Bloody Sunday families hoping fight for justice will come to an end

The families of those killed on Bloody Sunday are hopeful they will not have to pass their fight for justice onto the next generation, a campaigner has said.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was gunned down aged just 17, said he and other relatives of those injured and shot dead are nervous and anxious on the eve of the decision as to whether the British soldiers involved will be prosecuted.

On Thursday morning the families will gather outside The Museum of Free Derry, just yards from where the killings took place 47 years ago, and march together to a city centre hotel to hear whether charges will be brought.

Mr Kelly, 70, said: “At the minute we’re nervous, anxious, trying to anticipate or even think about what the outcome is going to be.

“It’s been a day that we’ve been waiting for, for many, many years and hopefully tomorrow we will see justice delivered.”

The museum, where many relatives of the dead work to bring the story of what happened at a civil rights march on January 30, 1972 to the world, was a hive of activity on Wednesday with more than 140 visitors.

School groups and holidaymakers alike from countries including the United States and France toured the building in Glenfada Park, which sits in the shadow of a mural of Northern Ireland’s civil rights movement.

Hege Aglen Elden, a teacher from Norway, said she found the tour “very emotional”, adding that it was good to be there “at such a historic time”.

Mickey McKinney
Mickey McKinney looks at a photo on the wall of the Museum of Free Derry (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr Kelly said he hopes the decades-long journey to justice can finally come to an end with a decision by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to charge those involved.

He said: “It’s closure to the families, closure in every aspect of it because the thing that we don’t want to do is see this being passed on to the next generation.

“I think after this length of time, the time is right now to bring it to an end and hopefully by the delivery by the PPS tomorrow we can look to a better future. I don’t want to pass it on to my children, or my grandchildren and all the families feel exactly the same way.

“Hopefully, depending on what the PPS delivers tomorrow, we will be in a position where we can bring it to an end.”

Mickey McKinney, whose brother William was also killed aged 27, said while he is hopeful of a murder charge, even if that news does not come he will know he and the others have done their utmost for their loved ones.

The 67-year-old said: “If we didn’t get good news, I can still live with the fact that we’ve ruffled them (the soldiers and the establishment) a bit.

“If it (a prosecution) doesn’t happen, we’ll take legal advice to see if there can be a challenge. If there’s no challenge, if our solicitors tell us we can’t do anything here, I can live with me. We’ve given this our all.”

Seventeen former members of support company of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment are facing possible charges by the Public Prosecution Service on Thursday.

All 13 of those killed were declared innocent in 2010 following a lengthy public inquiry conducted by Lord Saville, after a years-long campaign by the families to right the wrongs of false claims that their loved ones had been armed.

Recalling his sibling, who was known as Willie, Mr McKinney said: “Willie was my brother and he never took part in a riot, he never threw a stone.”

Of the soldiers, he said: “How dare they take his life? They had no right to do that. They had no right to do what they did on Bloody Sunday.”

David Cameron, prime minister in 2010, issued a public apology to the families on behalf of the state for what happened.

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