Understanding Bloody Sunday: Is it time to teach CAIN?

The debates around the forthcoming publication of the Saville findings raise an old complaint: that focusing on individual incidents in the Troubles distorts our overall understanding of what happened. Is it time we all got a bit more statistically literate – what about making the study of the CAIN stats compulsory in schools?

Debates about the Troubles – and many historical accounts of the period – are notable for a surprising absence of reference to records of what did actually happen, in terms of the core of what the Troubles consisted of: deaths, beatings, bombings, shooting incidents. That a lot of this information is publicly available makes the omission all the more surprising. True, not everything is recorded, of course. But every single death in the Troubles has been logged and tabulated and is freely available on the CAIN website.

So why are they so infrequently cited in our discourses? I can’t see how we can start to form a view of the Troubles without being intimately familiar with the stats we have available. Now, as a qualitative researcher myself, I need no convincing of the limitations of statistics: my day job is all about filling in the gaps in statistics, the things tables can’t tell you. But every qualitative researcher will readily admit that the colourful human stories that we write about are not the full picture. Our clients read them alongside ‘hard’ data – the numbers and big patterns – to get a full understanding of events.

So here’s one for starters from the Index of Deaths, since Bloody Sunday is about to be discussed again. The deaths, by organisation responsible, in the Troubles up until the end of 1971 (Bloody Sunday was of course in January 1972) are:

British security forces – 60
Loyalist paramilitary – 26
Not Known – 9
Republican paramilitary – 118

So Republicans did around 55 per cent of the killing up to the end of 1971; the proportion over the whole course of the Troubles (taking 1998 as the end year) is 59 per cent. The more remarkable shift as the Troubles went on was the falling proportion of deaths attributable to the security forces: 28 per cent at the end of 1971, but by the end of the Troubles, down to the 10-11 per cent figure we are all familiar with.

Figures like this should be at the heart of any account of the Troubles and its legacy. Everyone in Northern Ireland should have the rough percentage breakdown for responsibility for deaths of 10 / 30 / 60 (security forces / Loyalists / Republicans) in their heads before they say anything about the rights and wrongs of 1969-1998.

It’s  starting point of course – statistics do not give you answers, but they have to be part of the process of working them out. Otherwise, generations will continue to grow up with their history skewed by the power of iconic incidents like Bloody Sunday. It’s not that it isn’t important – it was and is – it’s just that lots of other important things also happened.

Born in Belfast, 1969.
Worked in qualitative market and social research for 16 years and was until recently a research director at a leading UK research agency. Now working freelance.
Formerly qualified and worked as a lawyer for several years in the 90s, having done a degree in Jurisprudence at Oxford University.
Married and living in the UK, with two children.

  • meh

    What we will never know exactly is how many of the “118” attributed Republican deaths was in fact the British state or it’s hidden hand.. McGurks bar anyone? besides I think this is quite possibly the most tasteless thread eva!

  • “absence of reference to records”

    CAIN carries a lot of records pertaining to the Northern Ireland conflict but it refused to publish this record, a document which sheds some light on the secret relationship that exists between the UK and Ireland governments.

  • Mainland Ulsterman,
    An interesting thread but the above comment by meh illustrates the problem. The simple fact that 60% of the deaths were caused by the republicans is minimised by claims that assorted crimes which the IRA would not admit to were not performed by them.

    Hence, we enter into a perverse fantasy world in which Darkley and Kingsmills were not committed by the IRA; that fantasy continues until some try to claim they were performed by the army. The Sutton index colludes with at least the beginnings of that fantasy by reporting that the Catholic Reaction Force or some other such performed the Kingsmills murders.

    Furthermore Sutton displays significant weasel wordedness and a degree of bias. As an example in the reference to the Claudy and La Mon bombs it states that an inadequate warning was given. This colludes in the myth that those actions were something not quite as simple as cold blooded murder but at some level a mistake: a position that few even amongst republican cheerleaders try to advance.

    Additional problems with Sutton include that it regards police officers as not civilians. Police officers are civilians, not that kiling soldiers was acceptable, but this untruth further moves towards the republican line that it was a war when one lumps police officers as somehow combatants rather than people walking the beat and directing traffic, arresting burgulars, rapists etc. Indeed Sutton even makes retired police officers and members of the Garda non civilians.

