10 Nov 2015

Bloody Sunday: former soldier arrested

A former soldier is arrested on suspicion of murdering three civil rights demonstrators in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

The 66-year-old ex-paratrooper, who was detained in Co Antrim, is the first person arrested by detectives investigating the deaths of the 14 people killed after the British Army opened fire on crowds of protesters in Derry’s Bogside 43 years ago.

It is understood the pensioner was arrested on suspicion of the murders of William Nash, 19, John Young, 17, and Michael McDaid, 20, who were shot dead at a rubble barricade.

It is believed he is also being questioned about the attempted murder of William Nash’s father Alexander, who came to the barrier to save his son but was shot in the arm and body.

It is also understood the soldier gave evidence to the government-commissioned inquiry into Bloody Sunday by Lord Saville.

Kate Nash, William’s sister, said: “We have always fought very hard to be treated equally within the justice system. I see this as a positive step.”

Bloody Sunday: timeline of events

30 January 1972: 13 people are shot dead by Parachute Regiment soldiers in Londonderry's Bogside during a civil rights protest on behalf of Northern Ireland's Catholic minority (another person dies in hospital four months later). The army says it was reacting to gun and bomb attacks from suspected IRA members.

April 1972: A tribunal headed by Lord Widgery supports the army's version of events.

1998: Tony Blair's government establishes the Saville Inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate, to look into what happened.

2010: The inquiry concludes that none of the victims was "posing a threat of causing death or serious injury" and that paratroopers "lost control". It says an Official IRA sniper fired on British soldiers, probably after they had opened fire. David Cameron apologises for the British Army's "unjustified and unjustifiable" actions.

2012: The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) launches a murder investigation.

2014: The PSNI says it plans to interview seven former soldiers about Bloody Sunday.

10 November 2015: A former soldier is arrested on suspicion of murder.

Thirteen people were killed by members of the Parachute Regiment on 30 January 1972. Another victim of the shootings died in hospital four months later.

A police inquiry was launched after the Saville Inquiry found that none of the victims was posing a threat to soldiers when they were shot.

Following the publication of the Saville report in 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the army’s actions (picture above), calling them them “unjustified and unjustifiable”.

The suspect detained by the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Legacy Investigations Branch has been taken to a police station in Belfast for questioning.

The officer leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison, said the arrest marked a “new phase in the overall investigation”.