Bloody Sunday Memorial March - 50th Anniversary

People take part in a Bloody Sunday memorial march on the 50th anniversary of the massacre

Ciarán Shiels of Madden & Finucane Solicitors represents the majority of the Bloody Sunday Families and Wounded. He represents all the Bloody Sunday victims who were reported by the Police Service for Northern Ireland to the Public Prosecution Service on foot of an allegation that they took part in an illegal public procession to Bishop Street Courthouse on 25th August 2023.

This was the day that the criminal prosecution against Soldier F was re-commenced, after the Bloody Sunday victims overturned a decision taken by the PPS to withdraw all charges of murder and attempted murder in respect of some of those unarmed civilians that he murdered in Derry on 30th January 1972.

Mr Shiels also represents Mr Colum Eastwood the Member of Parliament for Foyle who was one of the individuals who had a file forwarded by the PSNI to the PPS concerning a formal criminal complaint made by Mr Jamie Bryson to PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Robert Singleton, that the Bloody Sunday victims, their solicitors, Ciarán Shiels and Fearghal Shiels and their political representatives who included Colum Eastwood MP, Padraig Delargy MLA and Councillor Christopher Jackson all took part in an unlawful public procession to attend the Soldier F murder hearing.

Formally responding this morning to the Public Prosecution Service No Prosecution Direction, Ciarán Shiels said:

“This is a victory for common sense. We welcome the PPS decision in this matter, which applies to all those potentially facing criminal prosecution. We also recognise the Directing Officer’s public commitment that she would come to her decision in respect of any potential prosecution as expeditiously as possible.

“This was a matter that never should have troubled the PPS, who have genuine and serious criminal cases that require to be progressed through the courts. This case could not possibly have passed the ‘interests of justice’ limb of the well-known legal test for prosecution. The decision taken by the PPS this morning was the only sensible and rational decision that could be taken in the circumstances.

“However, in stark contrast, the PSNI, at the highest level, have extremely serious questions to answer.

“The attempted prosecution of the Bloody Sunday victims was initiated by the convicted criminal Jamie Bryson. He was not present in Derry on 25th August 2023. He could not have been inconvenienced or intimidated in any way by the dignified journey of the Bloody Sunday victims to the local Courthouse. No one was.

“The preposterousness of Mr Bryson’s proposal for the prosecution of the Families and Wounded is underscored by the fact that the complainant himself was, found guilty of the criminal offence of taking part in unnotified processions and obstructing traffic in 2015, for which he received a six-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years at Belfast Magistrates Court. These offences took place during incidents connected to the loyalist flag protests which were prevalent at that time. In addition to the foregoing, Mr Bryson has also been on bail for a considerable period of time and awaits trial as a defendant in our Crown Courts for an offence of criminal conspiracy alleged to have been committed by him over a three-week period in 2015.

“Notwithstanding this, the complainant has a relationship with the PSNI that provides him with ready and direct access to a police officer holding the rank of Assistant Chief Constable. Mr Bryson saw fit to publicly disclose on social media, the fact that he made this criminal complaint to ACC Robert Singelton immediately after providing his statement to him.

“However, far from warning Mr Bryson to immediately desist from wasting valuable police time, the PSNI at this senior level directed this plainly spurious complaint be investigated. This decision was taken knowing full well that genuine victims of State violence, all of pensionable age, would endure for months (including over the Christmas period) the very real possibility of being subjected to arrest by the PSNI and subsequent prosecution by the PPS in the criminal courts. We now intend to immediately lodge a detailed complaint on behalf of the Families and Wounded to the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.”

Michael McKinney, one of the brothers of William McKinney, whose murder Soldier F is to stand trial for said in response to the PPS decision:

“Jamie Bryson has no genuine interest in the events of Bloody Sunday. He is motivated by self-interest, publicity stunts and an overriding concern to keep himself relevant. He has been tolerated by an element within the Police Service of Northern Ireland to the point where he has been facilitated to make a hurtful and mischievous complaint against the Families who were facing one of their most difficult days in this seemingly endless prosecution. He has attempted to equate the activities of Loyalist bandsmen with the Bloody Sunday Families and Wounded who were walking the streets of their own city to attend court as a mark of support for the Public Prosecution Service in the prosecution of the ex-soldier who casually murdered our loved ones with impunity until now.

“I welcome the decision of the PPS. It was the only decision they could have come to. What I am angry about is the timid appeasement and then the active facilitation of this malicious complaint which has hung over us now for almost six months.

“The PSNI proudly claim to be ‘a victim-lead organisation’. I think the most Senior Officers in the PSNI need to ask themselves whether they have protected the rights and interests of victims in this instance. In relation to this case, they should be ashamed and mortified at their own actions and they owe the Bloody Sunday Families and Wounded a sincere and public apology.”