Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly member Pádraig Delargy Wednesday released a statement criticizing administrative delays in the recent prosecution of alleged Bloody Sunday perpetrator “Soldier F.” Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced a new trial would begin on Tuesday against Soldier F.
On January 30, 1972, in Derry, Northern Ireland, 26 unarmed civilians were shot by British Army soldiers for protesting against unpopular government policies. 14 of those shot were killed, and the day became known as Bloody Sunday. Solder F is accused of two murders. In an investigation by the British government, all British soldiers involved were cleared of criminal charges. In early 2021, families of those killed on Bloody Sunday expressed renewed interest in prosecuting the soldiers involved. After agreeing to prosecute the case, the PPS delayed the initiation of a trial out of fear that it would lose on evidentiary grounds.
Last Thursday, the PPS announced the trial would proceed in Northern Ireland on September 27. However, an administrative delay caused the trial’s start date to be pushed back further. Delargy released a statement Wednesday evening condemning the repeated delays, saying:
I was extremely shocked and saddened to learn of the apparent mix up for the Bloody Sunday families attending the prosecution hearing of Soldier F yesterday. The Bloody Sunday families have campaigned tirelessly for truth and justice for over 50 years. They refused to give up. To think that an apparent administration error could delay this court hearing is appalling and an affront to the families. To be set up for an experience which many find retraumatizing, only to have the rug pulled out from under them on the day, only adds insult to injury.
Delargy also expressed dismay at the failure of the justice system’s basic function, adding that “[g]iven the sensitive nature of the case I would expect and demand much better of our court services. I have asked the Department of Justice to look into this immediately and to come back to the families with a full explanation and apology.”