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Bloody Sunday: One British Army veteran faces two murder charges



A bloody outrage: Veterans' fury as former British soldier WILL be charged with murder over Bloody Sunday shootings while IRA terrorists 'are cleansed of crimes' - as ex-Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams holds protest 'in solidarity with victims' families'

  • 13 civilians were killed during riots on the Bogside estate in Londonderry in 1972, later called Bloody Sunday 
  • Prosecutors said today one ex-Para, named only as 'Soldier F', faces murder and attempted murder charges
  • Armed Forces group slam the decision to bring the case when so many IRA terrorists have been let off 
  • Cases will not be brought against 16 other former British soldiers. Two IRA suspects also avoided prosecution 
  • The British government says it will support the soldier, but critics accuse them of failing to protect veterans

By Richard Spillett for MailOnline

Published: 05:01 EDT, 14 March 2019 | Updated: 22:52 EDT, 14 March 2019

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British military veterans have slammed the double standards they say are being applied to the Troubles - which today saw a former paratrooper charged with murder while IRA terrorists go free.

It was announced today that a former serviceman, named only as 'Soldier F', will stand trial for the murders of two men during the Bloody Sunday shooting in 1972 and the attempted murders of four others.

The prosecution has sparked a political row, with Armed Forces groups saying soldiers who served their country are facing investigation while IRA members avoid action under so-called 'comfort letters'.  

Alan Barry, founder of Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans, said: 'Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, veterans are being left open to prosecution while terrorists have been cleansed of their past crimes.'

At the same time as Soldier F's prosecution was announced this morning, authorities revealed that two alleged Official IRA members would face no criminal action. 

In the wake of this morning's landmark decision to prosecute the soldier, MPs accused the government of failing to do enough to protect those who fought in the Army.

Former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams waded into the row this afternoon, saying more soldiers should be prosecuted and throwing his weight behind a protest just over the Irish border in Dundalk. 

Two children hold pictures of Bloody Sunday victims James Wray and William McKinney during a vigil in West Belfast Northern Ireland
Two children hold pictures of Bloody Sunday victims James Wray and William McKinney during a vigil in West Belfast Northern Ireland

Two children hold pictures of Bloody Sunday victims James Wray and William McKinney during a vigil in West Belfast Northern Ireland

Youths confront British soldiers minutes before paratroopers opened fire killing 14 civilians on what became known as Bloody Sunday
Youths confront British soldiers minutes before paratroopers opened fire killing 14 civilians on what became known as Bloody Sunday

Youths confront British soldiers minutes before paratroopers opened fire killing 14 civilians on what became known as Bloody Sunday

Fresh graffiti appeared today on the 'Free Derry' road sign after the announcement by Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service that only one former paratrooper is to be prosecuted
Fresh graffiti appeared today on the 'Free Derry' road sign after the announcement by Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service that only one former paratrooper is to be prosecuted

Fresh graffiti appeared today on the 'Free Derry' road sign after the announcement by Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service that only one former paratrooper is to be prosecuted

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was shot dead, and Alana Burke, who was injured, react to the decision
John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was shot dead, and Alana Burke, who was injured, react to the decision

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was shot dead, and Alana Burke, who was injured, react to the decision

Soldier F is one of 17 former members of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment who were investigated over the violence which left 13 people dead in Londonderry in 1972.

The sixteen other British military veterans who were investigated over Bloody Sunday will not face action, it was announced this morning. 

Soldier F is now thought to be in his 70s and faces trial for the alleged murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the alleged attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell. 

Critics of the decision point out that around 200 IRA fugitives, thought to be behind a series of terror attacks during the Troubles, were sent so-called 'comfort letters', assuring them they were no longer suspects.  

