Kate Nash RFÉ 21 November 2015

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John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) interview Kate Nash (KN) via telephone from Doire about how the recent Stormont Agreement, called A Fresh Start, will affect the victims and survivors of the conflict in Northern Ireland in their search for justice. (begins time stamp ~ 40:30)

SB: And we’re going to Doire – we’re talking to Kate Nash. And Kate – we talked to Kate last week, of course – and her brother William was murdered by British Paratroopers on Bloody Sunday – her father, Alexander, was severely wounded. Kate, thank you very much for being with us.

KN: You’re very welcome, Sandy. Thank you for asking me.

SB: Well Kate, as I said, last week we covered the news that someone was finally arrested for your brother’s murder and the big news this week is the British government says they’ll pay his legal bills. How does that make you feel?

KN: Oh, my! Well, I got the news actually the way I usually get my news – from a journalist – I don’t buy newspapers anymore, Sandy, they’re so depressing – the news. But he called me and he told me about it – it was late afternoon Tuesday. Just stunned – it was stunned actually. I was kind of slow to anger but I did become angry within a few minutes because what they said was that they owed a duty of care to former soldiers so we’re going to foot their legal expenses. No mention, of course, of the duty of care to their citizens. And thinking it through I did come to some conclusions then about it. For instance, the MoD is not a caring employer…

SB: …Sorry, that’s the Ministry of Defence?

KN: That’s the Ministry, sorry – that’s the Ministry of Defence, yes. They’re not a caring employer because otherwise they would not have hung these soldiers out to dry in the first place. Remember, these guys carried the entire blame for Bloody Sunday as was concluded in the Saville Inquiry. So in effect they protected the higher ranks from any sort of investigation. And we know the plan for Bloody Sunday went right to government level so if they don’t support these killers then there’s a good likelihood that if this goes – when it goes to court – I’m going to be positive – when it goes to court – they’ll sing like canaries. So the government will be taking into account the current morale, too, of the military because those soldiers might be thinking: Is this something I’m going to have to face in the future? And as for them recruiting young people for the Army I mean that would seriously damage the numbers they could depend on, you know?

SB: And Kate, this guy – and we do not even know the name of this person who was arrested.

KN: No, no – Soldier J – that’s all we know.

SB: But he was a Corporal…

KN: …a Lance Corporal – a Lance Corporal.

SB: Well, any kind of Corporal – a Corporal’s a Corporal as far as I’m concerned. But they don’t get to decide where they’re going to go. He didn’t wake up in the morning and think: Oh, I think I’ll go to Doire. They’re having a peaceful civil rights march – I think I’ll go there. Somebody decided it for him. And we actually know who that was.

KN: Yes, we know that that soldier obviously followed orders – followed orders. And well, the whole thing’s questionable – but they took the blame, they took the blame for what happened on Bloody Sunday, of course. But you see this whole thing, Sandy, this whole thing and how it’s happening actually just reaffirms to the Bloody Sunday families that this did go right to the top.

SB: There was a guy named Sir Robert Ford – they’re all ‘Sirs’ now by the way.

KN: Yes, that’s right: General Jackson, General Ford – and they’re still there; they’re still alive. ** General Jackson, for instance, I think I told you actually last week, he was called back from I believe it was Iraq – he was at the Inquiry and was called back from Iraq because of his lies. And this guy should be facing investigation, too – and he’s not.

JM: Well, they probably all should be in The Hague. Kate, John McDonagh here – I wanted to get your take on the settlement that happened up in Stormont there during the week and it seems the one big thing that they were able to solve the problem – that they would continue to get paid. I mean that was a big obstacle to them – they managed to get over that. But what do you think about Fresh Start and what has happened now with the victims of The Troubles?

