By SHAWN POGATCHNIK - Associated Press
DUBLIN (AP) — Britain said Thursday it will offer compensation payments to the families of people killed and wounded on Bloody Sunday, a nearly 40-year-old massacre by British paratroopers in Northern Ireland that fueled Irish Catholic support for the IRA.
Thirteen people were killed and 14 wounded on Jan. 30, 1972, in Londonderry when the soldiers opened fire on a Catholic crowd demonstrating against Britain's detention without trial of Irish Republican Army suspects. Britain compounded local fury by hastily ruling that the soldiers, none of whom were wounded, were responding to IRA attacks and targeting gunmen.
Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron apologized after a 12-year investigation found that the soldiers were not under attack and fired without justification on unarmed civilians, many of whom were fleeing or aiding wounded.
Britain's Defense Ministry confirmed Thursday it has written to lawyers representing the Londonderry victims' families seeking terms for financial payments. It offered no details of potential payouts.
"We acknowledge the pain felt by these families for nearly 40 years, and that members of the armed forces acted wrongly. For that, the government is deeply sorry," the ministry said in a statement.
Peter Madden, a Belfast lawyer who represents many of the victims' families, said negotiations would open soon with the British government to put a price both on the lives lost and maimed and on the damage caused to victims' reputations by the British Army's "shameful allegations" that they were armed IRA members.
My Irish brothers: make them give you Queen Lizzie's crown jewels too!