OF the seventeen former British soldiers involved in the shootings on Bloody Sunday, just one will face murder charges.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced that 'Soldier F', will face trial for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney.

He will also be tried for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell.

In a statement issued at 11am, the PPS said they had “concluded that there is sufficient available evidence to prosecute one former soldier”.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Stephen Herron added: “In respect of the 18 other suspects, including 16 former soldiers and two alleged Official IRA members, it has been concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.”

The deaths of 13 innocent civil rights demonstrators in Londonderry almost half a century ago helped galvanise support for the Provisional IRA early in the Troubles.

An image of a Catholic priest waving a blood-stained handkerchief as he tried to help a victim to safety on January 30 1972 went around the world.

Former members of the support company of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment faced possible charges from the Public Prosecution Service.

They included counts of murder, attempted murder and causing grievous injury with intent.

The National: Families of those who died march through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, ahead of an announcement over the prosecution of 17 former British soldiersFamilies of those who died march through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, ahead of an announcement over the prosecution of 17 former British soldiers

Families of those killed on Bloody Sunday gathered in Londonderry ahead of the statement.

Relatives were joined by supporters close to the scene of the shootings in Derry's Bogside ahead of a march to a city centre hotel where they will find out if the veterans will face court action.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was shot dead aged 17, said he was "hoping and praying" families will get news of prosecutions.

"We're all very anxious, nervous, but at the same time we're sort of fairly confident that we are going to get what we want," he said.

Standing in the Bogside on a wet but bright morning, he added: "I'm standing here where Michael was shot dead. Hoping he's looking down on me and saying 'fair play to you, I'm very proud of you'. And all the families probably feel the same way that what we're trying to achieve is for them (the victims)."

Applause broke out as the families set off at 9.15am, holding pictures of their loved ones.
As the march approached the hotel the families began singing We Shall Overcome, an anthem of the civil rights movement.

Those entering the hotel shook hands and hugged relatives before leaving them to learn the news from the prosecution service.

One of the crowd shouted: "Bring us back justice."

Soldiers had been sent into the Bogside nationalist housing estate to deal with riots which followed a Derry march defying a ban on public processions.

As well as the 13 who died, a total of 15 others were shot and injured. One of the injured died months later from an inoperable tumour and some consider him the 14th fatality.

The National: Victims of Bloody SundayVictims of Bloody Sunday

A public inquiry conducted by a senior judge shortly after the deaths was branded a whitewash by the dead victims' families and thus began a campaign for a new public inquiry.

Families of the dead sought to right the wrongs of false claims that their loved ones had been armed.

A fresh probe was eventually ordered by former prime minister Tony Blair in 1998.

The National: Victims of Bloody SundayVictims of Bloody Sunday

A decade-long investigation by Lord Saville of Newdigate concluded that the troops killed peaceful protesters and seriously criticised the decision to send them into the Bogside estate in vehicles.

The Saville report used the soldiers' ciphers to identify some its authors were sure fired lethal shots. In other cases they recorded those who had probably done so.

Following the inquiry's conclusion in 2010, then prime minister David Cameron said the killings were unjustified and unjustifiable.

An investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) followed the £195 million inquiry and files on 18 soldiers were submitted to prosecutors in 2016 and 2017 for consideration. One former soldier has since died.

Four other soldiers included in the Saville Report died before police had completed their investigation.

Papers before prosecutors included 668 witness statements and numerous photos, video and audio evidence.