Soldier F will be charged with the murders of James Wray (left) and William McKinney (right) on Bloody Sunday. Mr Wray, 22, was shot twice in the back. Mr McKinney was film-maker who recorded scenes from the march before the shooting started
Soldier F will be charged with the murders of James Wray (left) and William McKinney (right) on Bloody Sunday. Mr Wray, 22, was shot twice in the back. Mr McKinney was film-maker who recorded scenes from the march before the shooting started

Soldier F will be charged with the murders of James Wray (left) and William McKinney (right) on Bloody Sunday. Mr Wray, 22, was shot twice in the back. Mr McKinney was film-maker who recorded scenes from the march before the shooting started

A photo from January 30 1972 shows demonstrators facing off with British soldiers minutes before paratroopers opened fire, killing 13 civilians on what became known as Bloody Sunday
A photo from January 30 1972 shows demonstrators facing off with British soldiers minutes before paratroopers opened fire, killing 13 civilians on what became known as Bloody Sunday

A photo from January 30 1972 shows demonstrators facing off with British soldiers minutes before paratroopers opened fire, killing 13 civilians on what became known as Bloody Sunday

Founder of the Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans group Alan Barry said British troops faced prosecution while IRA terrorists went free
Founder of the Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans group Alan Barry said British troops faced prosecution while IRA terrorists went free
Former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said more soldiers should have been prosecuted and threw his weight behind a Sinn Fein protest near the Northern Irish border
Former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said more soldiers should have been prosecuted and threw his weight behind a Sinn Fein protest near the Northern Irish border

Founder of the Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans group Alan Barry (left) said British troops faced prosecution while IRA terrorists went free. Former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams (right) said more soldiers should have been prosecuted and threw his weight behind a Sinn Fein protest near the Northern Irish border

The British government said it will support Soldier F and cover all of his legal costs, with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson praising the 'courage and distinction' of those who fought in Northern Ireland.

But the minister was criticised by fellow Tory MP and ex-Army Officer Johnny Mercer for failing to do enough to protect soldiers from prosecution.

Families of those killed wept after the prosecutor's decision was announced. They welcomed the charges brought against Soldier F but said they felt more of the group should face court. 

Soldier F was not named by prosecutors today. He may be named when his brought before court in the coming weeks, but could apply for his anonymity to be extended.

Soldiers involved in the shooting were given anonymity in the 2010 public inquiry, although the report refers to him being called 'Dave' by fellow Paras.  

Linda Nash, whose youngest brother William Nash died on Bloody Sunday, wept and hugged campaigner Eamonn McCann after it was announced that a British soldier will be prosecuted over the shootings. But critics have hit out at the decision
Linda Nash, whose youngest brother William Nash died on Bloody Sunday, wept and hugged campaigner Eamonn McCann after it was announced that a British soldier will be prosecuted over the shootings. But critics have hit out at the decision

Linda Nash, whose youngest brother William Nash died on Bloody Sunday, wept and hugged campaigner Eamonn McCann after it was announced that a British soldier will be prosecuted over the shootings. But critics have hit out at the decision

Military groups slammed at the decision to bring charges against Soldier F with Alan Barry, the founder of the Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans group, saying: 'It's one soldier too many as far as we're concerned.

'It's very one-sided. No soldier should be charged. It happened 47 years ago, a line in the sand needs to be drawn and people need to move on.

'Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement veterans are being left open to prosecution while terrorists have been cleansed of their past crimes.' 

Former Grenadier Guard Mr Barry, 54, who served in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, added: 'It's all about appeasement: appeasing the IRA, appeasing Sinn Fein, and if that means throwing one or two veterans under a bus then that's what they'll do.

'It's a disgrace. How old is he? He'll be in his 70s. I want to know why the IRA aren't being prosecuted.'

Ex-Artillery Sergeant Maurice Durward, 78, who spent 22 years in the Army, said he would not encourage his grandson to sign up because of the 'betrayal of politicians'. 

Former Coldstream Guardsman Vern Tilbury, 58, accused the country of 'spitting on' its veterans.

Mr Tilbury, who served in West Belfast in 1978-79 and 1982, said: 'This government is looking at us veterans as collateral damage. We're just a thorn in their side. How many more of us are going to have to go through it?'   

Relatives of those who died said more soldiers should have been charged. Veterans groups said Soldier F is 'one too many'
Relatives of those who died said more soldiers should have been charged. Veterans groups said Soldier F is 'one too many'

Relatives of those who died said more soldiers should have been charged. Veterans groups said Soldier F is 'one too many'

Families of those who died on Bloody Sunday march this morning through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Families of those who died on Bloody Sunday march this morning through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Families of those who died on Bloody Sunday march this morning through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Ex-Army MP attacks government failure to protect veterans 

After the announcement that Soldier F would face murder charges today, Conservative MP and former British Army officer Johnny Mercer tweeted that it was the result of 'an abject failure to govern and legislate, on our watch as a Conservative administration'.

