Para commander promises support for arrested man

Rioting in the Bogside on what became known as Bloody Sunday
Rioting in the Bogside on what became known as Bloody Sunday

The commanding officer of the Parachute Regiment, Lieutenant General John Gordon Lorimer, has offered support to the former soldier arrested earlier this week by detectives investigating Bloody Sunday.

General Lorimer, the 2015 successor to both the Dublin-educated Mervyn Butler, who was the overall commander in 1972 when the Regiment shot dead 13 civil rights protestors on January 30, and Mike Jackson, who was second-in-command of the Regiment’s 1st Battalion on the day and recently commanded the Regiment, has also offered support to any former soldier, who served during Operation Banner.

“You will be aware that a former soldier, from our Regiment, has been arrested as part of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) investigation into the events of Bloody Sunday,” was a message circulated by the Regiment in the wake of the arrest on Tuesday.

“While the Regiment cannot comment on an ongoing PSNI investigation it is important, the wider Regiment know, that RHQ is in communication with the appropriate department within the MOD and Army HQ; and that the former member of the Regiment is being offered the appropriate support,” it read.

Members of the Regiment killed 11 people in Ballymurphy in 1971, as well as 13 people in Londonderry five months later.

The Regiment is offering support to any former members who require support during any prospective investigations into these events, if they are forthcoming.

“The Colonel Commandant appreciates that this is a difficult time for both the veteran and his family, and assures them of our support while this case is being investigated,” the Regiment said.

“He would also like to remind all our former servicemen that RHQ is able to offer support should it be required. Should any of you have concerns surrounding your participation in Op BANNER (the campaign in Northern Ireland), RHQ PARA is able to provide welfare support to you and your families should it be required.

“If you wish to speak to the Regimental Secretary he can be contacted on 01206 817082 or at infhq-para-regtsec@mod.uk,” it added.

Detectives from Legacy Investigation Branch investigating the events of Bloody Sunday have arrested a 66 year old man in County Antrim on Tuesday.

He was subsequently released on bail.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it was aware the former soldier has been arrested in connection with the investigation into the events of Bloody Sunday. PSNI says the probe is in a new phase.