Bloody Sunday families welcome report news

Families of Bloody Sunday victims tonight welcomed the announcement that the long-awaited report into the killings would not be handed to the Government before undergoing legal checks.

Families of Bloody Sunday victims tonight welcomed the announcement that the long-awaited report into the killings would not be handed to the Government before undergoing legal checks.

Mark Saville's decision to hold on to his findings while lawyers examined them for potential national and personal security issues came after the bereaved expressed concerns the state would be in possession of the 5,000-page document two weeks before them.

It was originally intended that the report into the shooting dead of 14 people by the British Army in Derry in 1972 would be passed to Northern Ireland Secretary of State Shaun Woodward next week - and the legal exercise would then commence.

But the inquiry papers, which took 12 years to compile at a cost of £200m (€224m), will now be reviewed while still under Saville's control.

The move should not alter the expected timeline for eventual publication of the document, which could now happen next month.

Families had feared the legal process could have run into the general election campaign, which would have further delayed it being released.

Victims' relatives Tony Doherty and John Kelly backed Saville's decision.

"While we disagree fundamentally with the need for a security review, we nevertheless welcome Lord Saville's decision to retain possession of the report until it is ready to be made public," they said in a joint statement.

"We feel now that this report can and should be released before the dissolution of Parliament and we urge Lord Saville to take every precaution to ensure that his report is not undermined in any way."

A spokesman for the Secretary of State confirmed the plan change.

"Following a request from the families Lord Saville has agreed that the checking process to fulfil the legal obligations on the Secretary of State will take place at the Inquiry premises," she said.

"The report will be published in Parliament as soon as possible.

"The Secretary of State intends to make a statement to Parliament on Monday before the checking exercise takes place."

Saville's inquiry was set up in 1998 to re-examine the events of January 1972, when soldiers from the Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in the Bogside area of Derry.

It was established after the original Widgery Inquiry in the wake of the killings was dismissed by the families as a whitewash.

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