'When I speak of a chasm between those who serve and their political masters in this country, I mean this,' he added, referring to the case.

Mr Mercer (pictured, above) posted a video of Theresa May vowing to never let 'left-wing human rights lawyers harangue our armed forces', saying the footage 'stings' him.

Another Conservative ex-Army officer Bob Stewart, who served in Northern Ireland, said that through mistakes were made, possibly by Soldier F, he should not go to court.

He told the BBC: 'They were not acts of deliberation and I think people should bear that in mind and he shouldn't go to court for that reason.

'It's extremely easy to prosecute soldiers because the Army keeps very good records and has post-incident reports that are detailed and thorough. The terrorists on the other hand, who murder deliberately, have no such records. And so it's not surprising that two provisional IRA people don't come to court.'

Relatives of those who died today reacted with a mix of vindication, disappointment and defiance.

While welcoming the news for the six families directly impacted by the decision to prosecute Soldier F - declaring that a 'victory' - the campaigners said they would keep fighting for the other dead and injured.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was shot dead, said: 'The dead cannot cry out for justice, it is the duty of the living to do so for them. We have cried out for them for many years, and now we have succeeded for them. Do not deny us justice any longer.'

Mickey McKinney, who is set to see Soldier F in court over the murder of his brother Willie, said: 'For us here today it is important to point out that justice for one family is justice for all of us.' 

The families had marched through the city this morning ahead of the decision, holding pictures of those killed. 

British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed the Ministry of Defence would support soldier F and pay the legal costs.

He said: 'We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

'The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to the individual affected by today's decision. This includes funding all his legal costs and providing welfare support.

'The Ministry of Defence is working across Government to drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure our armed forces are not unfairly treated.

'And the Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution.' 

Around 35 supporters from campaign group Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans also gathered, with a banner reading: 'Our veterans fought for you, our veterans died for you, now it's your chance to fight for us.'  

The case comes after years of arguing over one of the darkest days of the Troubles.

Unionists and military veterans insist it is betrayal of those who served and fought in Northern Ireland to now put the soldiers on trial.

The soldiers involved claimed they retaliated after coming under gunfire and former Army chiefs fear servicemen may not follow orders in future if they think they could face prosecution at a later date.  The public inquiry into the shootings found the soldiers fired the first shot. 

Derek Wilford, pictured in recent years, who was the commander in charge on Bloody Sunday said he felt his men had been betrayed
Derek Wilford, pictured in recent years, who was the commander in charge on Bloody Sunday said he felt his men had been betrayed
Derek Wilford, pictured in 1972, who was the commander in charge on Bloody Sunday said he felt his men had been betrayed
Derek Wilford, pictured in 1972, who was the commander in charge on Bloody Sunday said he felt his men had been betrayed

Derek Wilford, pictured (left) in recent years and (right) in 1972, was the commander in charge on Bloody Sunday. He said he felt his men had been betrayed

British troops search civilians on the day of the Bloody Sunday massacre, January 30, 1972
British troops search civilians on the day of the Bloody Sunday massacre, January 30, 1972

British troops search civilians on the day of the Bloody Sunday massacre, January 30, 1972

 Ahead of today's decision, the officer who was in charge of British troops on the day hit out at the possibility that his men will be dragged into court nearly 50 years on. 

Lt-Col Derek Wilford, the commander on the day, said yesterday that he and his men feel 'betrayed' and that he is 'very angry' at their treatment by authorities.

The now-86-year-old told The Daily Telegraph: 'I maintain the fact that there was fire and we were part of it. These people on the barricades were out to kill us. You don't need to be a soldier to realise that's what was happening.

'That is why now I have no sympathy with the other side. My sympathy lies with my soldiers, who day after day were obliged to go out into the wilderness of hostility.'

Lt-Col Derek Wilford said he accepted that what happened was bad and he is sorry for what took place, but does not regret what his soldiers did. 

