Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Robinson on Saville: “We should close the book and move on as a society “

Wed 16 June 2010, 8:48pm

First Minister Peter Robinson says he accepts the findings of the Saville report into Bloody Sunday.

He said ” I sincerely hope that the result of that inquiry will give closure and a sense of justice to the families of those that were bereaved as a result of that day and I know waiting for 38 years as they have and no one knows better than they the feeling of those many people who are still waiting for closure.

“Closure must mean closure. We have finished this chapter. We should close the book and we should move on as as a society and get the healing within our community that is so much needed.

” I think from a political point of view I have to say that I do not believe that there is anything to be gained by prosecutions at this stage and don’t believe that it would be possible to get the standard of evidence that would be necessary to secure a prosecution.”

When pressed to say what should be done to bring closure for those who lost loved ones in his own community Mr Robinson said:

“We can never go to the position where we are going to spend almost
£200m for each incident that occurred.
That would take us into many billions.

” I strongly believe the best way of dealing with the past is to have a public record where all of those who are victims are able to put on the record their story so that others who wish to research it can read it.

“I think there is a requirement from all paramilitaries to ‘fess up” and indicate the roles they have played and that in itself can give closure to many.”

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Comments (52)

  1. Alias (profile) says:

    He is taking his cue from the Prime Minister’s speech, wherein the State is to fail to hold itself to account for crimes of murder against its own citizens while passing that abject disgrace off to the gullible as ‘moving-on.’

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  2. Munsterview (profile) black spot says:

    I note that Peter Robinson as First Minister did not have any expressions of regret to spare for the relatives of the murdered victims. He did not have to break now ground, he could easily have associated himself with Cameron’s words.

    Could Peter not set his sectarian thinking aside for a few hours, if not a day and be the First Minister of all the people of Northern Ireland that he claims to be ?

    Unlike other deaths in the North, this stands alone and takes its place with Sharpville, Kent State and other such notorious State massacres of innocent protesting civilians.

    There is little point in highlighting sectarian divisions at the base of society when the First Minister at the top can so casually and indifferently display his partiality.

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  3. foyle observer (profile) says:

    I welcome what he has said.

    It is in stark contrast to how his colleague Campbell conducted himself yesterday.

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  4. Michael says:

    Call me a cynic, but I feel the reaction to the Saville enquiry by some unionist politicians can be explained better by self serving than by simple sectarianism.
    Gregory, or your old friend David Vance, with his blog headline ‘Cheeky Bleeders’, come across as simple taig haters.
    However for some others I think part of the problem is that once again unionist politicians are seen by some in their own support base as lagging behind the ‘pan-nationalist front’ in ‘extracting’ concessions/treats/pats on the head from the British.

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  5. Mr Crumlin (profile) says:

    Is a general amnesty now DUP policy? If it is thats a huge leap from their outrage when it was mooted by Eames Bradley. Maybe the realisation that it will be soldiers and RUC special branch that will be in the dock is beginning to dawn on this brand of unionism.

    Also a ‘public record’ and paramilitaries ‘fess up’ – isnt that another way of describing a truth commission – even if it is the cheaper version?

    Perhaps Eames Bradley wasn’t so bad afterall! But don’t tell Turgon!

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  6. articles (profile) says:

    Hello Mr mallie

    This is one complex character. About time you wrote a biography of Robinson; that you are not a pet journalist might serve you in good stead. The man is flawed, but he is also head and shoulders above his tribe. He might recognise that you recognise that. Get in there.

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  7. Johnny Boy says:

    Why do you expect Robinson to apologise for the actions of members of the British army when the Prime Minister has already apologised? His point about there probably not being evidence enough to get prosecutions is probably correct. He refers to “all paramilitaries” coming forward which seems to me to be impartial.

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  8. Ulster Is BRitish says:

    More nationalist MOPERy on this thread – bring back the paras

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  9. Michael says:

    More broken caps lock keys.
    Bring back F7.

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  10. vanhelsing (profile) says:

    PR ‘I sincerely hope that the result of that inquiry will give closure and a sense of justice to the families of those that were bereaved as a result of that day’

    I think that PR could have gone for poltical points scoring and choose not to; respecting the day. I think most Unionists recognise how important to many decent nationalists Savillle is {pr inc} but now we move on from it.

    PR ‘I think from a political point of view I have to say that I do not believe that there is anything to be gained by prosecutions at this stage’

    He is right – you go for getting pensioners into the dock and it will send out a different [and back facing message]. The truth of Saville is now out there and most people have embraced it. We need to continue to make forward progress on social and economic issues and let the past be the past…

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  11. Alias (profile) says:

    “Is a general amnesty now DUP policy?”

