One former British soldier will face charges over Bloody Sunday

Alan Barry

Alan Barry

An 18th soldier who was interviewed by police has since died.

The UK Ministry of Defence has said its serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution.

Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Stephen Herron said he was conscious relatives faced an "extremely hard day", but "much of the material which was available for consideration by the Inquiry is not admissible in criminal proceedings, due to strict rules of evidence that apply", he said. The victims' families, as well as the British, Irish and U.S. governments, saw the findings as a step toward healing one of the biggest wounds left by the four-decade conflict in Northern Ireland that left 3700 people dead.

A short internal military inquiry shortly after Bloody Sunday, known as the Widgery Report, concluded the soldiers had done nothing wrong.

Families of victims of Bloody Sunday, in which 13 unarmed protesters were killed in 1972, marched before the prosecutor's announced charges against a former British paratrooper.

Following the inquiry's conclusion in 2010, then prime minister David Cameron said the killings were "unjustified and unjustifiable".

"I$3 t has been concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction", the statement said.

Speaking before Thursday's announcement, John Kelly, said he was "hoping and praying" that the families will get news of prosecutions.

It followed a previous report into the Bloody Sunday killings which had largely exonerated the British soldiers.

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The Attorney General should investigate whether Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has interfered in the judicial process, according to the Bloody Sunday families.

However, the government has proposed legislation to widen the programme to offences taking place from 1968, meaning any Bloody Sunday prosecutions would be eligible.

"However, much of the material which was available for consideration by the Inquiry is not admissible in criminal proceedings, due to strict rules of evidence that apply", he said.

"We recognize the deep disappointment felt by many of those we met with today", he said. "However, that does not mean that we do not have compassion for all those who are affected by our decisions".

Kate Nash's brother William was shot dead and her father wounded on Bloody Sunday.

Linda Nash, the brother of William Nash, a 19-year-old killed on the day, was tearful when she emerged from the hotel.

"Justice matters to anybody", she said.

"No-one in the Armed Forces wants to be above the law, but what we did need to do is ensure that they do have the protection so that they don't feel under threat".

A silent crowd lines both sides of the road as the funeral procession of those who died Bloody Sunday passes, 02-02-1972.

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