One former British soldier will face charges over Bloody Sunday

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The announcement by the Public Prosecution Services (PPS) came 47 years after the incident took place on January 30, 1972 when a Britain's elite Parachute Regiment opened fire on a civil rights movement march in the Northern Irish city. He said he believed there was sufficient independent evidence to prosecute more soldiers and others, including graphic testimony of their guilt, and that many could be charged with perjury over attempts to cover up their roles in the killings.

A decision is also due to be taken on Thursday by the PPS on whether to charge two Official IRA suspects present on the day. The victims' families, as well as the British, Irish and United States governments, saw the findings as a step toward healing one of the biggest wounds left by the four-decade conflict in Northern Ireland that left 3700 people dead.

Mickey McKinney, whose brother Willie is one of the soldier's alleged victims, said it was "disappointing" for families who had not received the news they wanted, but added: "For us here today it is important to point out that justice for one family is justice for all of us".

The majority of demonstrators were instead directed towards Free Derry Corner in the Bogside.

He is to be charged with two murders and four attempted murders during Bloody Sunday, the event in the U2 song Sunday Bloody Sunday.

On 14 March, the prosecution service in the north of Ireland announced that just one of the surviving 17 paratroopers will face prosecution for his part in the Bloody Sunday massacre.

In a similar statement, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin acknowledged families will be disappointed at the PPP decision, but emphasised how they are showing "great dignity".

"On behalf of Sinn Féin I want to pay tribute to the Bloody Sunday families whose long, painful campaign for truth and justice has been a source of inspiration for so many".

He said: "We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland. This includes funding all his legal costs and providing welfare support".

He said the the Ministry of Defence is working "to drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure our armed forces are not unfairly treated".

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry took 12 years and cost nearly 200 million pounds (NZ$389 million).

It remains to be seen how the judicial process ultimately deals with Soldier F but there can be no doubt that politicians on all sides have failed to come up with wider structures which are capable of resolving a huge range of other legacy issues. The brother of victim Mickey McKinney, on hearing Soldier F will face prosecution in connection with the incident, said: "Everyone deserves justice".

"Our serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution".

One banner outside the Supreme Court read: "Our veterans fought for you, our veterans died for you, now it's your chance to fight for us" while another urged "stop the witch-hunt now" - an expression used by several supporters. One has since died.

A fresh investigation was eventually ordered by then-prime minister Tony Blair in 1998.

Then British prime minister David Cameron responded to the report in 2010 by apologising for the shootings, which he described as "unjustified and unjustifiable".

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