Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ireland: Justice for the dead of Bloody Sunday

Irish Times: The killing of 14 civilians in Derry on Bloody Sunday in January 1972 was 'unjustified,' Lord Saville's inquiry into the incident has concluded. The inquiry's 5,000 page report was heavily critical of the behaviour of the British army in Derry on that day and found that all those killed were innocent. The report states some of those who were killed or injured were clearly fleeing from the British paratroopers or going to the assistance of others who were dying...

The inquiry concluded that several of the troops who provided testimony about the events lied to the inquiry... British prime minister David Cameron said it had found none of the casualties posed any threat to British troops. He told the House of Commons no warnings were given, and that some of the soldiers lost control... 'On behalf of the Government, indeed on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry.'...

The report, completed over 12 years, investigated the mass killing of members of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association by members of the Parachute Regiment during a march in Derry on January 30th, 1972... Lord Saville's report said the soldiers of the support company who went into the Bogside, where the march was taking place, did so 'as a result of an order which should not have been given' by their commander... The support company 'reacted by losing their self-control... forgetting or ignoring their instructions and training' and the result was a 'serious and widespread loss of fire discipline.'...

An earlier inquiry into the events of the day by Lord Widgery was declared a whitewash and in 1998 prime minister Tony Blair called for a fresh inquiry.

This is a screen shot; for interactive map, go here.

Cameron 'deeply sorry' for Bloody Sunday: 'You don't defend the army by defending the indefensible or hiding from the truth. It is clear that the events of Bloody Sunday were in no way justified.'... Mr Cameron added that many soldiers lied about their role in events on the day and 'knowingly put forward false accounts in order to seek to justify their firing.'...

In his report Lord Saville notes the Northern government, with the agreement of the British government, had introduced internment without trial of suspected terrorists in 1971 and banned marches and processions. He says the nationalist community in particular despised internment without trial. 'Many people were interned without trial, almost without exception Catholics from the nationalist community. Over the following months there were allegations that arose that those held had been mistreated, allegations that in significant respects were eventually found to have substance.' the report says.

'What happened on Bloody Sunday strengthened the IRA, increased nationalist resentment and hostility against the army and exacerbated the violent conflict,' the Saville inquiry, which heard evidence from 921 witnesses between 2000 and 2005, reported. 'It was a tragedy for the bereaved and the wounded, and a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland.'

British media:

BBC: comprehensive stories, background, analysis and videos: 'What happened on Bloody Sunday was wrong.'

The Guardian: 'Saville inquiry strongly condemns behaviour of soldiers who opened fire and exonerates victims'

The Independent: 'Victims vindicated -- and parachute regiment disgraced'
The Telegraph: Cameron: 'I am deeply, deeply sorry'
Don Mullan: 'I shall never forget the silence that descended on my native town'

VIDEO: Amy Goodman interviews Eamonn McCann on Democracy Now! Includes historical and current footage. Back the video to 49:12 for singing of 'The Wind That Shakes the Barley' and more historical footage.

Wikipedia: Bloody Sunday
Image sources here, here, here and here.