‘No family should be forced to struggle for 50 years for justice’ - Chair of Bloody Sunday Trust
Tony Doherty, Chairperson of the Bloody Sunday Trust has expressed his solidarity with the families of Jim Wray, Willie McKinney and Daniel Hegarty who have “all fought bravely for Justice for almost 50 years”.
Mr Doherty, whose father Patrick was also shot dead on Bloody SUnday, was speaking after the Public Prosecution Service confirmed that the prosecutions against Soldier F for murder in relation to some of the killings in 1972 on Bloody Sunday and for Soldier B in relation to the killing of 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty during Operation Motorman and the wounding of his cousin Christopher Hegarty in July of the same year will no longer proceed.
The PPS said the decisions not to proceed with both cases were taken after “careful consideration of the impact of a recent court ruling that evidence relied upon in the prosecution of two former soldiers known as Soldier A and Soldier C was inadmissible because of the circumstances in which it was obtained”.
“Given related evidential features across all three cases, a review of the available evidence against Soldier B and Soldier F was conducted to establish whether the Court’s ruling had any implications for the prospect of convictions in these cases.
“After considering the full written judgement delivered by Mr Justice O’Hara in the case of Soldier A and Soldier C, delivered on 30th April 2021, it was concluded that there was no longer a reasonable prospect of key evidence in proceedings against Soldier F and Soldier B being ruled admissible at their trials and without this evidence the Test for Prosecution was no longer considered met.”
Mr Doherty said: “The decision today means that victims of state violence basically have been told that justice cannot be achieved within the Northern State.”
“No family should be forced to struggle for 50 years to achieve truth and justice.
“There are no more channels available. British no longer has any moral authority in the North of Ireland.”
Foyle SDLP MP Colum Eastwood said the Bloody Sunday families have been badly let down again by a decision that is “bitterly disappointing”.
Derry’s MP said that the families have been badly let down on too many occasions and will have the SDLP’s full support in their efforts to secure justice and accountability for their loved ones.
Colum Eastwood MP said: “This is a devastating news today. Devastating for the Bloody Sunday families and the family of Daniel Hegarty who have placed their faith in process after process only to be let down badly as they seek justice and accountability for the murder of their loved ones. But devastating also because of the message it sends to the world.
“It is galling that these cases appear to have collapsed because the British Army’s historical investigation process was so deficient that the evidence collected is considered to be inadmissible.
“The Bloody Sunday Families and Daniel Hegarty’s family have been through worse days than this and they have marched on with dignity, decency and pride. The people of Derry have stood with them on every step of their long march toward justice, we’re with them today and we’ll be with them until the end. The SDLP will continue to stand with them in the next phase of this campaign. This is not over.”
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said the decision by the Public Prosecution Service not to proceed with prosecutions of soldiers “adds insult to injury” to the families of the victims and is a bad day for justice.
Gerry Kelly said: “Our thoughts today are with the families of Daniel Hegarty, William McKinney, Jim Wray and all those other victims of the massacre on Bloody Sunday.
“Today’s announcement that the prosecutions of former British soldiers in relation to the Bloody Sunday massacre and the murder of a child Daniel Hegarty will not go ahead is outrageous and an insult to the families of those killed.
“The families of the 14 unarmed civilians massacred by British soldiers in Derry that day and the family of Daniel Hegarty have campaigned for justice for almost 50 years with dignity and determination.
“We will continue to stand by the Bloody Sunday and Hegarty families and all those victims of British state violence and cover-up in their search for truth and justice.”