Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service has announced there is enough evidence to charge one British soldier with murder for the so-called Bloody Sunday killings in Northern Ireland almost 50 years ago.
The Provisional IRA later broke away from the Official IRA and began a bloody campaign of bombings and assassinations of off-duty police officers and soldiers which only ended in 1994.
Defence Minister Gavin Williamson said the British government would offer full legal support to Soldier F.
"We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland", he said. "Our serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution".
The PPS said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute 16 other soldiers and two Official IRA men.
They also considered whether to prosecute two former members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for their role on the day, one of the seminal events during "The Troubles". "In these circumstances, the evidential test for prosecution is not met".
Relatives of the Bloody Sunday families were visibly upset after learning of the prosecution decisions at a city centre hotel on Thursday morning.More news: Jones claims Wales look exhausted ahead of decisive Six Nations Saturday
At the time, the soldiers said they had been responding to gunfire and nail bombs thrown by nationalist militants who were using the march as cover.
Campaigners are planning a rally in Derry to protest against Thursday's decision to prosecute over Bloody Sunday.
Mr Mercer also tweeted that the Bloody Sunday charges brought against Soldier F were the result of "an abject failure to govern and legislate, on our watch as a Conservative administration". The victims were all unarmed Catholics.
Families of those who were cut down march through the Bogside in Derry.
As well as the 13 who died on the day, 15 others were shot and injured. A 14th shooting victim died months later.
Former members of the support company of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment are facing possible charges from the Public Prosecution Service.
They could include counts of murder, attempted murder and causing grievous injury with intent.
Relatives sought to right the wrongs of false claims that their loved ones had been armed.More news: Huawei Watch GT with 2-Week Battery Life Launched in India
Demanding that the legal process now be moved on with no further delays, John Kelly said a decision should also be taken on whether or not anyone was to be charged with perjury in relation to the Saville Inquiry.
The incoming British Prime Minister David Cameron then issued a formal apology for the killings, calling them "unjustified and unjustifiable".
A murder investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) followed the £195 million inquiry and files on 18 soldiers were submitted to prosecutors in 2016 and 2017 for consideration. One has since died.
Papers before prosecutors included 668 witness statements and numerous photos, video and audio evidence.
"I'm feeling devastated. The most hard thing I had to do today was to call my children and tell them that there are no prosecutions for their granda and uncle".
Bloody Sunday was a massacre of innocents.
"Saville said Wray, who posed no great danger, was shot twice in the back and there were four soldiers who could have fired at him - soldiers E, F, G or H".
"But I'm very saddened for the other Bloody Sunday families who have not got justice here today and whose hearts must be broken and sore now", his brother told the BBC.More news: Game of Thrones Final Season Episode Runtimes Are Shorter Than You Thought
'Soldiers should never be above the law but the Government must not allow a new witch-hunt against our troops or old cases to be re-opened after so many years without new evidence'.
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