    Sutton also avoids any mention of punishment attacks, intimidation etc. etc.

    Sutton has its uses but its biases are pretty self evident and demonstrate at least some truth to the Lies, damned lies and statistics comments.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Hmmm. I would be interested to hear an alternative set of stats then, as I’m sure would the folk at CAIN. Individual incidents aside, are you contesting that Republicans killed about 60 per cent overall? And do you disagree with talking about the Troubles in terms of the overall death tolls and numbers as well as talking about particular incidents? That was my main point. I suspect Republicans don’t talk much about the proportion of the Troubles they were responsible for – as it blasts a rather large hole through their self-justifications. Likewise, Loyalists may be shocked to look back and see that in 1975 for example, they killed more people than Republicans did. Though not again until 1992.
    Thanks will look at your link in a minute. But what about the main point about giving CAIN to all schoolkids to look at and think about?
    Some fair points there and people could have interesting debates about statistical methodology. I’m not advocating making this another area in which Unionists and Nationalists can slug it out, but using some broadly agreed, independently derived data as a starting point for debates about the ‘big picture’ of what happened in the Troubles. Getting down to individual incidents is important, but not what I’m pushing here.

  • Dec

    “Hence, we enter into a perverse fantasy world in which Darkley and Kingsmills were not committed by the IRA; ”

    I’m pretty sure Darkley was carried out by the INLA using a covername.

    But meh’s point stands – should the Dublin & Monaghan bombings be attributed to loyalists or the ‘Security Forces’? Plus, why start at 1969 and not 1966 when Gusty Spence’s UVF was murdering catholics? What if 20% of Republican killings were carried out/ordered by British agents – how does that affect the central thesis (themmuns killed more than thoseuns so it’s mostly themmuns’ fault.)?

    Not that I expected anything too balanced or substantial from someone who calls himself ‘Mainland Ulsterman’.

  • Peter Fyfe

    This thread seems much more like trying to justify bloody Sunday rather than understand it. We have very little talk of bloody Sunday in it but the percentage of killings we can contribute to different groupings up to 1998 seems to take up most of it. How exactly does any killing in 1994 help us understand what happened on bloody Sunday?

    Go with Justifying Bloody Sunday next time, people won’t be disappointed then.

    One statistic I notice is the 28% of deaths attributed to security forces up until the end of 1971. After killing so many, why send in one of the least tame regiments of the British Security forces to Derry that day? Maybe Mystic Meg had told their commanders it would be okay because by 1998 the statistics will show republicans were the bad people.

  • Ardmhacha

    If your going to draw up a league table of the number of people killed by each group could you also add in the number of attacks which caused fatalities?, as in did republicans kill more because they usually planned large scale bombs which killed many in a single attack.
    where as other groups carried out more attacks but killed single targets?

    Anyway, its a stupid road to go down, there will be nothing to gain from this debate.

  • Nuance

    Peter Fyfe,

    While I get that you can read that into Mainland Ulsterman’s original post, and certainly it seems to be the most natural conclusion of it, I think you’ve failed to listen to the central point of the piece – that is that assessing individual situations should be done in context. Statistics are one tool in measuring context – though not the only one – and to that end they’re useful and there is a valid point being made.

    Bloody Sunday, looked at in isolation, is one thing. Taken in the context of the situation at the time, and considered in the light of the countless atrocities since, it is something slightly different. I know there is a temptation to make absolutely every single argument into an apology for one side or the other here, but just occasionally it’s useful for us to stop assigning people’s views to one side of the tribal division or the other long enough to consider the merits of their argument on its own. There is a lot of thinking that urges a more sophisticated analysis of the Troubles, but, depending on which of the simplified, politicised or occasionally romanticised narratives you’re contesting at a given moment, you are instantly dismissed as a loyalist/unionist/republican/nationalist sympathiser.

    I think we’d all do well to stop and recognise the merit in challenging received wisdom for its own sake; and this is the first generation of thinking with sufficient distance to be able to start doing this. It does require that people stop insisting on painting the world as black and white. You don’t have to be either black or white to say something valuable about what happened here.-

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Very interesting responses, though not perhaps in the way the posters intended them.