    It looks like it. But while it was dismissed as a ‘slippery slope’ fallacy at the time, it was pointed out by many (maybe even Turgon) that if you go down the road of expediently letting some culprits escapte justice because it serves your purpose to do so then you inevitably end up extending the franchise to virtually all culprits. And now you’re all in the moral sewer…

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  12. stewart1 (profile) says:

    If the Public Prosecution Service decide that British soldier witnesses provided evidence that was knowingly untrue, then they should be dealt with in the courts.

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  13. mick o kelly says:

    The Paras who knowingly gave false evidence should be prosecuted as they committed perjury to try to influence the outcome of a very prolonged and expensive inquiry.The soldiers who came forward and gave testimony in good faith should really be commended,it must have been a very difficult thing to do even though by doing so they got immunity from prosecution.Don’t forget innocent people,many of them teeneagers were shot down in cold blood,none of the victims or their families ever had any connections with any IRA groups.They were citizens of the UK and as such should have been afforded the full protection under the law as any other citizen of any other part of the UK. The lack of empathy from the Unionist community is shocking and does nothing to put this episode behind us towards a more normal civil society. Gregory Campbell as a Derry man needs to be a bit more gracious and understanding of the tremendous effect the Bloody Sunday massacre had on the Derry people,his reaction and statements are divisive,petty and contemptible.

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  14. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Mick,

    You should give Turgon’s latest a read. He, kind of, agrees with you…

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  15. Closing the book on Bloody Sunday (in terms of prosecutions) may be more likely than most people think (or maybe expect).
    There is a long and porous history here in terms of the legal ‘jurisdiction’. Evidence was provided to Widgery. And presumably also to civil authorities if Widgery was a distinct legal entity. Military investigations of Bloody Sunday (I assume) or at least some form of debrief, were undertaken by the Army. The coroner didn’t hold back in his verdict in 1973 although no charges arose from that (I think the inquest is the centre of gravity of all the legalities here). The legal status of Saville itself as an inquiry doesn’t seem clear to the NI prosecution service who have had to request clarification on the overall position (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/northern_ireland/10336366.stm).
    I’m guessing that since charges didn’t arise from the conclusions of the 1973 coroner’s inquest (where the verdict should have prompted prosecutions), there may be a technical problem in bringing charges now. Certainly there would be enough scope and wiggle room for a long tangled battle over the legalities. The failure to bring those charges or completing an adequate Test for Prosecution after the inquest may be grounds for the prosecution of some Mr X (for perverting the course of justice) which is probably more pertinent.
    If misleading evidence is believed to have been given to Widgery, the coroner or Saville, it (i.e. perjury) may be more likely grounds for prosecution.
    Whether civil cases (or even courts martial) arise is a different matter.

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  16. midulsterunionist (profile) says:

    To me it looks like peter the punt said

    “Right we did the inquiry now get over it and stop whinging”

    seriously read it and tell me that doesn’t sum up his sentiments… sure flower it up abit and act nicey nicey but make no mistake thats the message in robbos speech

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  17. EPL1970 says:

    There is no doubt that at his moment PR is as has already been said in this thread, ‘head and shoulders’ above those around him.
    I had my doubts during the year, but no longer.

    In stark contrast David Vance on twitter said :

    “Is anyone of a Unionist non-Provo mindset allowed to comment on the Saville Report?
    Also , I thought Jimmy Saville had retired?”

    I find his remarks to be of the utmost degree of insensitivity.
    At a time when the families and others need space to contemplate what has been presented to them, this TUV rep chooses to let fly with this diabolical remark.

    SHAME.

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  18. The Raven says:

    ….Peter who…?

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  19. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    I suspect you are just too shallow to get what he’s really at MUU. [Yellow Card Mick - play the ball and not the man - Mods] ;-)

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  20. midulsterunionist (profile) says:

    So what is he actually saying mick…sum his statement up in 50 words or less

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  21. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    The proposition: “Park it, document the tragedies as best we can – or at least to the extent people caught up in the whole nasty and very bloody mess can commit to doing so. In the meantime, let us (all of us, not just us Prods) move on.”

    Comment: That’s a risky proposition, but I suspect it is based on the calculation that most paramilitaries (and that includes Loyalist alongside Republican organisations) will be reluctant to do so if there is little promise of a zero sum outcome loaded solely in their direction, as has been the custom heretofore.

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  22. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Yes, of course. But Eames Bradley cost a small fortune to put into action and would have cost another to impliment (10-15k is roughly what they to paid soldiers’ families in 1972 for their initial loss – just to put that paltry 12k into some kind of modern perspective). Cost is loaded back on to ‘the perps’ rather than the taxpayers so to speak. It’s also sounds commendably ‘bottom up’ as opposed to the kind of top down nonsense that’s brought us to this singular pass.

