with the PSNI investigation.”