    I put this one out there partly because of a commitment to basing views in hard facts – what could be wrong with having a more evidentially-based debate – and partly to see how people would respond to the same.

    My suggestion was simply that when teaching the Troubles it would be a good idea to look at the whole set of data on what happened. Is that really controversial? In particular, in what sense is it a “stupid road to go down”?

    The intention was not to have debate about who killed who – with a few exceptions such as those cited, most of that is fairly well established. The point was to encourage a more holistic less anecdotal approach to looking at the overall picture of Troubles
    history. I am yet to read a good argument against this, but let’s see.

    And Dec: In keeping with the World Cup so far, you missed the ball completely and played the man there! I am a quite literally an Ulsterman who quite literally now lives on the British mainland, hence Mainland Ulsterman. Nothing innately insubstantial or unbalanced – or indeed unusual – about that …?

  • Argosjohn

    Mainland Ulsterman: I presume the mainland bit means you have relocated to your (ancestral) homeland.

    In any “war”, some events are seminal. Blooody Sunday, like the Para murders preceding it, was a deliberate attempt by the occupation government and lits local lackeys to ratchet up things. It spelt the end of NICRA (whose demands were opposeed by the bomb and the bullet by “Ulstermen”) and it drove droves into the ranks of PIRA.

    [text removed – play the ball, not the man -mods] your political outlook sucks. It is regressive and reactionary. Bloody Sunday is your gift to the world.

    Some other Unionist here has mentioned Kingsmills, Darkely etc. Besides making ye sound like Keving Myers, these executions put a hold on the sectarian murders of catholics, which was part of the Unionist game plan from the very beginning.

    As regards Frizells fish and chip shop, that was done because of the same Johnny Adair/FRU tactics. Witness the sponging shipyard workers who protested about that but not about the masses of Catholic killings preceding it. That is why the Frizell’s IRA volunteer got such a big send off.

  • Mick Fealty


    Keep talking to other commenters like that, and you’ll be on a Yellow. This place is for talking politics, not swapping insults.

  • motomaba

    The argument presented in this article lumps everybody in one camp or the other – there are a multitude of people on the ‘nationalist’ side who simple seek the truth regarding why 14 innocent people (many of whom were 17!) were shot to death by the british army. These same people may not support the IRA nor are they interested in making whataboutery arguments or such claims.

    Your basically saying that the fact that the IRA went on to kill ‘many more people’ then this somehow invalidates the significance of such state killings? Or that is should be placed into some sort of context to take the edge off.

    Again, those killed on Bloody Sunday had nothing to do with any paramilitary orgainisations. It was wrong and illegal and should never have happened.

    Your whole article is subtle whataboutery which is pretty offensive to the vast majority of nationalists who think murder is wrong and have never had anything to do with any organisation.

    Can you not just say “that shouldn’t have happened” without going on to say “but…”

  • Dec

    “My suggestion was simply that when teaching the Troubles it would be a good idea to look at the whole set of data on what happened.”

    Given that the data you present is skewed, that’s fairly pointless. Your central tenet, that the final (innacurate)statistics, are as important as the root cause(s) and key developments is pretty moot, to say the least.

    ” In keeping with the World Cup so far, you missed the ball completely and played the man there!”

    Hardly. If the thread had been written by someone calling themselves ‘Six Counties Irishman’, I’m sure Unionists would have suspicions about balance.

  • Battle of the Bogside


    You never answered my request to write an essay on Derry. How about ‘Bloody Sunday; the truth according to Saville’?

    Is it not time you give republicans a say on our collective history?

  • Mick Fealty

    Not a problem. Can you get the copy to me by tomorrow lunch time? editor@sluggerotoole.com Preferably no more than 600 words…

  • Battle of the Bogside

    Your time line is impossible as I will have to summarise 5000 pages that will not be released until tomorrow afternoon.

    Be realistic or do what you did when I first made a request, ignore me.

    I hope you will read the Saville report and give a balanced view on it.