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  23. joeCanuck says:

    Robinson’ response was as it should have been for a Leader. He should be commended for it. It’s a pity that some of his colleagues were not so gracious.

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  24. Munsterview (profile) black spot says:

    If this is Peter being ‘ gracious ‘ heaven help us if he turns surly!

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  25. awkward (profile) says:

    “Moving on as a society” is either naieve or sanctimonious sentiment.

    Saville may have given Justice a chance to flex its muscles a bit. I am glad that the victims got the outcome.

    But, from a democracy not a society point of view, can anyone tell me Cui Bono (From Bloody Sunday) ?

    Or do you think that no one gained whilst many suffered ?

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  26. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Robinson’s comments hinting at truth/reconciliation require more pondering.

    But to accept the Saville report is a brave and refreshing perspective after listening to a couple of days of Gregory Campbell’s bile. Acceptance that the soldiers were wrong to shoot those who died is the important thing. As Joe Canuck has said, this is good leadership.

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  27. Cynic says:

    …and what about Martin?

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  28. [...] people, all with their own agendas, can be relied on to get it right.”Interesting idea. And one not entirely incompatible with that which Peter Robinson shared with Eamonn Mallie last night… Tags: Bloody Sunday, judicial process, Saville, statute of limitations, Widgery [...]

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  29. midulsterunionist (profile) says:

    I should have known 50 words was too much to give you :)

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  30. midulsterunionist (profile) says:

    Boyne Water just tweeted this on twitter (where else would anyone tweet?):
    “Robinson can say these things *because* of the other comments by DUP folk. It’s the old hard cop/soft cop approach.”

    It’s got Mallie wound up a little… but I have to say I agree with Boyne Water

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  31. vanhelsing (profile) says:

    Just don’t think that opening up more wounds heals us as a society. There are any number of wounds on both sides of the community and following that course of action is backward thinking…

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  32. Munsterview (profile) black spot says:

    David Cameron apologized, no if, but or and.

    All on these Islands and those watching the International Video News clips see for themselves how the murdered innocent victims families gathered in Derry greeted that apology!

    Peter Robinson left yet another outreach opportunity pass him by. Whether this was from lack of appreciation of Catholic sensibilities, indifference, or cowardice in the face of giving hostages to the TUV do not really matter, it will be seen as a continuation of the attitude of Unionism towards Irish Nationalism.

    This manifested right through the negotiations that led to the Good Friday agreement and the shelling out off this afterwards until forced into government with Sinn Fein as a last resort and on minimum terms when all goodwill and optimism was totally negated by the actions of Unionism.

    Peter Robinson could have easily have quoted David Cameron’s statement made as British Prime Minister and associated himself with it. He did not, he gave a minimumilistic, formalistic response that will be seen, not as he being politic, but indicative of true Unionist majority feelings.

    Not surprising that there should be so much empathy and sympathy for the Israeli cause as manifested in the abundance of Star Of David Flags, like them irrespective of what the State atrocity is they are always the ones that were first provoked and they are the ones always the ones wallowing in perpetual victimhood.

    Ken McGuniess was no different, Gregory Cambells attitude was consistent accross Unionism, all that varied was the degree of sophistication in the way that view was articulated and this is how it will be seen in the analysis of Catholic, Nationalist and Republican Ireland.

    The murdered victim’s families had to wait over three decades for vindication : they finally got it from London.

    Likewise once again for Catholics with long memories and a sense of history nothing has changed in this Island since the Treaty Of Limerick was signed over three centuries ago following the wars of 1690; if there is any prospect of getting Native Irish rights vindicated or any measure of justice metered out, meager as it may be, bypass The Planter Assembly and Petition the English Government directly!.

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  33. apollo293867 (profile) says:

    I think Peter Robinson’s contribution was certainly the best of the responses from leading Unionists. Sadly the home page of the DUP website is running a Youtube clip of Gregory Campbell.

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  34. [...] if any criminal investigations and/or prosecutions will take place over events on the day.The DUP’s Peter Robinson has called for no prosecutions I think from a political point of view I have to say that I do not believe that there is anything to [...]

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  35. Fathomline says:

    Some questions for our legal eagles. Can anyone tell me the actual verdict(s) of the inquests? All I can find is the coroner’s ‘pure unadulterated murder’ statement but does that stand as an actual verdict? And is there not a case for re-opening the inquests now since Saville has produced a lot more evidence? Surely that is where a finding of unlawful killing would be more likely.

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  36. Neil (profile) says:

    I’ll tack a question on there too if you don’t mind. Is it not the case that the soldiers who gave evidence to Saville cannot be pursued for their actions, only for a charge of perjury should they have been judged to be telling porkies?

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  37. Mark McGregor says:

    Neil,

    The soldiers were immune from self-incrimination, not prosecution.

    I don’t think any incriminated themselves either so the entirity of Saville could be considered in a criminal review.

