Bloody Sunday family reject MoD payout

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The Independent Online

Relatives of one of the Bloody Sunday victims firmly rejected any offer of Government compensation today.

Sisters Linda and Kate Nash, whose teenage brother William was among 14 men who died after paratroopers opened fire on civil rights protesters in Londonderry in January 1972, said: "I find it repulsive."



The Ministry of Defence confirmed today that moves are under way to compensate the families following representation from solicitors acting on behalf of some of the relatives.



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.



"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."



Prime Minister David Cameron has already apologised to victims and said the shootings were wrong.



An MoD spokesman said: "We acknowledge the pain felt by these families for nearly 40 years, and that members of the armed forces acted wrongly. For that, the Government is deeply sorry.



"We are in contact with the families' solicitors and where there is a legal liability to pay compensation, we will 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.



It found that all 14 who died and the others who were injured almost four decades ago were unarmed and completely innocent.



The troops 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 mammoth 5,000-page report revealed.



Soldiers later insisted they had only retaliated, in an attempt to cover up the truth, according to the document - described as "shocking" by Mr Cameron.



"We found no instances where it appeared to us that soldiers either were or might have been justified in firing," it declared.



"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 conflict and helped ignite 30 years of violence by the IRA.



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



The MOD's move followed a letter sent to the Prime Minister by solicitors for the families, asking what he was going to do about Bloody Sunday.



He described the killings as unjustified and unjustifiable.



Defining who would be eligible for compensation could be complicated as many immediate family members are already dead.



Relatives received a small payment worth a few hundred pounds from the MOD, without admitting liability, shortly after the event.



The Public Prosecution Service has been considering the matter.







Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott called on the Commission for Victims and Survivors to urgently report on all Troubles-related compensation payments.



"Three hundred police officers were murdered during the Troubles, 277 by the IRA. How many children and grandchildren of those who paid the ultimate price for putting themselves in harm's way to protect the rest of us have suffered as a result?



"How many missed out on a full education, or a decent summer holiday, not to mention the love, care and attention of a parent?"









Madden and Finucane Solicitors represents the families of some of those killed and wounded on Bloody Sunday.



Peter Madden said the 1974 ex-gratia payments to victims were based on the flawed conclusions of Lord Widgery, who reviewed the event, and were "derisory and wholly inappropriate" in amount.



"The victims will not, therefore, be compensated twice as has been claimed by some commentators," he said.



He added that there was nothing unusual about the payment of proper compensation in a case like this and referred to the case of Iraqi Baha Mousa, whose family was compensated when he died after he was assaulted by soldiers in Basra in 2003.



Mr Madden said his firm wrote to the Prime Minister in January following Lord Saville's declaration of innocence of the victims, asking how the Government proposed to compensate them for the killings, woundings and "shameful allegations" which besmirched their good names for many years.



"The Ministry of Defence have now written to us indicating that they wish to settle all issues concerning compensation in the near future and we shall be considering this correspondence closely with those that we represent, and discussions will shortly commence with Ministry of Defence representatives in order to resolve the issue," he said.





Nationalist SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan said the families should be given space to digest developments.



"All of these questions involve deep and mixed emotions for the families of the dead and wounded," he said.



"They have to be respected as they try to cope with these - and deserve support in still having to come to terms with the sort of legal and legislative out-workings that stem from the deep grievances they endured and the vindication which they won."

PA

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