KN: Well, Fresh Start – I tell you what – and I know a lot of people on the ground, ordinary people like myself, and what they think about this Fresh Start – we had the Haass talks, we had the Good Friday agreement, we had the St. Andrews thing – it goes on and on and on and has been for what? Something like seventeen years. People here are now just becoming detached from the government. I mean they don’t make – for instance, welfare reform. Sinn Féin now started a big campaign over a year ago: Say No to Welfare Reform. Stand Up to the Tories. Say No to…all of that. Yet now, when they could be doing something about it then they just hand it over to the Tories to make the decision thinking, of course, that people here are stupid enough to believe that if the Tories implement it then they’d get the blame for it.

Of course, we know better. They’re just like Pontius Pilate – they’ve washed their hands of it. But we know who does it. And we know who’s responsible for what happening here – for making the bad decisions.And when they did finally pass it over to the Tories – they’d been fighting this for how long now – this welfare reform? And they ended up making a very poor decision and cost the country more money and so welfare reform is going to be less to go around. So it’s not a good government up there and like I said people are becoming detached. And I’ve even heard Nationalist people – Nationalist people – saying that they’d rather be ruled from Britain, you know? So that’s how ridiculous a situation we live in here!

SB: Kate, they did take care of their pay cheques.

KN: Oh! Of course, yes. But that’s all they’re worried about, Sandy, that is all they’re worried about is their jobs and their money. Like I said, they can’t even make good decisions for the citizens. And like I said they parked the legacy issues – of course they had to park that because they were trying to set up a process that quite honestly was not human rights compliant. The Justice Minister had already said publicly that they wouldn’t expect more than one or two arrests. But still no decision on that because Britain, Great Britain, won’t open their files, they won’t give any evidence, they won’t let people know what they were doing here during The Troubles and we know they were here doing plenty. They were complicit in many, many more murders than they would admit to.

SB: But Kate, as you say, if your relative was killed as the result of British collusion with someone like Stakeknife, Mr. Scappaticci, you are not even going to be able to get the information on that – let alone have anybody arrested.

KN: No, no. I know that. I know that and there’s lots of victims/victims’ families out there and just to be able to – I mean I call it a burden, obviously, and I use the words duty of care towards my brother because I loved him and that’s why we continue to fight because it’s just so important for victims and victims’ families to get justice on these things. But no, Britain refuses – it’s just it’s a secret – as they keep their secret files and their secret meetings and everything’s secret and their excuse is “national security” – but national security they use to cover their criminality, their involvement in the murders, many murders, that they were complicit in in this country.

JM: Kate, this is all part of a process of just wearing people like you down and hoping for other people to die that were – back then. And even with Sinn Féin – now we’re coming up in January where you’re going to have the Bloody Sunday March in January – how is that shaping up and how is the divisiveness going to be next year? Because we’ve seen other years: That there shouldn’t be a march. You should get over it. Why do you keep dragging up the past. While on July Twelfth somebody’s banging a drum in front of your house about 1690 but let’s forget about something about thirty or forty years ago.

KN: Well I can tell you – John, I can tell you something: For starters I do not intend to move on. I live my life – and I think I live it – I try to live it normally – I’ve got a son – I’ve got grandchildren who I adore. I love my life – I go on holiday but I fight this battle, too, and I will continue to fight this battle for justice – because my brother – I love my brother. My brother deserves to have justice. We’ve never had a level playing field here. I mean that was often mentioned, for instance, at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry – often you heard that saying you know: a level playing field. We’ve never been on one. They’ve always held all the cards – all the aces. But you know what? It’s going to stop me. It won’t stop my sister. It won’t stop my family and it won’t stop a lot of other victims’ families who are looking for justice. Because it’s just something that you need to have – a human being just needs to have that – absolutely vital – vital to your well-being and to your psyche – it’s vital to have it.

SB: Now Kate, I want to come back for a minute to this soldier who’s been charged with your brother’s murder and with gravely wounding your father: Now, he’s been released without having any to put up any bail whatsoever – never had to even go to court and face a judge. And now the British government says: Well, thank you very much – we’re going to cover your legal bills. Now maybe I’m just cynical, but it makes me wonder if he’s ever going to come to trial?