    Somehow, balanced and posts on ‘Slugger O’Toole’ are something that do not go together!

  • Blue Hammer

    I just don’t believe you that none of the 14 were involved in violence. A friend whose witness i trust confirmed to me that at least one of the dead was shot carrying/throwing nail bombs and £193m of Savillery won’t change my mind on that.

    If you don’t want shot by the paras, don’t throw bombs at them, or preferably don’t go on an illegal march and then let it degenerate into a riot. You reap what you sow.

  • motomaba

    “You reap what you sow.”

    A harsh and spine chilling reply if I don’t say so myself.

    “£193m of Savillery won’t change my mind on that.”

    If Saville indeed reports on facts I would like to think that a fact would have the ability to change your conclusion – I doubt this however as you appear to have already made your mind up.

    We shall just have to wait until tomorrow then. I think given the time, expense and sheer level of detail that is contained within the report everything shall be revealed and its conclusions should be respected.

  • motomaba


    “don’t go on an illegal march”

    In a democratic society people should be allowed to march in the cause of civil rights surely?

    Its funny that such a march is ‘illegal’ yet when other organisations want to march anywhere they wish it is a human right all of a sudden.

    I’m seriously dissapointed in your reply

  • kevin moran

    Be serious Mr F! Is there not something in the slugger constitution about feeding trolls? What must it say about preparing them a banquet?

  • Mick Fealty

    Okay, pick your own time, and deliver when you can. I can tell you now that I won’t be reading it all. I don’t have the time.

    I have been asked to write on it for tomorrow, but for me the most useful thing to reflect on is the context in which both event itself and the subsequent inquiry have taken place in.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Are you sure you are talking about the original article here? Once again, the only point was to champion looking at Troubles statistics. That isn’t taking sides, it’s championing evidence-based discussion. And I wasn’t accusing anyone of supporting the IRA – not sure where that came from. I was hoping for a discussion about qualitative vs quantitative research approaches to understanding past events. The stats are of course awkward reading for Republicans but not for peaceful nationalists.
    In terms of my ancestors, most of them are African. As to my political outlook, I’m not sure what you think it is. I was merely arguing for the contextualisation of the major events of the Troubles, to reach a more nuanced understanding of the overall story.

  • Battle of the Bogside

    Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Lies, damned lies and government statistics’. Of course the stats will be in favour of the Brits and will show republicans to be the big bad wolf!

  • Argosjohn has already had some of his post removed so it is unclear what else s/he said. However, to describe the Kingsmills and Darkley murders as executions and seek to justify them as s/he has done along with the Shankill Fish Shop murders is utterly perverse.

    Along with such a diatribe to describe anyone else as regressive and reactionary is simply amazing. It reads like something the Khmer Rouge would have come up with.

  • Dec

    “a friend whose witness i trust confirmed to me that at least one of the dead was shot carrying/throwing nail bombs and £193m of Savillery won’t change my mind on that.”

    Hopefully he submitted his testimony to the enquiry.

  • Dec

    “The stats are of course awkward reading for Republicans but not for peaceful nationalists.”

    I think they’re awkward reading for all of the active participants unless of course you think any kill rate under 50% is a not much to worry about.

  • Peter Fyfe

    It is that in the context that he has presented the marchers on bloody Sunday and violent republicanism as one with his study of the statistics I do not agree with. The thread may be better named ‘Understanding the Troubles’ than ‘understanding bloody Sunday’.

    Who actually advocates the teaching of the events on Bloody Sunday outside the wider context of the troubles as a whole? I have never been presented with such a disconnect when examining the subject. I do have a problem with the argument that bloody Sunday was bad but the IRA were worse because it equates those marchers with the IRA.

  • willis

    “Is it time we all got a bit more statistically literate – what about making the study of the CAIN stats compulsory in schools?”

    What does statistically literate mean? Allocating a value of 1 unit per death and balancing the deaths up to arrive at a conclusion about which side was right or wrong?

    “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.”
    Stalin (missattrib)

    “Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.”

    The whole concept of an overall tally is flawed.

    Why not just look at 1969? After all that may give us a clue as to the origins of the Conflict.


