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UK agrees to pay compensation to Bloody Sunday victims' families

The country’s Ministry of Defence has confirmed it will make payments over the killing of 13 unarmed protesters in 1972.

Families of the Bloody Sunday victims ahead of the Saville Inquiry's release last year
Families of the Bloody Sunday victims ahead of the Saville Inquiry's release last year
Image: Paul Faith/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE UK GOVERNMENT has said it will make compensation payments to the families of those killed by British Army paratroopers on Bloody Sunday.

A spokesperson for the country’s Ministry of Defence confirmed to TheJournal.ie this morning that compensation would be paid. In a statement, the ministry said it was “deeply sorry” over the killings.

Thirteen unarmed protesters died after being shot by soldiers of the British Army’s 1 Para regiment in the Bogside area of Derry on January 30, 1972. Twenty-six people were shot altogether, with one of those injured dying more than four months later. The killings took place during a civil rights march.

Last year, the UK government’s Saville Inquiry concluded that none of those killed or injured had been posing a threat to the soldiers, that they were all unarmed, and that soldiers had lied after the event in an attempt to justify their acts. On foot of the inquiry’s findings, prime minister David Cameron made a landmark apology on behalf of the UK government, saying that “the actions of that day were unjustifiable” and he was “deeply sorry”.

The amount of compensation due to families, and when payments will be made, is not yet known. But a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said compensation would be paid wherever there is a “legal liability”.

We acknowledge the pain felt by these families for nearly 40 years, and that members of the Armed Forces acted wrongly. For that, the Government is deeply sorry. We are in contact with the families’ solicitors and where there is a legal liability to pay compensation we will do so.

According to the BBC, lawyers for the families of Bloody Sunday victims had written to David Cameron after his apology, asking what compensation the government planned to offer. However, some families have said they will not look for any payment until a soldier has been charged over the killings.

Read more: Final Bloody Sunday commemorative march to take place>

Read more: Britain ‘does not intend’ to hand over Dublin-Monaghan files>

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Michael Freeman

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