Police began the criminal probe in the wake of the 12-year, £200million inquiry led by Lord Saville, which concluded in 2010. Pictured: Tear gas explosions at the demonstrations on Bloody Sunday
Police began the criminal probe in the wake of the 12-year, £200million inquiry led by Lord Saville, which concluded in 2010. Pictured: Tear gas explosions at the demonstrations on Bloody Sunday

Police began the criminal probe in the wake of the 12-year, £200million inquiry led by Lord Saville, which concluded in 2010. Pictured: Tear gas explosions at the demonstrations on Bloody Sunday

British troops had been sent into the Bogside nationalist housing estate to deal with riots which followed a march, held in defiance of a ban on public processions.

What did the Bloody Sunday Inquiry find?

The 2010 Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday found: 

- No warning had been given to any civilians before the soldiers opened fire.

- None of the soldiers fired in response to attacks by petrol-bombers or stone-throwers.

- Some of those killed or injured were clearly fleeing or going to help those injured or dying.

- None of the casualties was posing a threat or doing anything that would justify their shooting. 

- Many of the soldiers lied about their actions.

- Republican paramilitaries had been responsible for 'some firing', but the scale was exaggerated by British soldiers.

As well as the 13 who died, a total of 15 others were shot and injured. One of the injured died months later from an inoperable tumour and some consider him the 14th fatality.

In 2010, an inquiry by Lord Saville found that those killed were innocent and posed no threat. The soldiers claimed they fired in retaliation after coming under attack from IRA gunmen.

One former soldier who was under investigation previously said: 'We were made to give evidence to the Saville inquiry. We weren't hiding from anyone. But we were told statements given to the inquiry couldn't be used in prosecutions. 

'The next thing we know, the Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service (PPS) are saying they are deciding on prosecutions. 

'At the time of the inquiry, families were saying they were not interested in prison sentences for soldiers. Now they are saying they want life sentences.'

Lord Saville, who chaired the investigation into the incident, yesterday insisted its sole purpose was to find out what went on.

Lord Saville told the BBC yesterday: 'I didn't know what was likely to happen. We hoped the inquiry would help the situation in Ireland and I think and hope it did to a degree.

'The question as to whether it draws a line under events or whether there should be prosecutions is not one for me, it's one for politicians and prosecuting authorities.

'If people want more and feel that justice can only be served by prosecutions against those that they believe to be responsible, then that is a matter again on which I can't really comment.'

Pictured: The aftermath of the incident. Eighteen former paratroopers were under investigation, but one died last year
Pictured: The aftermath of the incident. Eighteen former paratroopers were under investigation, but one died last year

Pictured: The aftermath of the incident. Eighteen former paratroopers were under investigation, but one died last year

Evidence given to the Bloody Sunday inquiry is not admissible in any potential criminal prosecutions under terms agreed when it was launched in 1998.  But soldiers say there would have been no prospect of prosecutions without it. 

An investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) followed the £195 million inquiry and files on 18 soldiers were submitted to prosecutors in 2016 and 2017 for consideration. One former soldier has since died.

Four other soldiers included in the Saville Report died before police had completed their investigation.

A decision is also due to be taken today by the PPS as to whether to charge two Official IRA suspects present on the day.

Papers before prosecutors included 668 witness statements and numerous photos, video and audio evidence. 

The mural depicting those who lost their lives on Bloody Sunday in Rossville Street
The mural depicting those who lost their lives on Bloody Sunday in Rossville Street

The mural depicting those who lost their lives on Bloody Sunday in Rossville Street

Who were the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings? 

Patrick Doherty, 31. The married father-of-six was shot from behind as he attempted to crawl to safety from the forecourt of Rossville Flats.

Gerald Donaghey, 17. The IRA youth member was shot in the abdomen while running between Glenfada Park and Abbey Park. While Lord Saville said it was probable that he was in possession of nail bombs when he was shot, he stressed that he was not preparing to throw a nail bomb at the time and was shot 'while trying to escape from the soldiers'.

John 'Jackie' Duddy, 17. The first to be killed on Bloody Sunday, he was running away when he was shot in the chest in the car park of Rossville Flats.

Hugh Gilmour, 17. The talented footballer and ardent Liverpool fan was hit with a single shot as he ran away from the rubble barricade in Rossville Street.

