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Bloody Sunday Findings: “Unjustified and Unjustifiable”…

  • June 16th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

bloody-sunday-march.jpgThe exhaustive Saville Inquiry into the 1972 “Bloody Sunday” killings in Derry /Londonderry has declared all of those shot by British Paratropers were innocent protestors – not IRA terrorists.

bloody-sunday-troops.jpgThe British Prime Minister said in  Parliamnet (15.6.10) the shootings had been “wrong”; grieving relatives and friends expressed relief; security forces waited in Northern Ireland for possible trouble; lawyers for men who’d been in uniform that day, began arguments against their liability.

The episode began with a civil rights parade for the Republican movement, blocked by members of the Paratroop Regiment who opened fire, hitting males in the parade.

bloody-sunday-man-down2.jpgFourteen (half of them teenage boys) died after being shot, another fourteern  were injured through being shot or  struck by military vehicles.

bloody-sunday-man-down.jpgIt was in the era when British governments, mostly Conservative, resorted to get-tougher programs against an intractable campaign of terror  by the irish Republican Army, and later against the armed Loyalist groups.

Prime Minister Edward Heath, who closed down the Stormont parliament in Belfast,  had embarked on a policy of internment without trial for suspected terrorists, eight months before Bloody Sunday.

bloody-sunday-funeral.jpgIt generated a severe  public backlash; over 340 were detained before the project was dropped.

bloody-sundasy-tribute.jpgLater a no-parley stand-off, under the Thatcher government, saw IRA hunger strikers starving to death.

It has now fallen to David Cameron, successor to Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher as Tory party leader and Prime Minister, to declare the Bloody Sunday action “unjustified and unjustifiable”.

The Saville Inquiry was set up in 1998 by the Blair Labour government, requiring over a decade in time, and vast expense, to work through all available evidence, including the contributions of hundreds of eye-witnesses.

It determined that a British soldier fired the first shot, and that the unarmed victims were not IRA gunmen embarked “on operations”, as they might have declared had it been true.

Many of the survivors or those close to the deceased have themselves died since 1972, but others have been calling it a blessing to have the innocent recognised, and the guilty now exposed to justice.

The culpability of the soldiers  – whether they may have acted through malice, indiscipline or incompetence – may now be tested in the courts.

Establishing the name of whichever person may have ordered them to do it, should now lead to the same.

The soldiers on that day might well have been jumpy. The new inquiry has not discounted the presence of armed men in the crowd, considering that Martin McGuinness, an IRA member and now Sinn Fein party leader in the Stormont legislature, may have been carrying a Thompson sub-machine gun. He denies he had a tommy-gun there.

An earlier inquiry soon after the shootings in the Bogside area of Derry, the Widgery Tribunal, talked about “recklessness” on the military side but did not establish any culpability, and was widely condemned as insufficient.

The city today has seen renovations and lacks the dismal aspect of many of its streets in 1972, where commonplace  locations – a few shops where “knee-cappings” would take place, out the back; the scene of the Bloody Sunday shooting itself – conjured up bewildering images of human cruelty.

An accord brokered by the British and Irish governments and the return of the Northern Ireland parliament have brought expectations of a peaceful future, though not without incidents of violence still – a reminder of long-held enmities.

See also EUAustralia: “Ulster Troubles: Bad reminder” (14.7.09); “Just Looking: Belfast works on a good look for the future” (15.5.07).

Reference

Wikipedia, SF, “Bloody Sunday (1972)”, 16.6.10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Sunday_(1972), (16.6.10).

Pictures

Bloody Sunday 1972: cain.ulster.aC.UK, commons.wikipedia.org, sott.net,britishcouncil.org, ia-pl.org

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