By Anthony Neeson
Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has claimed there would be “a storm of utter fury” if former British soldiers are charged with the Bloody Sunday killings, while former IRA members “get away with” their actions.
Mr. Johnson, who resigned from the British government last year over Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans, was responding to reports that four former members of the British Army Parachute Regiment are to be charged with murder in connection with the January 1972 Bloody Sunday killings in Derry, which left 14 civilians dead during a civil rights march in the city.
Prosecutors are to meet with the families of the victims on March 14 before making public whether the soldiers will face trial.
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“They [British soldiers] did not get up in the morning with the intention of killing and maiming innocent civilians,” wrote Mr. Johnson in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“Are we really proposing to send old soldiers to die in jail – after we gave dozens of wanted terrorists a get-out-of-jail card under the Good Friday Agreement? Is that balanced? Is that fair?”
He added: “No – if these men are put on trial for murder, it will be an absolute outrage not because they are old, and may die in jail; not because Bloody Sunday took place 47 years ago; not because they were serving soldiers up against bomb throwers.”
Mr. Johnson also tweeted: “We mustn’t let politics trump justice in this travesty of a Bloody Sunday trial. What signal does it send out to our brave armed forces?”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, who is a Derry MLA, responded: “It says, ‘if you murder 14 unarmed civil rights marchers you should expect to be prosecuted.’”
Foyle MP, Sinn Féin’s Elisha McCallion, also hit back at Johnson’s comments saying they were “hurtful to the relatives of those killed.”
“The remarks also showed disrespect to the ongoing court case into the massacre by attempting to preempt the legal outcome,” she said.