Michael Kelly, 17. The trainee sewing machine mechanic was shot once in the abdomen close to the rubble barricade in Rossville Street by a soldier crouched some 80 yards away at Kells Walk.

(Top row, left to right) Patrick Doherty, Bernard McGuigan, John 'Jackie' Duddy and Gerald Donaghey. (Bottom row, left to right) Gerard McKinney, Jim Wray, William McKinney and John Young
(Top row, left to right) Patrick Doherty, Bernard McGuigan, John 'Jackie' Duddy and Gerald Donaghey. (Bottom row, left to right) Gerard McKinney, Jim Wray, William McKinney and John Young

(Top row, left to right) Patrick Doherty, Bernard McGuigan, John 'Jackie' Duddy and Gerald Donaghey. (Bottom row, left to right) Gerard McKinney, Jim Wray, William McKinney and John Young

Michael McDaid, 20. The barman died instantly after being shot in the face at the barricade in Rossville Street.

Kevin McElhinney, 17. The grocery store worker was shot from behind as he crawled towards Rossville Flats.

Bernard 'Barney' McGuigan, 41. The father-of-six was going to the aid of Patrick Doherty, waving a white handkerchief in his hand, when he was shot in the head with a single round. He died instantly.

Gerard McKinney, 35. The father-of-eight was running close behind Gerald Donaghey in Abbey Park when the bullet that killed both of them hit him first.

William 'Willie' McKinney (not related to Gerard), 27. The keen amateur film-maker recorded scenes from the march with his hand-held cinecamera before the shooting started. The camera was found in his jacket pocket as he lay dying after being shot in the back in Glenfada Park.

William Nash, 19. The dockworker was struck by a single bullet to the chest close to the rubble barricade in Rossville Street.

James Wray, 22. Engaged to be married, the civil rights activist was shot twice in the back in Glenfada Park.

John Young, 17. The menswear shop clerk was killed instantly with a single shot to the head at the rubble barricade. 

(Top row, left to right:) Michael Kelly, Michael McDaid, Hugh Gilmore. (Bottom row, left to right) Kevin McElhinney, William Nash and (bottom right) John Johnston, who some consider a victim of the shooting but whose death was put down to a brain tumour
(Top row, left to right:) Michael Kelly, Michael McDaid, Hugh Gilmore. (Bottom row, left to right) Kevin McElhinney, William Nash and (bottom right) John Johnston, who some consider a victim of the shooting but whose death was put down to a brain tumour

(Top row, left to right:) Michael Kelly, Michael McDaid, Hugh Gilmore. (Bottom row, left to right) Kevin McElhinney, William Nash and (bottom right) John Johnston, who some consider a victim of the shooting but whose death was put down to a brain tumour

John Johnston, 59, was shot twice by soldiers positioned inside a derelict building in William Street. He died four months later in hospital, but while many consider him the 14th victim of Bloody Sunday, his death was formally attributed to an inoperable brain tumour.

Anger over the IRA terror suspects continuing to walk free after peace process 'comfort letters' scandal

John Downey was previously accused of the murders of four soldiers in the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing, but his trial collapsed when it emerged that he had received a so-called 'on-the-runs' letter
John Downey was previously accused of the murders of four soldiers in the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing, but his trial collapsed when it emerged that he had received a so-called 'on-the-runs' letter

John Downey was previously accused of the murders of four soldiers in the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing, but his trial collapsed when it emerged that he had received a so-called 'on-the-runs' letter

The anger of Army veteran facing trial has been increased by the 'comfort letters' given to IRA terror suspects during the Northern Ireland Peace Process.

The effective amnesty for the fugitives was granted in a secret deal between Tony Blair's Labour government and Sinn Fein around the time of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

They assured 187 Republican terror suspects they were no longer being hunted by the police. 

At least 95 recipients were linked to almost 300 murders.

The letters – sent to the so-called 'on the runs' after pressure from Sinn Fein – only came to light during the trial of John Downey, the man accused of the Hyde Park bombing in 1982.

The trial collapsed in February last year when it emerged the 63-year-old had been told he would not face prosecution for the blast that killed four soldiers and seven horses in London.

