With the publishing of the Bloody Sunday inquiry, the brother of one of the victims speaks to Gregg Evans about the tragedy and how he, too, suffered as a result of the shootings.
For Cahil McElhinney, the Bloody Sunday massacre didn’t just leave him without a brother – it left him branded a terrorist.
The 59-year-old maintenance worker from Birmingham was trying to come to terms with the death of his 17-year-old brother Kevin. who was shot during the civil rights march in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. in 1972. when he became the subject of abuse himself.
Cahil had to leave three jobs as both himself and his dead brother were branded IRA thugs by colleagues.
Now, after living on an emotional roller-coaster for the majority of his life, Cahil is finally able to move on with his life.
Those 38 years of battling to clear his family’s name finally came to an end as the Saville Inquiry ruled the deaths of the 14 unarmed civilians, including his brother Kevin, were “unjustifiable”.
Kevin McElhinney had been crawling from a protesters’ rubble barricade away from soldiers when he was shot, the inquiry said.
The report cleared all of the victims of any wrong-doing and found none of those killed by British soldiers were armed and no warning was given by the soldiers.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who apologised on behalf of the nation, said that the judicial system should decide whether soldiers should be tried for the carnage in Londonderry.
The report was so damning it has left relatives clamouring for justice.
Cahil, who was in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, to hear the report findings, is among those calling for the soldiers responsible to be prosecuted.
“If wrong was done and there is evidence there then they should be punished,” he said. “I don’t believe that those responsible deserve to hide away.
“Just because the killings took place nearly 40 years ago, it doesn’t mean that those responsible should walk free.
“I’m not determined to see a 60-odd-year-old man go to jail, but it would be good to see the soldiers up in court.
“That way the world can hear the truth when they give an account for themselves, because the stories they’ve told in the past have been lies.”
Cahil spoke of the difficulties he had as a young man working in Birmingham in the years following Bloody Sunday.
“It was tough growing up because a lot of people in Birmingham thought that I was part of the IRA,” he explained. “When people realised that my brother was shot, they automatically thought he was associated with the IRA, which meant I was too.
“Well that wasn’t the case, but it was hard to tell them otherwise.
“I had to leave three jobs because of it. Some people would make my life tough because they thought I was part of the IRA.
“It felt like I was constantly complaining to the personnel department, and although the trade unions supported me, there was no way around it.
“Looking back I suppose I just thought ‘sod it’ but I was a lot younger then.
“I now work for myself so I don’t have to put up with it anymore.”
The Commons fell silent as the Prime Minister took 12 minutes to deliver a statement which said he was “deeply sorry” for the deaths.