MoD to pay Bloody Sunday soldiers' fees

Relatives and supporters of the victims of the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings marched from the Bogside area of Derry Northern Ireland as they held images of those who died

The charges follow a decade-long investigation that concluded the soldiers killed unarmed demonstrators.

A former British paratrooper has been charged for the killing of two unarmed protesters in Northern Ireland in 1972, in an incident that has become known as Bloody Sunday.

Sixteen other former soldiers and two suspected ex-members of the Official IRA, all of whom were also investigated as part of a major police murder probe, will not face prosecution, the PPS said. Eighteen other suspects-16 former soldiers and two alleged former members of the Official IRA will not face any charges.

Mr Herron said: "An experienced team of senior prosecutors assisted by senior counsel has given careful consideration to all of the available evidence in these cases and applied the test for prosecution, in line with the PPS Code for Prosecutors".

Soldiers from the elite Parachute Regiment opened fire on Sunday, Jan. 30, 1972, during an unauthorised march in the Bogside, a nationalist area of Londonderry.

Sixteen other soldiers under investigation will not face prosecution in the shootings, which took place at the height of the unrest in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles.

Following the Saville Inquiry report's publication, then-Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the soldiers' actions in the House of Commons.

Those killed on Bloody Sunday were John "Jackie" Duddy, 17, Michael Kelly, 17, Hugh Gilmour, 17, John Young, 17, Kevin McElhinney, 17, Gerard Donaghy, 17, William Nash, 19, Michael McDaid, 20, James "Jim" Wray, 22, William McKinney, 26, Patrick Doherty, 31, Gerard McKinney, 35, and Bernard "Barney" McGuigan, 41.

The Northern Ireland Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Michael Agnew, informed victim's families of the decision at a private meeting this morning.

Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Stephen Herron said he was conscious relatives faced an "extremely hard day".

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"This does not mean that because they haven't been prosecuted that they are not guilty".

"We have walked the long journey since our fathers and brothers were brutally slaughtered on the streets of Derry", the families said in a statement.

The victims' families were stunned by the events of the day, not just at the loss of their loved ones but by the army's claims that the people in the crowds fired the first shot.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed it will cover the legal costs of any soldier facing criminal charges over Bloody Sunday.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said it was important that no one said anything to prejudice the process following Thursday's decision, adding that his thoughts were with all of the families.

"Our serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution", he said.

"The Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues".

More than 660 witness statements were taken and investigators gathered photos as well as video and audio evidence.

The Saville Report, which was published in 2010 after a 12-year inquiry by High Court Judge Lord Saville, reversed the findings of a hastily-convened inquiry from 1972 by another judge, Lord Widgery, who concluded the soldiers only fired after being fired upon.

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