Northern Ireland

Sergeant 'O' 'Felt Discarded' After Bloody Sunday Outcome

The veteran was one of 17 former members of 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment to have their actions in Northern Ireland examined.

One of the soldiers investigated in relation to the deaths of 13 civil rights protesters on Bloody Sunday in 1972 says he feels he was cast aside after it was decided he would not face charges.

Sergeant 'O' was one of 17 former members of 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment to have their actions in Northern Ireland examined.

An 18th soldier implicated died before the latest investigation began.

Sergeant O says he received an email from Public Prosecution Service Northern Ireland informing him there was not enough evidence for him to be charged.

He called the method of communication 'cheap and shoddy'.

"I felt discarded," he said.

"Just put to one side. And the piece of paper is absolute trash. It really is."

Bloody Sunday was one of the deadliest single events in the entirety of The Troubles.

On 30 January 1972, 13 men taking part in a civil rights march through Londonderry were shot and killed after the British Military was sent into the area.

Murals commemorating The Troubles on the side of houses in Londonderry
Murals on sides of houses in Londonderry.

The families of those who died have fought for decades to clear the names of their loved ones, who they say are innocent. 

This investigation by the Public Prosecution Service Northern Ireland comes after two other separate inquiries.

After 47 years of scrutiny, Sergeant O said it was a relief to be told he would not be put before a judge, and that his claims that he had not done anything wrong had finally been proved right.

He says he has no regrets.

"Part of the United Kingdom was in upheaval and it was our job to try to calm it down. We did it to the best of our ability", he said.

"I’ve been often castigated for 'it was a job well done'.

"It was well done. I’d do it again, the exact same way."

It was announced last month that one former British soldier will face charges over the Bloody Sunday shootings in Londonderry.

There have been repercussions for the safety of Sergeant O. At one point he and his family were placed under police protection, with an armed response unit within 20 minutes of them at all times.

He believes the IRA knows where he is.

"I would like to say no but I’m not that naïve.

"They know a certain amount. The IRA, or the Irish contingent, whoever they are if they want to come for me, then they’ll come."

A Historical Investigations Unit was set up to deal with investigations into deaths during the conflict in Northern Ireland.

There have been campaigns for a Statute of Limitations to be introduced to prevent historical investigations taking place.

Entering Free Derry sign on slab in Londonderry
A 'Free Derry' sign on stone slab in Londonderry.

Sergeant O supports the idea and says the slate should be wiped clean.

He said:

"The Government is entirely gutless." 

"They should draw a line under it as they've done for the IRA terrorists.

"They’re fine, they’re waving their letters of comfort. They should do the same for the British Army. Not only for Ireland but for Afghanistan and Iraq."

One soldier, known as Soldier F, last month discovered he would face two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder in relation to events on Bloody Sunday.

It is believed the legal process could last up to five years.