Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 11:27 UK

Families' dismay at Saville delay

Soldiers in Derry on Bloody Sunday
Soldiers shot 14 people dead in Derry on Bloody Sunday

Families of those killed on Bloody Sunday have criticised another delay to the Saville Inquiry report.

Tribunal chairman Lord Saville said he was "extremely disappointed" that the report would not be given to the government until March next year.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was killed, said he was "devastated" and "still in shock" at the delay.

Thirteen people died when paratroopers opened fire during a civil rights march in Londonderry in January 1972.

Another person died later of their injuries.

"When I got the information yesterday telling it would be March, it knocked me for six," Mr Kelly said.

"I couldn't believe what I was reading and I can't understand the reasons behind it."

Liam Wray, who also lost his brother on Bloody Sunday, said he hoped the families would finally be vindicated.

"I feel like a child waiting for Christmas.

"We were waiting for Christmas to have a resolution, maybe, to something that happened nearly 40 years ago.

"At least we've got a date now, and I've got something to focus on," he said.

Anxiety

Eamonn McCann of the Bloody Sunday Trust said it would be bad timing to publish the inquiry's findings in March.

"It is possible that the report will be published in the middle of an election campaign," he said.

Solicitor Des Doherty, who represents the family of one of the victims, said he was "seriously concerned" the government will be given the report before the families.

"The government, and potentially sections of the Ministry of Defence and the treasury solicitors and their clients may know what's in this report well in advance of the families, and of course the lawyers for the families.

"We will be no doubt be pushed before the world's media on the day this is published and yet again the government will be well in advance in respect of their knowledge of the report," he said.

NI Secretary Shaun Woodward said he was "profoundly shocked" by the delay.

"I am concerned at the impact on the families of those who lost loved ones and those who were injured," he said.

"I am equally concerned at the increased anxiety that soldiers serving on the day will suffer."

Publishers

It is understood the government will take some time to consider Lord Saville's findings before publishing them.

In a letter to legal teams, Lord Saville said the report, which will run into thousands of pages, must be with publishers for some months before it can be finalised.

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry is the longest and most expensive inquiry in British legal history.

The first witness was heard in November 2000 and the last in January 2005.

The tribunal received 2,500 statements from witnesses, with 922 of these called to give direct evidence.

There were also 160 volumes of evidence, containing an estimated 20-30 million words, plus 121 audio tapes and 110 video tapes.



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