KN: Well, I live in hope – a glimmer of hope. I’ll tell you what – I can tell you something: One of the survivors of Bloody Sunday – just to give you a comparison here – one of the survivors of Bloody Sunday on the nineteenth of December last year tried to take out a case against the soldier who shot him – he was trying to sue him but he needed legal aid – he’s a pensioner – it’s a state pension – very basic money coming in. And he was refused legal aid to do that. That’s what I mean when I say, Sandy, about we’re not on a level playing field. You know, this man couldn’t challenge the soldier who shot him. They wouldn’t allow it.

JM: And Kate, the cost of this is going to be enormous! I mean I don’t know if it’s just The Six Counties but every time you hear the amount of money these solicitors and barristers get – it is unbelievable!

KN: I can tell you the British government will probably, in all likelihood, they will probably go for the very best in the country they will get for these soldiers but I like to think I have a good solicitor, too, you know – I have a good legal team, so I’m quite confidant. I’m confident in their work – I wouldn’t be fully confident that the British government will allow justice to be done nor seen to be done. But we will still continue to fight.

SB: Well Kate, we want to thank you very much but unfortunately Sinn Féin doesn’t seem to be in your corner too much here.

KN: No, no they’re not. They never really have been. But we knew that. We knew that.

SB: Well, we’ve been talking to Kate Nash whose brother, William, was killed on Bloody Sunday. And Kate, thank you very much for coming on and as I said last week we want to keep in touch with you about anything that happens on this case because you’re always welcome to Radio Free Éireann.

KN: Oh! Thank you. Thank you very much, Sandy, and you’re very welcome. Thank you. (ends time stamp ~ 53:28)

** Editor’s Note: General Robert Ford died three days after this interview.

Kate Nash RFÉ 14 November 2015

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Sandy Boyer (SB) and Martin Galvin (MG) interview Kate Nash (KN) via telephone from Doire about the recent arrest of a British Army soldier accused of multiple murders committed on 30 January 1972 in Doire – the day known worldwide as Bloody Sunday. (begin time stamp ~ 32:00)

SB: And we’re now talking to Kate Nash, whose brother, Willie, was murdered on Bloody Sunday – her father, Alex, was very gravely wounded. Kate, thanks so much for being with us.

KN: You’re very welcome, Sandy. Thank you for inviting me.

SB: And Kate, before we get to the very serious political issues here I want to talk a minute just on a personal level: What does it feel like to you after all these years that someone has finally been charged with your brother’s murder?

KN : Well, I got a call a few days before that (inaudible) court delays in questioning soldiers and that they would resume as soon as it was practical – that was the Friday before and then Tuesday I had another call to say that they had arrested a soldier in connection with the murder of my brother, William, Michael McDaid, John Young and the attempted murder of my father, Alexander Nash. I was absolutely astonished. I couldn’t believe it.

SB: Do you feel any satisfaction that after all these years someone has finally been charged?

KN: I think the word would be relief. He’s not actually been charged, Sandy. They kept him for thirty hours and they let him out on bail pending further inquiries.

SB: Yeah, I do want to get to that but for a minute I’d like to just talk about the impact of this on your family because you told me that your father, Alex, felt guilty all his life because he was shot when he went to save his son.

KN: He was shot twice…he was shot twice. My father always felt that he should have died – he should have died. He just felt so guilty that he had survived that day. Of course, we didn’t feel – we love our father so we were glad he had survived that day – you know – an absolute miracle that he wasn’t. He actually went out to help my brother in a hail of bullets, according to eyewitness accounts. So he was a good father.

SB: And it kind of ruined his life.

