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.
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)