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Martin Galvin speaks to Kate Nash of the Bloody Sunday March for Justice via telephone from Co. Doire about how the British government may invoke a statute of limitations to protect former British Army soldiers from prosecutions. (begins time stamp ~ 31:45)
Martin: We’re sorry. We didn’t know you were with us. Welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.
Kate: Well, thank you very much!
Martin: Kate, since we’ve had you on – the last time you were on you were giving us an update and you said there was just on the eve of a decision from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) all of the evidence was in, the Constabulary investigation was completed and it was imminent whether and which British troops would be charged for the unjustifiable and unjustified killings of your brother and others on Bloody Sunday. Where are we at now in terms of that decision?
Kate: Well we did have a meeting with the Public Prosecution Service a couple of weeks ago and at that meeting they had told us that although they made no significant progress they actually just wanted to introduce themselves. They did say by the end of the summer they would be able to, they think they would be able to give us a time frame for when they might make that decision. But I’m afraid I rather got the impression that we could be talking a few years yet.
Martin: Now these are an incident which was the focus of the Saville Inquiry, it was the focus originally of the Widgery Report whitewash, you had the whole Saville Inquiry, you had a full Constabulary investigation since that – all of that information has been out there, it’s been completed a number of years ago. You know, usually when the police make a decision or present evidence to a prosecutor you can make a decision right away. You’ve had enough where a British Prime Minister could say that those killings on Bloody Sunday in 1972 were ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’. What more, at this point, do they need?
Kate: Well they have everything they need. What they don’t want to do is they don’t want to prosecute soldiers. That’s the, I’m afraid that’s the bare facts. They simply don’t want to prosecute soldiers because, I think, that if that begins, if prosecuting soldiers becomes the norm then, a lot of what they did during this dirty war in Ireland will be exposed. Obviously these soldiers will get angry and start talking. There’s a big, there’s a big – the British propaganda machine is very much at work at the moment and has been for a number of months. We have it coming from different sources about amnesty for soldiers, about how these soldiers were only doing their duty over here protecting people and defending our country and now all these years later there’s a ‘witch hunt‘, that people are looking to prosecute them even though the IRA are not saying what they did. So in effect, are making out these soldiers actually did nothing. But of course, the IRA actually, the IRA actually go through the courts – twenty-five thousand of them have gone through the courts and a great many thousand of Loyalist paramilitaries have gone through the court, too. But only a handful of soldiers over all these years of deaths. They simply don’t want to admit to the state killings and how many they actually did.
Martin: I’m going to read from a report by Connla Young in the Irish News. He quoted a chairman of a Westminster defence committee, a Dr. Julian Lewis, who said:
To subject former soldiers to legal pursuit under the current arrangements is wholly oppressive and a denial of natural justice. The Parliament has it entirely within its power to enact a statute of limitations in this matter.
Now what would that mean if Westminster enacted a statute of limitations and said you couldn’t prosecute British troopers or members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) for any acts that occurred more than twenty years ago? What would that do to all of the fight that you’ve had for justice for your brother, for the others killed on Bloody Sunday and for many people been killed by British troops or by people hired by British troops or by the Royal Ulster Constabulary?
Kate: Martin, if something like that happened it would be truly shocking. After all the years we have struggled – forty-five years we have struggled for justice – to think that these killers could get off – people who slaughtered innocent people on the streets of Doire – and we’re talking about people who were running away – unarmed people. We’re talking about Ballymurphy. What about all the children that were killed by rubber bullets at point-blank range?
My own friend, my good friend who’s in my sitting room at the moment, her brother, fifteen year old brother was shot from the Doire walls for nothing – he was doing absolutely nothing. She just has had an inquest, just recently, where they said that the death was – well it was unjustified although the soldier responsible is dead but he apparently – you know the way soldiers have these ‘yellow card rules’ and he broke those yellow card rules about how and when you would use a gun. But that was to kill a fifteen year old boy. I know many other children who were shot at point-blank range by rubber bullets and gas canisters deliberately. Are you telling me that all these men can actually walk away?
Can I also say about Bloody Sunday, for instance? One of the soldiers there actually is believed to have killed up to five people! He’s actually meant to have killed up to five people! How can you let somebody like that walk away who shot all those unarmed people deliberately? It’s just – it would be unbelievable. It would be the most utter disgrace if that was allowed to happen – these soldiers were allowed to walk away.
Martin: Well for years we’ve heard British officials say – in fact Doug Beattie was on a radio programme with me talking about Gerry McGeough, it was on a few months ago on BBC Talkback, and you always hear them say: If anybody committed a crime, whether they’re British trooper, member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Ulster Defence Regiment – they should face a court and have evidence presented. And what happened was they were saying that for years when they knew there’d be like a Widgery Tribunal where they knew the British royal military police would just whitewash it or a Widgery Tribunal would whitewash it and because you pushed them through the Saville Enquiry, because other families have pushed through – like Ballymurphy Massacre Families have demanded inquests or like the person in your sitting room demanded an inquest – there now is coming out, when these inquests, when these proceedings do happen, you see that the killings were unjustifiable, you see that people were murdered, and you see that there is real evidence that British troopers, members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), should face a court. These are their courts that they support, that they believe in, that they think bring justice – why is it that they’re so afraid to put their members before a British court? If they think they’re innocent of murder why not let them be exonerated and prove them right under British rule?
