Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bloody Sunday

Something I never thought I'd ever hear a Tory, or Labour, Prime Minister say; "What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong." He went on to make clear that every person who was shot and killed by the paras that day was innocent, unarmed and a victim of injustice.

Cameron then apologised for the killings and seemed to accept the report's finding that some serving soldiers had lied under oath about their actions on that day. The victims have been exonerated of all the slanders that were told about them after their deaths. The government has taken responsibility for the actions of its armed forces. Extraordinary. The PM's full statement.

The reaction of the families was extremely moving. There seemed to be a real feeling that some kind of healing had taken place, and whatever happens next I'd like to thank Cameron for being so clear and unequivicol in his statement on the findings. Kate Nash said "My brother William. We know he was innocent, we've always known. Now the world knows." Some of families reactions.

This has been a victory for the victims and their families, even if it's a victory that took decades to long to come.

Eamonn McCann, who was there on the day, has been a long and active campaigner for justice. He said that “The responsibility for Bloody Sunday doesn’t simply rest with those on the ground, it rests with the senior officers who sent the paras into the Bogside in full knowledge of what was likely to happen. When people talk about prosecutions I think it would be unfair if they were made to carry the entire burden of guilt. There are people more culpable than them.”

Bernadette Devlin, who was also a leading light in the civil rights movement and witnessed the events said that "As a member of parliament at the time, I was denied the right to give parliament an eyewitness account. The home secretary, Reginald Maudling, lied to the House and the media willingly collaborated in uncritically repeating the government misrepresentation. In what was considered gross overreaction and disgracefully violent behaviour, I crossed the floor of the House and hit him.

"I did not call for a public inquiry, did not welcome the Saville inquiry and only testified to respect the wishes of the bereaved families. I regret none of those things, but challenge the view that it was an expensive waste of time, energy and money. Had Bloody Sunday been no more than a violent and disgraceful overreaction or unlawful behaviour on the part of a few "squaddies" or overzealous commanders, it would not have required the British government and its military to create the complicated labyrinth of lies and deceit which has taken hundreds of testimonies, thousands of pages, millions of pounds and 38 years to unravel."

The Irish Independent has a useful key facts piece on the report. You can read the entire report here.


modernity said...

I think what needs emphasising here is the fact that without pressure from the Nationalists there would have been no inquiry and we would be left with the Widgery dross.

The inquiry was extracted at a price from the British, and now Cameron makes a virtue out of a political necessity, the very cheek of it, but ever so British.

Anonymous said...

How long will we have to wait before we hear similar apologies from the republican and loyalist paramilitary groups for the deaths of innocent civilians that they caused?

Anonymous said...


Former UVF commander and PUP politician Gusty Spence read out the ceasefire statement which included an apology for the innocent victims of loyalist violence.

"In all sincerity, we offer to the loved ones of all innocent victims over the past twenty years, abject and true remorse. No words of ours will compensate for the intolerable suffering they have undergone during the conflict."