Former British Soldier Charged With Murder in ‘Bloody Sunday’ Massacre

The soldier, identified only as Soldier F, was on Thursday charged by prosecutors in Northern Ireland with two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder for his alleged role in the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings in Londonderry.

Thirteen civilians were killed when British Army paratroopers opened fire on a civil rights march in Northern Ireland’s second-largest city, also known as Derry, in one of the bloodiest and most-contested episodes of the sectarian conflict known as the Troubles.

Yet news of the prosecution was met with dismay in London, where many lawmakers are deeply uncomfortable at the idea that former military and police personnel face the threat of legal action for alleged offenses committed decades ago in the heat of the conflict.

Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said the government will pay Soldier F’s legal costs and pledged reforms to ensure former soldiers aren’t “unfairly treated” in investigations into Troubles-era deaths. The government has yet to publish firm proposals but ideas floated include a statute of limitations to limit prosecutions.

“Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution,” he said.

The charges represent the culmination of a fresh police investigation into Bloody Sunday triggered by a 12-year inquiry into the events of Jan. 30, 1972, that in 2010 concluded the victims posed no threat and the killings were unjustified.

The inquiry overturned an earlier report that had cleared the soldiers of wrongdoing and blamed the march’s organizers.

What happened on Bloody Sunday boosted support for the Irish Republican Army and intensified hostility toward the British military, deepening the violent conflict of the years that followed, the 2010 inquiry concluded. It called the events of that day “a tragedy for the bereaved and the wounded, and a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland.”

Former Prime Minister David Cameron, in office at the time the inquiry published its conclusions, apologized to the victims’ families.

In the latest investigation, the actions of 16 other soldiers and two IRA members were also revisited but prosecutors said a lack of evidence meant no other charges were brought.

Soldier F has been charged with the murder of James Wray, 22, and William McKinney, 26, prosecutors said, and the attempted murder of four others wounded by gunfire.

In successive probes, Soldier F and others testified that they shot at people in possession of bombs or firearms, claims roundly rejected by the inquiry.

At a press conference in Londonderry, relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday expressed disappointment no other prosecutions were brought, though they welcomed the charges against Soldier F for the deaths of Mr. Wray and Mr. McKinney after their long campaign for justice.

“Their victory is our victory,” said John Kelly, whose brother Michael also died on Bloody Sunday.

Greeted as the First Great Millennial Author, and Wary of the Attention

Her mass-market success is clearly still a little disorienting. “Light and sparkling is the phrase that has been used,” she said. “I can’t complain if people think it’s sparkling, but then there’s a sense that wasn’t what I set out to do.”

.. She found her tribe as a competitive debater — at 22, she was the top debater in Europe — and settled into what she would later describe as “an analytic way of living.”

.. They are battered, as well, by economic conditions. The 2008 financial crash, and its catastrophic effect on Ireland’s young people, hangs like an invisible backdrop to all of Ms. Rooney’s fiction. Her own friends, after receiving prestigious degrees, took retail jobs, or went on welfare, scrambling to pay exorbitant Dublin rents.

“In my parents’ generation, or even before that, people who are in their 30s or 40s, you’d go to college and it was easier to get a job in one of the big law firms, and you’ll be set up — you’ll be able to get a mortgage,” said Ms. Rooney’s partner, John Prasifka, 25, a high school math teacher. “Our generation is seeing that’s not worked out for us.”

Earlier generations may have naturally shed their leftist beliefs as they lofted into the middle class, he added. But with their cohort, he said, it is difficult to see that happening.

.. For 10 years, Ms. Rooney has delighted in Twitter, trafficking in cerebral self-mockery (“♫ getting into lengthy Facebook wars about Greek debt / using words like “creditors” and “Eurogroup” in my actual free time / why ♫”); earnest declarations (“the Irish state has always been organized on the unpaid labor of women”); and too-cool-for-school banter (“this New Statesman piece from last year is so bad I laughed until I literally wept.”) Ms. Rooney even gave her character Frances, in “Conversation With Friends,” a “Twitter voice,” which she described as “a tone of casual self-revelation that deprives others of the ability to criticize.”

.. During an interview in Dublin, she worried aloud that novelists are over-glamorized, and said newspapers should write more profiles of nurses or bus drivers.

 

Scarlet Letter in the Emerald Isle

In the 19th and 20th centuries, “fallen” or “errant” young women, as they were labeled, were hustled away to the Magdalene Laundries or mother-and-baby homes, which were essentially prisons for unwed mothers run by nuns. As Dan Barry wrote in The Times, many young women were “sent to work, and sometimes die, in guilt-ridden servitude”; hundreds of bodies of young children were discovered in an unmarked grave in Tuam in County Galway, placed there by nuns.

In the 1930s, my grandmother spirited my father’s older brother out of Ballyvaughan in the middle of the night to a nearby village after he impregnated a neighbor. The young woman was sent into exile in America. She put the baby up for adoption in New York and killed herself a year later. My uncle went on to be a landowner, the pride of the village.

In some ways, things have not changed that much.

Women who want to terminate a pregnancy for almost any reason except imminent death still face a Scarlet Letter in the Emerald Isle; they have to leave the country and fly to England if they can afford it (3,265 women went in 2016) or order sketchy pills online and risk a prison sentence.

.. Women who have become pregnant, including victims of rape, we force them to leave the country or risk a prison sentence — that would likely be longer than what the rapist would receive — if they get caught taking the abortion pills.

The Irish Exception

Then if you turn to the arenas where the pro-choice vision assumes that anti-abortion laws prod a society toward Gilead, you see … a normal-seeming and sometimes more-feminist-than-average Western country. Ireland’s maternal mortality rates are consistently low, not high, relative to its neighbors and similar countries. It has a female work force participation rate slightly below the Western European norm, but it has around the same share of women in management as Switzerland or Norway or Belgium, and the World Economic Forum’s latest “gender gap” assessment placed Ireland eighth-best in the world in terms of achieving social and economic parity between the sexes.

.. In sum, with its restrictive abortion laws, generous family policy and otherwise modern economy, Ireland seems to have achieved or maintained some notable pro-life and pro-family goals without compromising women’s health or female opportunities relative to countries with abortion on demand.