    Total 16

    Killed by RUC – 7
    Killed by USC – 1
    Killed by British Army – 2
    Killed by UVF – 1 (UVF member accidentally killed himself)
    Killed by Non specific Loyalist – 2

    Killed by Non specific Republican – 3

    It paints a very different statistical picture, do you not agree?

  • Blue Hammer

    indeed he did, but i’m sure the provo propaganda machine of the other “witnesses” will be used to drown out his truth.

  • motomaba

    Mainland Ulsterman:

    Yes I’m pretty sure I’m talking about the same article.

    Your article was about “Understanding Bloody Sunday” was it not, and it was yourself who decided it was an appropriate place to quote:

    “Republican paramilitary – 118” (presumably IRA you were talking about)

    ..in some sort of ‘we should step back a bit and look at the score card’ mentality.

    My point here is that once again when the specific debate of the murder of innocent people (tbc tomorrow) is discussed: automatically the kill score of republicans is thrown in. Similarly if the murder or unionists is ever discussed I would not think it appropriate to bring the ‘other sides’ kill score in to the discussed. It’s simply not the time or the place.

    There is a slight insensitivity to the families of those killed who have had nothing to do with anything continually being married to paramilitarism in the same accusation, the same sentence or in your case the same article.

    This mentality was highlighted perfectly by ‘Blue Hammer’ up there who pretty much said what happened to those poor people was well deserved.

    In many respects its not so much what you’re saying, it’s the time and context in which you have chosen to bring this up.

    My point here is that once again when the specific debate of the murder of innocent people (tbc) is discussed automatically the the kill score of republicans is thrown in.

    There is a slight insensitivity to

  • Hedley Lamarr

    To be accurate Darkley was carried out by the INLA.

  • motomaba

    P.S. apoligies for the mis-cut & pasting of the last three sentences of my last post!

  • jim

    5000 pages of waffle catch yerself on.theres more important things going on like the world cup

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I did entitle it Understanding Bloody Sunday, for a couple of reasons:
    – Bloody Sunday is part of the Troubles and part of the discourse around the Troubles generally – the subject of my main point
    – it is one of those events in the Troubles which, through no fault of the victims, has been taken as symbolic of the Troubles as a whole. And my point was that the way this event has entered the culture highlights the dangers of selective historicising and of ignoring overall patterns (as revealed in statistics and other ‘big picture’ data).

    When one raises the issue of death tolls, you always get accused of treating people like numbers, tallying up etc. But if you don’t look at that, how are you able to understand what happened in the round? Unless you have a brain like Stephen Hawking, you need to use numbers to some extent to get a sense of perspective on events.

    So I raised the figures for the Troubles up to 1971 to provoke some debate – and sorry if any offence was taken. But the idea was to show (1) sources like CAIN may show something different than the picture usually presented; and (2) it gives the lie to the implication that Republicans were mainly on the receiving end before Bloody Sunday – clearly they were already WAY more sinning than sinned against, even before that. They just got even worse afterwards.

    The problem is with lazy journalists and self-interested politicians, certainly not the victims – quite the opposite.

  • jim

    as martin the BRITISH MINISTER once said.the only place their going is HOME

  • motomaba

    “it gives the lie to the implication that Republicans were mainly on the receiving end before Bloody Sunday – clearly they were already WAY more sinning than sinned against, even before that”

    Way more sinning than sinned against? Again what has the sins and sinning against of republicans (paramilitaries) got to do with Bloody Sunday?

    Why is this being discussed now?

    For arguements sake when does the ‘Sinned and Sinned Against’ arguement start and stop? 1800? 1600? 1969? etc etc, I think most people in NI know that the snapshot arguement goes off into infinity.

    The dichotomy here, If i’m to understand correctly:
    you wish for people to look at Bloody Sunday in the entirety of the troubles for a broad view – whilst at the same time you want people to know that republicans had ‘WAY’more kills at that specific point in time.

  • motomaba

    Jim and Battle of the Bogside,

    will the two of you get a grip and grow up!

  • Mick Fealty


    BotB has been put into the spam filter until I can work out what to do with him. And I think you should read jim more carefully.

  • Dec

    ‘the provo propaganda machine of the other “witnesses”’

    Ah yes, there we have it.