Other IRA fugitives likely to have been sent letters reassuring them they would not be prosecuted include Terrence Kirby, two of the 'H-Block four' who escaped from the notorious Maze Prison in Northern Ireland in 1983.

Sinn Fein general secretary Rita O'Hare, who was arrested in Northern Ireland in 1972 for the attempted murder of British Army officer Frazer Paton, has been on the run since fleeing when she was released on bail.

It also emerged this morning that Harry Flynn, suspected chief of staff for the Irish National Liberation Army in the 1970s, runs a bar in Majorca.

His group were behind the killing of Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Airey Neave in 1979.

Flynn has been living on the holiday isle in 1998 after escaping extradition to Britain from France in 1986 because his crime was deemed political, The Sun reported.

Downey was accused over the Hyde Park blast in 1982, pictured, which killed four Royal Household Cavalrymen, but has always denied responsibility
Downey was accused over the Hyde Park blast in 1982, pictured, which killed four Royal Household Cavalrymen, but has always denied responsibility

Downey was accused over the Hyde Park blast in 1982, pictured, which killed four Royal Household Cavalrymen, but has always denied responsibility

Rita O'Hare, pictured with Gerry Adams, went on the run after being charged over the attempted murder of British Army officer Frazer Paton in 1972
Rita O'Hare, pictured with Gerry Adams, went on the run after being charged over the attempted murder of British Army officer Frazer Paton in 1972

Rita O'Hare, pictured with Gerry Adams, went on the run after being charged over the attempted murder of British Army officer Frazer Paton in 1972

Former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon today said IRA terrorists should also face prosecution.

He told BBC Radio 4's World At One: 'I think it would be nice for everybody if we started to hear about some of the IRA terrorist cases being reopened and some of them being put on trial...

'It's very important that if we're going to have a process like this that IRA men are also investigated and where necessary, where there is the evidence, prosecuted as well. It would be quite wrong simply to prosecute those who served.'

Democratic Unionist MP Gregory Campbell said there is a 'disproportionate focus on the small proportion of the 10% of deaths attributed to those serving their country'.

He added: 'There are families right across Northern Ireland who have never received any proper investigation into the murder of their loved ones. The facts also remain that 90% of deaths in Northern Ireland were at the hands of illegal terrorist groups who existed solely to murder and cause destruction.

'There is still a disproportionate focus however on the small proportion of the 10% of deaths attributed to those who were attempting to serve the community in difficult and often very dangerous situations.' 

A timeline of Bloody Sunday and the Troubles

August 1969 - British Government first send troops into Northern Ireland to restore order after three days of rioting in Catholic Londonderry.

30 January 1972 - On 'Bloody Sunday' 13 civilians are shot dead by the British Army during a civil rights march in Londonderry.

British troops in Northern Ireland during the Troubles which began in the late 1960s and lasted until 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement
British troops in Northern Ireland during the Troubles which began in the late 1960s and lasted until 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement

British troops in Northern Ireland during the Troubles which began in the late 1960s and lasted until 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement

March 1972 - The Stormont Government is dissolved and direct rule imposed by London.

1970s - The IRA begin its bloody campaign of bombings and assassinations in Britain.

April 1981 - Bobby Sands, a republicans on hunger strike in the Maze prison, is elected to Parliament. He dies a month later.

October 1984 - An IRA bomb explodes at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where Margaret Thatcher is staying during the Tory Party conference.

Early 1990s - Margaret Thatcher and then Sir John Major set up a secret back channel with the IRA to start peace talks. The communications was so secret most ministers did not know about it.

Norman Tebbit, a Conservative cabinet minister at the time, is carried from the wreckage of Brighton's Grand Hotel following the IRA bomb in 1984
Norman Tebbit, a Conservative cabinet minister at the time, is carried from the wreckage of Brighton's Grand Hotel following the IRA bomb in 1984

Norman Tebbit, a Conservative cabinet minister at the time, is carried from the wreckage of Brighton's Grand Hotel following the IRA bomb in 1984

Johnathan Ball (left), 3, and Tim Parry (right), 12, were killed in 1993 after IRA bombs exploded in the small town of Warrington, Cheshire
Johnathan Ball (left), 3, and Tim Parry (right), 12, were killed in 1993 after IRA bombs exploded in the small town of Warrington, Cheshire

Johnathan Ball (left), 3, and Tim Parry (right), 12, were killed in 1993 after IRA bombs exploded in the small town of Warrington, Cheshire

1993 -  Two IRA bombs hidden in litter bins detonated on Bridge Street in Warrington Cheshire, killing 12-year-old Tim Parry and three-year-old Johnathan Ball and injuring dozens of civilians.

