Bikers to protest against Bloody Sunday prosecution

Thousands of bikers will roar into London next week to protest against the prosecution of a British soldier over Bloody Sunday.

Soldier F is to be charged with murdering two people after troops opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in Londonderry in 1972.

Some relatives of the 13 people killed have campaigned for justice.

Bloody Sunday prosecutions
Bloody Sunday prosecutions

Veterans have reacted angrily to the decision to take legal action decades after the bloodshed.

Rolling Thunder ride organiser Harry Wragg said: “Our ride is not directed at the victims, it is directed at the British Government.

“Our argument is with the Government, not the victims of Bloody Sunday or any other event.”

He added: “Where are they pulling the evidence from, why are the British Government allowing this to happen?”

Participants in the demonstration on Friday April 12 are due to travel from across the UK, including the Lake District, Wales as well as the home counties.

Mr Wragg said: The plan is, we ride through with 4,000 motorcyclists.

“That is rolling thunder.”

They had planned to travel to Westminster but that date coincides with the new no-deal Brexit date.

It is uncertain whether they will be allowed to proceed to Parliament, the organiser said.

Thirteen civil rights demonstrators were shot dead on January 30 1972, on one of the most notorious days of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Bloody Sunday prosecutions
Bloody Sunday prosecutions

Soldier F will face charges for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell in Londonderry in 1972, Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service has said.

Bloody Sunday helped galvanise support for the Provisional IRA early in the Troubles. An image of a Catholic priest waving a bloodstained handkerchief as he tried to help a victim to safety went around the world.

A public inquiry conducted by a senior judge shortly after the deaths was branded a whitewash by victims’ families and a campaign was launched for a new public inquiry.

Relatives sought to right the wrongs of false claims that their loved ones had been armed. A fresh probe was eventually ordered by then prime minister Tony Blair in 1998.

A decade-long investigation by Lord Saville concluded that the troops killed protesters who posed no threat.