Bloody Sunday compensation agreed

 

The British Ministry of Defence is preparing to pay compensation to relatives of those killed or injured by soldiers on Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland.

Fourteen people died after paratroopers opened fire in January 1972 during a civil rights protest in Derry.

British prime minister David Cameron has already apologised to victims and said the shootings were wrong.

The ministry has written to legal representatives of the families. In a statement, the ministry accepted that members of the armed forces had acted wrongly and that the government was "deeply sorry".

The statement confirmed that compensation would be paid "where there was a legal liability to do so".

Lord Saville drew up a landmark report last year which criticised the army over the killings. His panel ruled that the army fired first and without provocation. The report found all 14 who died and the others who were injured had been unarmed and were completely innocent.

The troops had also continued to shoot as the protesters fled or lay fatally wounded on the ground. One father was shot as he went to tend to his injured son, the 5,000-page report revealed.

Soldiers later insisted they had only retaliated, in a bid to cover up the truth, the document - described as “shocking” by Mr Cameron - said.

“We found no instances where it appeared to us that soldiers either were or might have been justified in firing,” it said. “Despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers. No one threw or threatened to throw a nail or petrol bomb at the soldiers on Bloody Sunday.”

Bloody Sunday was one of the worst state acts of the Troubles and helped ignite 30 years of violence.

Victims have spent years campaigning for justice and the revision of an original probe into the massacre which they branded a whitewash.

Relatives of one of the victims firmly rejected any offer of compensation today. Sisters Linda and Kate Nash, whose teenage brother William was among the dead, described the offer as “repulsive”.

The Nash sisters said they would not take money for personal financial gain. “Not under any circumstances will I ever accept money for the loss of my brother,” they said. “I find it repulsive, taking anything from the MoD. If the MoD wants to set up bursaries they can, but not in my brother’s name.”

PA