KN: Well, yes. He suffered very badly for years up until his death; he died of cancer actually in 1999. But he suffered very badly with post-traumatic stress disorder – it was terrible. I mean he didn’t have it all the time but certain things started it off – you know? And it was horrible to watch – it was very painful for him because he went into that day all over again or he went into the fact that there was paratroopers coming out of helicopters and always worried about our safety. Even when he was ill in hospital he always wanted us to leave the hospital you know – to prove to him that we could get out – we weren’t there sort of arrested or something like that. You know, he was afraid for us and always sort of felt that paratroopers were there or around, you now? And that’s the way his life went.

SB: And so Kate now, finally, someone was at least arrested but do you really think that you’re finally going to get justice in this case?

KN: There’s more than a glimmer of hope, yes.

SB: But as you know, as you started to tell us – and we don’t even know the name of this former Lance Corporal.

KN: He’s known as ‘Soldier J’, that’s right. And actually there’s seven more soldiers, that we found out, have actually challenged in the high court in London – they put in an emergency judicial review against the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) arresting them believing this to be politically motivated – welcome to our world – that’s what I say to that. But they also want twenty-four hours notice of arrest so that they can present themselves to a police station. The PSNI have responded to this and they have said that they will be treated like any other suspect.

SB: Well, we’ll wait and see about that. But this individual has been released on what they call ‘police bail’. Now it’s a little better than – it’s even less than: If you are picked up for jaywalking in New York they give you what they call a desk appearance ticket. When you get a desk appearance ticket they give you a court date – he doesn’t even have a court date.

KN: No, nothing like that – nothing like that. Although the police have told me that there will be more eminent arrests. What I could say about this, Sandy, and I don’t know if you’re seeing it online, but we’re hearing that there’s going…the Para Regiment at their HQ are actually protesting this. And they’ve actually issued a statement of support for these Bloody Sunday soldiers offering welfare assistance for them and their families if needed. And there’s an online petition for the British government demanding pardons for these soldiers and a protest march for later this month in London is also being planned for the same reason. Apparently this petition they have online has twenty thousand signatures actually demanding that these soldiers get pardons. And could I further say, Sandy, at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry the terms of references were that these soldiers had immunity from prosecution. The only requirement for them was that they tell the truth. And the Bloody Sunday Inquiry concluded that this particular soldier, Soldier J, and many others of course, fired without fear or panic and only lied. These soldiers have already been given an opportunity to walk away from this and all they had to do was tell the truth – and they didn’t do it.

MG: Kate, this is Martin Galvin – I’m in the studio also.

KN : Hello, Martin.

MG: How you doing, Kate? You said that this case was, that the PSNI were saying it was like any other arrest. I remember, for example, some time ago Ivor Bell was arrested on an incident that happened in 1972. He was taken before a court and initially he was held before a judge would set bail, his name was publicised, formal charges were preferred, he was given a court date to return. How did what happen to this British trooper compare to that?

KN: Well, there’s no comparison. There’s absolutely no comparison. As far as I know to date Ivor Bell – and that is still pending – I mean that still hangs over his head even though I don’t believe there’s any evidence even in that case. Apparently others have been told that there will be no further – nothing pending on them. But apparently this still hangs over Ivor Bell. So this soldier – now this soldier was just questioned – I don’t know even if he gave any answers but this soldier was just questioned for thirty hours and then let go on police bail.

MG: So there’s no charge of either or murder or perjury – there’s no court date, he may never have to go back to court, his name is unknown – nothing like that that would happen with any Republican.

KN: No, absolutely! No comparison whatsoever, Martin, no comparison.

SB: So there’s very good reason to think though that this man might never come to trial and certainly might never be convicted.

KN: This has been delayed. This police investigation has been going on now for three years and of course suspects – always the police – if they have suspects – then they would question them first. Now obviously they’ve questioned something like a thousand civilian witnesses and there’s nothing else they can do but question these soldiers. I believe the delay – they have done everything they can to delay this – and do you know what, Sandy? I don’t know why this is happening now. I don’t know why. I’m just…I do see it as a positive move. And like I said there’s a glimmer of hope. I just hope and pray that these soldiers will finally be brought to trial and face a court of justice. And whatever punishment is deemed we’ll accept that. Whatever a judge considers as punishment – we’ll accept that – but we need to bring them to trial.