  • Hedley Lamarr

    It would be useful to have a collection of stories from victims like the BBC’s Legacy CD and book collection to be taught together with an explanation of the statistics.

    Each of the victim’s stories is so vast and significant that statistics cloud the reality.

    But statistics coupled with real stories from the mouths and pens of people affected would be a powerful tool.

    Perhaps both CAIN and Bew and Gillespie’s ‘Chronology of the Troubles’ could be used together with the stories? Then the numbers could be put into perspective.

  • ulster scot

    Before tommorrows deluge – one simple thought – there were two “Bloddy Sundays” in the modern so called “troubles” – the 2nd was a Sunday in Enniskillen when 12 people were killed and nearly 60 injured ,a 13th victim Mr Hill spent 13 years in a coma.The bomb was assembled in Co Leitrim by 3 IRA units,an estimated 30 personel took part ( another 4 times bigger bomb was set/defused in Tullyhommon,targetting boys brigade and girl guides – if it had exploded 60 protestant children would have been slaughtered and full scale civil war would have resulted – the Provos objective).No enquiry lasting 12 years into these eventss,propably less than £500k on police enquiries ,compared to nearly £200m in Londonderry.No convictions,no one held to account – simply nothing .BUT the victims were British Unionists not Irish Nationalists – thats the Ireland of Equals for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I for one would welcome an enquiry in to the 2nd Bloody Sunday – can think of many witnesses that could be called including ROI government officials(allowing attacks to be initiated from their state),Fianna Fail party officers (setting up and funding the Provos) and the 30 provos “warriors” themselves( well known to Police both sides of the border).BUT NOT A SINGLE CALL IN 23 YEARS FOR AN ENQUIRY FROM THE NATIONALIST EQUALITY LOVERS

  • Hedley Lamarr

    Apologies- my last reply jumped up the post order unintentionally.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    “Way more sinning than sinned against? Again what has the sins and sinning against of republicans (paramilitaries) got to do with Bloody Sunday?
    Why is this being discussed now?”
    Yes, way more sinning than sinned against. Which is why the attempts by some Republicans to use Bloody Sunday to suggest some wider sense of Republican victimhood is pernicious and self-serving.

    Several reasons why the sins of Republican paramilitaries may be germane to Bloody Sunday and discussed now:
    – Bloody Sunday has been used by them to justify subsequent killing
    – like it or not, Republicans are now the most voted for party among nationalists and their portrayal of Bloody Sunday is therefore significant to how Northern Ireland as a whole understands the Troubles as a whole. If they are getting it wrong, it should be challenged.
    – with the Saville report coming out tomorrow, it prompted thoughts about how the Troubles as a whole are understood and portrayed. If the posts I read here are anything to go by, some Republicans seem to struggle with the concept of even looking at data about the Troubles, let alone actually interpreting and debating it.

    Less emotion and more reason please is all I’m saying, from all sides. Then reconciliation would soon look perfectly possible. But let’s not be scared of the truth. The truth from Saville will be tough for me to read, as someone who has strong respect for the Army – but I want to know it anyway.

  • Alias

    Saville will put it in 5,500 pages of context but that’s more context than any of us are actually interested in. I’d be very surprised if more than a few hundred read the report outside of a professional capacity.

  • TheHorse

    Interesting Analysis of dubious figures now that some exposing truths have been revealed. Any deaths attributed to loyalists or British would likely be flawed now that we know the true extent of collusion between the Loyalists and elements of the British establishment. Are the UDR classed as British or Loyalist as for cold blooded murders Turgon, is there a difference between blowing people up or shooting them, is it any more cold blooded than torturing people by slicing them with knives, or beating them with baseball bats with six inch nails hammered through then slitting their throats. We are all victims of a horrible, dirty war, bad things were committed by people from all sides, but there is no tier of who was righteous or victimhood.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Hedley Lamarr,
    I am a fan of Blazing Saddles (does Mel Brooks’s character in it remind you of George W Bush?) and thanks for engaging with my actual point! A lot of the other comments seemed to be suggesting a discomfort with statistics without actually giving good reasons why they should not be used more.
    I also agree that cold statistics give only part of the story. Your suggestion of combining Bew and Gillespie’s work with the tabulations from CAIN is very sensible. I am qually researcher to the core, I find myself in unusual territory here standing up for the other side of the profession! Newsnight about to start on Bloody Sunday, I’m off …

  • Hedley Lamarr

    To tell you the truth- William J. Le Petomane reminds me in different ways of Clinton and Reagan as well as Bush. Oval Office and all that!