Kate: Because there’s too much evidence against them. Can I tell you about Doug Beattie? Doug Beattie is an MLA, a Unionist MLA. The man spent his life in the Army. He joined the Army in 1980. Before him his father was in the Army and when he left the Army, when he was pensioned out of the Army, he actually joined the UDR. This man is not objective. He’s simply not objective.
Martin: Well I don’t know how he can march in front of Belfast City Hall talking about ‘Frankenstein justice‘ and how people who, British troopers, should not face courts and then at the same time he’s going around talking about how great British justice is, how great British courts are, how anybody who’s guilty of anything should face a court and not realise that it’s total hypocrisy.
Kate: Well that’s what he is. He’s a total hypocrite and a sectarian – a sectarian one at that.
Martin: What do you think in terms of will there be a statute of limitations? You now and even – someone told me a long time ago if you ever doubt that the British have a great sense of humour – the English have a great sense of humour: Just look at the way, the titles, they’ve put on legislation they used in Ireland. They’ll abolish Diplock courts, the non-jury courts, which means they use them now in civil proceedings as well as criminal proceedings. They used – they want to terrify everybody in England, or they want to terrify people they’ll say it’s the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Now if you want something to last for thirty or forty years called it a Temporary Provisions Act. They’re saying: We’re not going to have an amnesty, we’re not going to have a blanket immunity but we’ll have a statute of limitations. What would that statute of limitations mean in view of the people that you’ve been fighting to bring to courts for Bloody Sunday for so many years?
Kate: I would imagine that that would just – the slate would be wiped clean for them. They’d be able to walk away. That’s exactly what would happen. And I think that’s what they’re attempting to do at the moment. They’re trying to have it that these soldiers can actually walk away. The British have an awful lot to cover-up – the stuff they did here in this country – and they just don’t want it known. And the soldiers, if they go to court, the soldiers may become angry and it affects morale with the Army today if they would see soldiers, former soldiers, going to court and that’s what it’s really all about – you know, to cover-up what the British themselves did in this country.
And they committed some terrible acts. They had the Military Reaction Force (MRF) they had FRU (Force Reaction Unit), they had all these undercover units that actually I always believed perpetuated the war in this country. I believe they kept it going. This should have ended at least 1974. We should have had justice then. These soldiers should have been taken to court then or whatever but you may know also, Martin, we know these soldiers didn’t act on their own. We know their officers sent them in and we know that. We know for a fact that that came from government level from the office of the Prime Minister himself, Ted Heath. We know that. And these people obviously, The Establishment, never get touched when you’re talking about criminal charges. But these people all should be standing in court. Every one of them – with these soldiers. We are determined, we are determined that they will go to court. We will keep the fight going. I don’t know what we’ll do if this statute of limitations come in. I don’t how how that’ll work. We’ll probably have to look into it…
Martin: …you’ll probably have to the European Court if they’re still involved with the European Bill of Rights you may be able to have some way to get…
Kate: …well there is – I mean they’re signed up to certain things in Europe and even if Brexit, even if they leave Europe, there’s still some things that they’re actually signed up to even outside of that that they still have to adhere to.
Martin: We’re talking to Kate Nash whose brother was one of the people killed on Bloody Sunday – her father was also wounded at that time. Kate, we have to leave you in a few minutes…
Kate: …I can’t hear, Martin.
Martin: We have to close this down. We have we’re – in this programme we’re raising money to keep us, this station and this programme, on the air. The station’ll be on the air but we have to show the station managers how important our programming is to listeners so people, while you’re on the air with us, are calling in pledging money, donations to the programme, to keep us on the air. And I just want to ask you before you leave: How important – I know you listen to Radio Free Éireann as well as being interviewed by us – how important is Radio Free Éireann, the interviews that we have, to you in Doire, to other people in the North of Ireland, to other people throughout Ireland to get views on Ireland, to get the truth about British rule which you don’t usually or may not get very readily in other news outlets in Ireland?
Kate: Can you hear me, Martin?
John: There’s something wrong with the line.
Martin: I’m sorry. We didn’t hear you for a second.
Kate: No, I think it’s very important, Martin, and I do hope lots of people pledge money to keep that show on the road because it’s so important to us. Personally I had a conversation with Sandy Boyer a number of years ago, God rest his soul, and I told Sandy – I remember there was a story connected with the Bloody Sunday thing at that time and I said; You know, my local radio station isn’t even running with this story because of censorship here, you know, media censorship. That show, your show, is so important to me. Because it gives our side – it’s not just the British narrative. It gives our side – the victims’ families and you hear that and it gives us an opportunity to speak the truth to the American people, to Irish-American people, who hopefully would ring up their or email their governors and stuff like that and try to do something to help us but it’s so important to keep that show on the road because of that – because it gives us an opportunity to speak. It gives us a voice.
Martin: Alright. And Kate, we want to thank you for that endorsement. (ends time stamp ~ 45:36)