April 1998 - Tony Blair helps to broker the Good Friday Agreement, which is hailed as the end of the Troubles. It establishes the Northern Ireland Assembly with David Trimble as its first minister.

2000s - With some exceptions the peace process holds and republican and loyalist paramilitaries decommission their weapons 

2010 - The Saville Report exonerates the civilians who were killed on Bloody Sunday leading to a formal apology from then Prime Minister David Cameron to the families. 

2019 - Prosecutors announce whether to brig charges against the 17 surviving Paras who fired shots that day.

A 1998 photograph of Lord Saville of Newdigate chairing the Bloody Sunday inquiry
A 1998 photograph of Lord Saville of Newdigate chairing the Bloody Sunday inquiry

A 1998 photograph of Lord Saville of Newdigate chairing the Bloody Sunday inquiry

Former British soldier, 77, facing prosecution for shooting of man with learning difficulties at height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland fights for right to have trial by jury 

A former soldier facing prosecution over a shooting during Northern Ireland's Troubles has gone to the UK's highest court to demand a trial by jury.

Dennis Hutchings, 77, a former member of the Life Guards regiment, is charged in relation to the fatal shooting of John Pat Cunningham, a man with learning difficulties killed in June 1974 in disputed circumstances in County Armagh.

Mr Cunningham, 27, was shot in the back as he ran away from an Army patrol, but his family contend that he ran across a field because he feared men in uniform.

Dennis Hutchings arrives today for the latest hearing in his challenge against the decision to hold his trial without a jury over the shooting in Northern Ireland during the Troubles
Dennis Hutchings arrives today for the latest hearing in his challenge against the decision to hold his trial without a jury over the shooting in Northern Ireland during the Troubles

Dennis Hutchings arrives today for the latest hearing in his challenge against the decision to hold his trial without a jury over the shooting in Northern Ireland during the Troubles

Supporters from campaign group Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans clapped and cheered as Hutchings arrived at the Supreme Court in London this morning
Supporters from campaign group Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans clapped and cheered as Hutchings arrived at the Supreme Court in London this morning

Supporters from campaign group Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans clapped and cheered as Hutchings arrived at the Supreme Court in London this morning

Hutchings, of Cawsand, Cornwall, has claimed he never intended to kill or injure Mr Cunningham, but he was firing warning shots to get him to stop. 

More than 40 years on, a case was brought against Hutchings after Northern Ireland's attorney general asked prosecutors to review the case.

Hutchings is due to stand trial in Belfast charged with attempted murder and attempted grievous bodily harm with intent. He denies the charges. 

Hutchings (pictured at a funeral in 1968) admitted he was 'a bit nervous, obviously'
Hutchings (pictured at a funeral in 1968) admitted he was 'a bit nervous, obviously'

Hutchings (pictured at a funeral in 1968) admitted he was 'a bit nervous, obviously'

He has now gone to the Supreme Court in London to challenge a decision by prosecutors that his trial will be heard by a judge alone, rather than by a jury.

Supporters from campaign group Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans clapped and cheered as Hutchings arrived at the court this morning.

Hutchings thanked them and said: 'Victory for veterans, that's what we want.'

Speaking outside court, Hutchings said he was 'a bit nervous, obviously, although I don't think we will get a decision today'.

He said he was 'reasonably confident' he would win his case, but added: 'I just don't trust the system anymore.'

Hutchings said: 'The thing is whatever decision we get in here today affects every service person.

'If I win, for instance, they will then have a choice between having a judge-only trial and a jury trial; 99.9 per cent of service people will want a jury trial.'

Pointing at the nearby Houses of Parliament, Hutchings added: 'These people sent us there to do the job. Yes, things happened.

'They called it the Troubles because it's easier to call it the Troubles. It wasn't the bloody Troubles, it was a war, as simple as that.'

 

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