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  38. Nunoftheabove (profile) says:

    Predictable noise from the political failure Vance and the reactionary detritus of the TUV who appear to know no shame.

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  39. Munsterview (profile) black spot says:

    Because Johnny Boy he is First Minister of The Six Counties as a whole.

    This report is a watershed effecting the majority of the population of the second biggest city in his region; he could not ignore it, what he could have done is step out from partisan politics for one day and show that community that he was the man of feeling that he tried to project himself as in his own recent domestic ordeal.

    Martin would have done it had the circumstances been reversed. Another wasted opportunity and seen to be just that by the non Unionist community in the rest of ireland!

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  40. vanhelsing (profile) says:

    ‘Under the rules of the inquiry the soldiers were granted immunity from prosecutions resulting from their evidence, but they could be prosecuted for perjury’

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/15/bloodysunday-northernireland

    In other words they cannot be prosecuted for any evidence they presented to the inquiry.

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  41. jim says:

    him n wee marty will have a wee chuckle in the office.SUCH IS LIFE

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  42. jim says:

    maybe he should lead by example.the red beret and all that the weapons the ulster rsistance had are still hid about the place

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  43. According to The Times of 22 Aug 1973, open verdicts were returned on all those killed. The jury could only return verdicts of natural causes, suicide, accident, judicial execution or an open verdict. The last option implies either manslaughter (justified or otherwise) or murder. Presumably it is the prosecution service who determine how to proceed.
    I think this is the significant area of the Bloody Sunday killings that was largely unexamined.

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  44. jim says:

    there is no mention of murder in saville.FACT

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  45. I’ve a copy of the article on the coroner’s inquest, so I posted it up here: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_4F8m_M5_fcw/TBqv4dtZ-HI/AAAAAAAAAFE/0N9m28uPbfg/s1600/BS_Coroner_Times_2281973.JPG

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  46. Alias (profile) says:

    “In other words they cannot be prosecuted for any evidence they presented to the inquiry.” – vanhelsing

    Contrary to the myth (or what the Guardian tells you), none of the witnesses at Saville were granted immunity from prosecution. However, all witnesses have the privilege in law against self-incrimination in their evidence; and although Saville was an inquiry and not a trial, its witnesses enjoy the same privileges that would be afforded to witnesses in a trial.

    They have no immunity from prosecution for perjury or for evidence submitted by others. Since none of the culprits confessed and most gave false evidence, none of their evidence would likely have been useful for the purpose of prosecuting them anyway.

    There is more than enough evidence to put murderers behind bars for the remaider of their lives, and that is where the State should duly put them.

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  47. Alias (profile) says:

    True, because its purpose is to establish the truth, not to establish guilt. That is the function of a Court, and not a Tribunal.

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  48. Alias (profile) says:

    Just to clarify – in case it is unclear – that their evidence can be used against them in a subsequent trial. The protection against self-incrimination simply means that they don’t have to say anything that incriminates them (obviously) and not that anything they do say will not be used against them.

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  49. awkward (profile) says:

    In my opinion a statute of limitations for past injustices would be a very dangerous thing.

    There was a sudden death one week before Bloody Sunday. Suicide verdict in 1972. Baroness Howells of St Davids, for example, on hearing some of the details said ” What police did to cover up this matter was far far far worse than anything Met did in the Stephen Lawrence case”.

    With new evidence in the 1990s I attempted to quash the 1972 verdict. A tory minister (a barrister) acted free to apply to Attorney General for permission to access High Court. In the MP/Minister opinion the sudden death case is potentially the most important police constitutional case since 1829 and the most important test for Christianity in 2000 years !

    Govt involvement in the death is arguable. But govt involvement in the stitch up of the inquest and the consequent indifference to Commons questions, ministerial inquiries and overseas govt requests to hold a second inquest (in 1972) is in the new evidence. So Govt agency is in the mix (MI5 Special Branch liaison and interception of correspondence between MPs and ministers and Attorney General)

    To the family and the friends of the deceased the inquiry and inquest are an injustice.

    But when the MP barrister examined it and when Baroness Howells was told some of the details the importance for the nation was recognised by each.

    I posed a question above “Cui bono” from the atrocity of Bloody Sunday ?

    If I put a fox amongst yer chickens I don’t object at all if you try to hold Fox alone responsible and I would fully embrace the idea Foxy should enjoy a Statute of Limitations.

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  50. Ardmhacha says:

    what about cavan, monaghan and donegal?

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  51. vanhelsing (profile) says:

    You’re right on the legal point, although wrong on your final sentence.

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  52. [...] struggling to be heard. Surprisingly these voices are two of the most senior figures in the DUP. Peter Robinson has stated “we should close the book and we should move on as as a society and get the healing within our [...]

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