Bloody Sunday: Prosecution of one soldier is one too many, says veterans’ group

The decision to prosecute one former soldier who was serving in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday is “one too many”, a veterans’ group has said.

Reacting to the PPS decision to prosecute ‘Soldier F’ for murder and attempted murder, founder of the Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans group, Alan Barry said: “It’s one soldier too many as far as we’re concerned.

Soldiers were sent into the Bogside on January 30. 1972 in response to public disorder following a civil rights march

Soldiers were sent into the Bogside on January 30. 1972 in response to public disorder following a civil rights march

“It’s very one-sided. No soldier should be charged. It happened 47 years ago, a line in the sand needs to be drawn and people need to move on.

“Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement veterans are being left open to prosecution while terrorists have been cleansed of their past crimes.”

Former Grenadier Guard Mr Barry, 54, who served in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, went on: “It’s all about appeasement: appeasing the IRA, appeasing Sinn Fein, and if that means throwing one or two veterans under a bus then that’s what they’ll do.

“It’s a disgrace. How old is he? He’ll be in his 70s.

“I want to know why the IRA aren’t being prosecuted.”

Former Coldstream Guardsman Vern Tilbury, 58, accused the country of “spitting on” its veterans.

Mr Tilbury, who served in West Belfast in 1978-79 and 1982, said: “This government is looking at us veterans as collateral damage.

“We’re just a thorn in their side.

“How many more of us are going to have to go through it?”

Reacting to the announcement by the PPS this morning, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Clearly, we are indebted to those who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

“The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to anyone affected by today’s decision.

“We recognise the suffering of anyone who lost loved ones during the Troubles. As this is now an ongoing legal matter, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”