  • Drumlin Rock

    Mick think he should be on a red card with that.

  • motomaba

    Mainland Ulsterman:

    “But let’s not be scared of the truth. The truth from Saville will be tough for me to read, as someone who has strong respect for the Army”

    Thats fair enough.

    I don’t think unionists need to fear the publication of Saville – its definately not about any justification for the horrific violence or murders suffered by unionist people, because there can never and should never be a whitewash of those tradegies either.

    I dont think nationalists would ever stand for the report to be used in that way.

  • Drumlin Rock

    He is honestly expressing the Republican viewpoint, it hasn’t changed, vile and disgusting as it is. Unless they can demonstrate otherwise.

  • Mick Fealty


    My first instinct when I first saw the piece was to ask whether the reference to CAIN was deliberately biblical. There could be an interesting literary motif in how this story has been told as “the mark of Cain’…

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Yes I wondered myself how deliberate the naming of CAIN was, whoever came up with the acronym – it is quite fitting, isn’t it? But I’m afraid I wasn’t making a (not so) clever Biblical reference myself there. I was brought up in a godless household, for my sins, God help me …

  • Scamallach

    Mainland Ulsterman,

    Yes, the British state was responsible for less deaths than Republican paramilitaries throughout the Troubles. But do you not agree that any state must have a greater degree of accountability than a terrorist organisation?!?

  • vanhelsing

    BOTB – read over your last few posts on Bloody Sunday and tell me how balanced you’ve been?

    I would love to read your ‘balanced analysis’ of BS:)

  • Dev

    I’m sure they do teach the CAIN statistics in schools, in fact you’d probably be expected to pepper any essay you had to write on the the Troubles with such stats.

    “Everyone in Northern Ireland should have the rough percentage breakdown for responsibility for deaths of 10 / 30 / 60 (security forces / Loyalists / Republicans) in their heads before they say anything about the rights and wrongs of 1969-1998”

    Well why? Are you saying that the security forces are 10% morally culpable for what went on, Loyalists 30% & Republicans 60%? Don’t you think this may be seen as equating a rough apportionment of the violence throughout a 30 yr period to specific events that happening during the beginning? I mean is the conclusion that Republicans were 60% responsible for what happened on Bloody Sunday but the army who did all (or most) of the shooting are only responsbile for 30%? Why is it not posssible to say ‘event X is was wrong’ without holding in your mind that, overall, Republicans were responsible 60% of the time, Loyalists 30% & the security forces 10%?

    I’m struggling to be charitable but it seems you are saying that, if people from the wider nationalist/catholic community held it in their heads that over the course of 30 yrs Republican paramilitaries caused 60% of the violence, they would be less inclined to “say anything about the rights and wrongs of 1969-1998”, is that a fair interpretation?

  • Johnny Boy

    I came across this article while trying to get a better handle on the context in which Bloody Sunday occurred. There is a sense from what I am seeing in the media that Republicans see the conclusions of the report as somehow absolving them in their subsequent actions during the troubles; this is totally false. It is important for people to know that while Bloody Sunday was a very significant event in the consciousness of Republicans\Nationalist, it was not the cause of The Troubles, and occurred in a backdrop of already violent conflict between the two communities, and between the security forces and Republicans.

    The cost aside, I’m glad that there has been an inquiry, and that it has come to such clear conclusion. It’s important that the state can hold itself to higher standards than terrorists. I hope that the families and the community in Derry have now some kind of closure in regard to this incident, but are still leaves many others who have no closure, no truth, no apology; they must not be forgotten.

    For me, the conclusions of the report don’t redraw the history of the troubles, people were already dying in large numbers, the security forces, in whatever form, were always going to be the enemies of Republicanism.