SDLP leader Colum Eastwood used parliamentary privilege to name Private F, who was charged with two Bloody Sunday murders in 1972, in the House of Commons. Mr Eastwood made his intervention during a speech on the Armed Forces Bill given by Labor Phantom Veterans Minister Stephanie Peacock.
“Almost 50 years ago, 14 unarmed civil rights protesters were murdered in the streets of Derry by the Parachute Regiment,” he said, adding that five of those victims were shot dead by the man he named, also known as Soldier F.
“For 50 years, he enjoyed anonymity. Now the government wants to grant him an amnesty. Does the shadow minister agree with me that no one, none of the perpetrators involved in murders during our troubles, should be granted an amnesty? he said.
Earlier this month, the Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said it would not prosecute Private F for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney because there was “no more reasonable prospect ”that key evidence against him will be found admissible by a court. . Private F also faces charges for the attempted murders of Patrick O’Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon and Michael Quinn.
Last month, a judge allowed Soldier F to remain anonymous, which has been granted to him by successive inquiries into the events of Bloody Sunday. A threat assessment in March this year found he was at low risk from dissident Republicans, but the judge said the threat level could increase if he was denied anonymity and ‘a “real threat exists”.
John Kelly, whose brother Michael was among those killed on Bloody Sunday, praised Mr. Eastwood for appointing Private F. “I’m glad he did. What Colum did was the right and correct thing to do, ”he said.
“Families have known his name for many, many years, but they have been prohibited from disclosing his name,” said Kelly. “But now that Colum has actually leaked it, he’s [in] in the public domain, it’s registered so he can’t hide anymore.
Mr. Kelly did not accept that the disclosure of his name could threaten the life of Private F, as a court had decided. “I think the argument that his life could be in danger is a pile of garbage,” he said.
Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis will release proposals on Wednesday to end all prosecutions for unrest-related offenses committed by former servicemen or paramilitaries prior to 1998. All major political parties in Northern Ireland, as well as the Irish government, oppose the idea of a general amnesty.