SB: Kate, I hate to be cynical about this…

KN: …Yes, I know. I’m very cynical myself. I’m very, very cynical myself, Sandy.

SB: You always wonder if, when something like this happens, if they might just be trying to prop up the peace process?

KN: It could be. It could be – absolutely! There could be many reasons why they’ve decided to do this now. I mean five days before they actually told me – they actually said they hadn’t questioned any soldiers for whatever delays they were having. And then suddenly they had a soldier? They had arrested a soldier? So I don’t know. I am very cynical, Sandy, obviously. We’ve waited almost forty-four years for justice. But I just live in hope. I just live in hope because it would give the families such peace of mind if this could finally be ended.

SB: Now, Kate, just to take the best possible interpretation of this: All they’ve done is charged a Lance Corporal in this. They haven’t charged anybody who gave him the orders to go in. For instance, there’s a Major General, Sir Robert Ford, who ordered that the Paratroopers be sent into Doire after they had massacred people in Ballymurphy in Belfast – so he knew when he ordered them in what he was doing. Any prospect that he would be charged?

KN: Well, as you know – the Bloody Sunday Inquiry concluded that this was all down to nine rogue soldiers – “bad apples” they called them – and one lowly officer. Do you know what? I’ve almost forgotten his name – I know he lives in France somewhere on the border of Belgium…

MG: …(Lieutenant Colonel) Derek Wilford?

KN: …and there’s no chance that’s he’s been – he hasn’t been brought in for questioning – not yet. I don’t expect General Ford because apparently he doesn’t have – they reckon these soldiers just disobeyed orders.

SB: But right on the ground – they like to call him Mick Jackson – Sir Michael Jackson, please!

KN: That’s right. He lied.

SB: The Chief of General Staff, yes.

KN: General Jackson was the man who actually took this to every embassy around the world and lied and said that the Bloody Sunday victims were bombers – gunmen and bombers.

SB: But this is the guy who went on to become the Chief of the General Staff of the British Army.

KN: He rose through the ranks and in fact would be the spokesman for the Army.

SB: And he commanded them going into Iraq.

KN: That’s right. In fact, he was actually brought back a second time to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry because of telling lies again.

SB: I mean, we’ve talked to Eamonn McCann about this, he’s written several books on it, and Eamonn believes – he can’t prove it – that this had to come up through the Cabinet – that – and very likely that Maggie Thatcher even knew about it.

KN: Actually, Edward Heath was the Prime Minister of the day and yes, there’s a lot of stuff there – that you might – we do believe: Yes, that it was ordered from the government, yes – it goes all the way up. But of course, they sacrificed nine “bad apples” and one lowly officer.

MG: Kate, just before that, originally the Bloody Sunday soldiers had been whitewashed – there was a whitewash by Widgery and one of the aspects of that whitewash seemed to be that after the incident the troopers were brought together – they were told to get together or they had assistance in preparing a version that they would all put forward to justify what had happened.

KN: That’s right. Yeah.

MG: There were British troopers involved with that in conducting this whitewash and getting that story together.

KN: That is right. Yeah.

MG: Didn’t Mike Jackson play a prominent role in doing that?

KN: He was the man who (inaudible) stuff like that and that was found out very quickly to be not true, you know.

MG: They have an offence in most countries, they call it subornation of perjury – wouldn’t that shot list come very close to making out that charge?

KN: Well absolutely, of course. But these soldiers – they simply weren’t – they never went up the ranks – they just didn’t go up the ranks – that’s the British government protecting their own.

MG: Alright, but you had – the British government – there was a Widgery Inquiry, there was a formal whitewash, they were said to try and vindicate them and put forward the notion that a British judge had said that they were totally innocent – that they were justified in the firing – that went on and on for years.

KN: Yes. Indeed it did. Yes.

