By David Young, Press Association and Q Radio News
One former paratrooper is to be prosecuted for two murders and four attempted murders on Bloody Sunday, Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has announced.
The veteran, known as Soldier F, will face prosecution for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell in Londonderry in 1972.
Sixteen other former soldiers and two suspected ex-members of the Official IRA, all of whom were also investigated as part of a major police murder probe, will not face prosecution, the PPS said.
Thirteen civil rights demonstrators were shot dead on January 30 1972, on one of the most notorious days of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was killed, said many had received a "terrible disappointment".
But he welcomed the positive news for the six families impacted by the decision to prosecute soldier F.
"Their victory is our victory," he said.
"We have walked a long journey since our fathers and brothers were brutally slaughtered on the streets of Derry on Bloody Sunday, over that passage of time all the parents of the deceased have died - we are here to take their place."
Mr Kelly highlighted there were legal means of challenging the decisions not to prosecute.
"The Bloody Sunday families are not finished yet," he said.
Mickey McKinney, whose brother Willie was shot dead, said: "Everyone deserves justice, including those whose loved ones were murdered by the British state."
He said it was "disappointing" for families who had not received news of prosecutions, saying: "We are mindful of those families who received that news today, and believe me, there are many."
But he added: "For us here today it is important to point out that justice for one family is justice for all of us."
He said: "We would like to remind everyone that no prosecution, or whenever it comes to it no conviction, does not mean not guilty. It does not mean that no crime was committed. It does not mean that those soldiers acted in a dignified and appropriate way.
"It simply means that if these crimes had been investigated properly when they happened, and evidence gathered at the time then the outcome would've been different."
Bloody Sunday families arrive at the Guildhall after hearing that one soldier will face charges over the 1972 killings pic.twitter.com/Z5CWq4jw3a— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) 14 March 2019
Kate and Linda Nash, say they are sad and disappointed that no one has been charged for the murder of their brother William, gunned down at 19 in the Bogside, or for the injuries their father Alex sustained trying to get to his injured son.
Director of the PPS Stephen Herron, made a statement shortly before the victims' families gathered in the Guildhall to give their reaction.
He said: “It has been concluded that there is sufficient available evidence to prosecute one former soldier, Soldier F, for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney; and for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell. “In respect of the other 18 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. In these circumstances the evidential Test for Prosecution is not met.
He continued: “We recognise the deep disappointment felt by many of those we met with today.
"As prosecutors we are required to be wholly objective in our approach. However, that does not mean that we do not have compassion for all those who are affected by our decisions. Our role is to independently assess the available evidence and apply the Test for Prosecution.
"We are making a summary of the reasons for our decisions available today to provide assurance to the public that our statutory responsibility was undertaken in this case with absolute integrity and impartiality, without fear or favour.”
Alana Burke witnessed first-hand what happened on Bloody Sunday. She was ran over by an army vehicle.
Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill paid tribute to the families of those killed.
“It is because of your tireless efforts over many decades that the truth of what happened on Bloody Sunday is now known throughout the world," she said.
“Bloody Sunday was a massacre of innocents. Today’s decision does not change that."
However, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed the Ministry of Defence would support soldier F and pay the legal costs.
He said: "We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland.
"The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to the individual affected by today's decision. This includes funding all his legal costs and providing welfare support.
"The Ministry of Defence is working across Government to drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure our armed forces are not unfairly treated.
"And the Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution."
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "Clearly, we are indebted to those who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland.
"The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to anyone affected by today's decision.
"We recognise the suffering of anyone who lost loved ones during the Troubles. As this is now an ongoing legal matter, it would be inappropriate to comment further."
Former Grenadier Guard Mr Barry, 54, who served in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, went on: "It's all about appeasement: appeasing the IRA, appeasing Sinn Fein, and if that means throwing one or two veterans under a bus then that's what they'll do.
"It's a disgrace. How old is he? He'll be in his 70s.
"I want to know why the IRA aren't being prosecuted."
Former Coldstream Guardsman Vern Tilbury, 58, accused the country of "spitting on" its veterans.
Mr Tilbury, who served in West Belfast in 1978-79 and 1982, said: "This government is looking at us veterans as collateral damage.
"We're just a thorn in their side.
"How many more of us are going to have to go through it?"