Authorities have announced an arrest in the “Bloody Sunday” shootings. On Tuesday, officials confirmed the arrest of a 66-year-old man, who is identified as a former British soldier. Although the man was arrested and is being questioned, his specific involvement in the massacre is unknown.
On Sunday, January 30, 1972, British soldiers opened fire into a crowd at a civil rights demonstration. As a result, 14 civilians were injured and 14 others were killed.
Due to the sheer number of fatalities, the incident is commonly referred to as Bloody Sunday. In the aftermath, officials conducted two inquiries into the incident and the soldiers’ decision to use lethal force.
The Widgery Tribunal inquiry, which was conducted by Lord Widgery, was published in April 1972.
As stated in the final report, Widgery determined “some soldiers showed a high degree of responsibility.” However, others were determined to be “reckless” in the handling of the situation.
Although the lord noted some irregularities in the soldiers’ decision to use lethal force, he concluded that “there was no general breakdown in discipline.”
“For the most part the soldiers acted as they did because they thought their orders required it. No order and no training can ensure that a soldier will always act wisely, as well as bravely and with initiative.”
The British Ministry of Defense made reparations to the families of the Bloody Sunday victims two years later as an act of “good will.” However, the government and the military denied responsibility for any wrongdoing.
Twenty-four years later, then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair ordered a re-examination of the incident, which was to be conducted by “a new, public, and independent judicial inquiry.”
The new inquiry, which was conducted by Lord Saville, lasted 12 years. As reported by BBC News, the results were published On June 15, 2010.
After spending more than $300 million and interviewing more than 900 witnesses, Saville concluded the victims were not “posing a threat of causing death or serious injury.”
Saville also noted that the Bloody Sunday massacre only “strengthened the Provisional IRA, increased nationalist resentment and hostility towards the Army and exacerbated the violent conflict of the years that followed.”
Following the release of the Saville Inquiry findings, then-Prime Minister David Cameron issued a public apology to the surviving victims and the families of those who were killed in the brutal massacre.
The first Bloody Sunday arrest was made five years later by the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Legacy Investigation Branch, which is tasked with investigating unsolved murders.
As reported by the Belfast Telegraph, the Legacy Investigation Branch is specifically tasked with investigating “more than 3,000 unsolved deaths,” which occurred amid conflicts between the Irish Nationalists and the Unionists.
On Tuesday, PSNI announced that “detectives from Legacy Investigation Branch, investigating the events of Bloody Sunday. have arrested a 66 yo man in Co Antrim this morning.”
As reported by NBC News, the agency did not discuss further details about the Bloody Sunday arrest. However, a representative confirmed the former soldier’s arrest “marked a new phase in the overall investigation.”
Britain’s Ministry of Defense further confirmed the 66-year-old man’s arrest. However, they refused comment as the investigation is still in progress.
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) November 10, 2015
Although it took more than 40 years and two official inquiries, British officials have admitted wrongdoing and apologized for the soldiers’ use of lethal force on Bloody Sunday.
Upon hearing news of the arrest, Kate Nash said she was thankful. Forty-three years ago, her 19-year-old brother William was gunned down amid the massacre.
According to Nash, the former British soldier is being questioned in the deaths of her brother and two others. He is also suspected in the attempted murder of Nash’s father.
It is unclear whether authorities plan to make any further Bloody Sunday arrests. However, PSNI indicated Tuesday’s arrest is just the beginning.