MG: Okay, you still, you – your sister, are key people in organising the protests that still continue on Bloody Sunday…

KN: …Yes. The Bloody Sunday March, yeah.

MG: Is that going to continue? And how important do you think those protests continuing are in getting you to this day where somebody’s actual been questioned?

KN: It’s very important – of course it’s very important that’s why we picked it up, Martin, five years ago when the Sinn Féin actually dropped it. You know they didn’t want the march to go on after the thirty-ninth. Of course, at that stage we were very suspicious and my sister and I decided that we were going to do a little protest ourselves. I mean – we never thought – we just turned the corner – when they were going on to the Guild Hall we turned the corner into Rossville Street where the murders happened and delighted – delighted to say – and I never expected it – but thousands of people followed us. We knew we could continue on with that commemoration march every year.

MG: Alright. Now that continues. Do you think that that commemoration and the thousands of people – I’ve attended it on several occasions – the thousands of people that keep attending it, keep putting pressure on the British government, keep calling what they did murder – do you think that that is important in driving forward the process so that British troopers are not only questioned and released but that they actually end up in a court room on charges of either manslaughter, murder or perjury?

KN: It’s very, very important that that march continues. It’s important because the British government – they know that we have people – and people come from all around the world, Martin, to attend that march. And it’s very important that we have that support and thank God for it! But I believe that that is the telling factor – that is what’s making them – and our own protests that we do when we think something needs to be highlighted throughout the year. Yes, absolutely! All that support – support from people around the world – absolutely we believe that’s what’s pushed it this far – that is what’s got us to where we are now.

We’ve actually have stepped-up this campaign over the last few years. I don’t believe it was – because it was a campaign that was kinda organised by Sinn Féin and it was taken over by Sinn Féin from the families originally and I don’t believe it was a proper campaign in the sense that they were actually looking for justice for the families of Bloody Sunday. I think it was just something that they wanted to control and I do too believe there was collusion between them and the British government – I mean, nothing I can prove but however – I do believe it.

SB: Well Kate, this week, right after this individual was arrested Sinn Féin in Doire came out with a big statement that was in The Derry Journal, the local paper, saying how they were supporting the families and implying that this was a great victory for the peace process. How did that make you feel?

KN: Well – supporting the families – we actually asked to meet recently with all the political parties and Sinn Féin – I actually had an email from Gerry Adams, a man I’ve never met, telling me about a meeting. And I wrote back to him to saying: Well, just say when and where. And that hasn’t happened yet. So I don’t think Sinn Féin’s really, truly supporting the families. I do think they have to say that for their followers out there, people who vote for them, because it wouldn’t look too good if they didn’t support it – if they were seen not to be supporting families from the massacre – I mean this was a huge massacre in Doire and this still affects the citizens of this town even today.

SB: But Kate, before we let you go – first of all thank you very much for coming on but what do you think? Where does it go from here? Are you hopeful? Or do you think the odds are against justice ever being done?

KN: I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful. Sandy, and I would ask all your listeners, all the Irish-Americans, all the Americans that listen to your show I would ask them: Please, get your Senators and Congressmen – please let them know that these families are waiting for justice for almost forty-four years. And this is a burden we would like to lay down. We need justice. We need justice and if they could please contact their government – people they vote for – and let them know how important this is to the Irish people and to these families.

SB: Well Kate, again, I want to thank you for coming on. I want to just tell you something: You have my number. If anything happens, whether it makes the papers or not, call me – we’ll get you on. And I don’t have to tell you – sometimes the most important things that happen never make the papers. So, this is Radio Free Éireann. We’re not impartial between Bloody Sunday families and the British government. We don’t make any pretense of that. So please, we’re here to support you. Whenever anything happens get in touch and we’ve got to keep covering this.

KN: I will happily do that, Sandy. Thank you very much for having me and thank you very much for highlighting the Bloody Sunday massacre. (ends time stamp ~ 52:02)