Saville: A good day for reconcilation

For those who don’t remember or haven’t studied the history, the only false note was struck when the claim was repeated several times on news channels, that Bloody Sunday marked the end of the civil rights era and Derry’s association with the northern State. Culled from some news cutting, no doubt.

In fact, whatever the banners said on the day, the original civil rights campaign had long ago been superseded by a war of attrition and armed insurgency. The SDLP had quit Stormont the previous June – even before the fiasco of internment – in the wake of the army’s shootings of two young men, Cusack and Beattie.

But today, the transformation was complete. Call it euphoria or release if you like, but to me it looked and felt longer lasting . The crowds in front of the Guildhall seemed to be bringing a very old isolation to a final conclusion and marking a further stage of reconciliation with a new State in which they now play a full part.

Unionists need not have feared that this was going to be Sinn Fein’s day, the greatest in a long line of republican propaganda coups. The televised display of people power did not reinforce the republican narrative of the Troubles. The shout of “innocent” coming after the  names of each of the 14 dead gave the lie to that and put the emphasis in the right place. Revolutionaries are indifferent to matters of guilt or innocence. And it was obvious to all that the affirmation of innocence was what mattered today.

Not all the deep emotion was reserved to Guildhall Square.  Beneath the bigger but similar clock, deep feelings were expressed in the Commons. It was fitting that Mark Durkan brought the spirit of the Guildhall crowd to Westminster. Almost uniquely, the two very different forums, so often bitterly divided or locked in mutual incomprehension, were linked and united. London’s Derry or Derry’s Westminster indeed. Mark’s speech is worth quoting at length. In deliberate imitation of the custom at PMQs when the names of soldiers killed in Afghanistan are read out, he spoke the names of each of the 14 dead, his voice cracking.

Mark Durkan

May I thank the Prime Minister for his clear statement? From talking to representatives of the families a short while ago, I know that they would want to be associated with those thanks.

This is a day of huge moment and deep emotion in Derry. The people of my city did not just live through Bloody Sunday; they have lived with it since. Does the Prime Minister agree that this is a day to receive and reflect on the clear verdicts of Saville, and not to pass party verdicts on Saville?

The key verdicts are:

“despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers. No one threw or threatened to throw a nail or petrol bomb at the soldiers on Bloody Sunday”.

A further verdict is:

“none of the casualties…was posing any threat of causing death or serious injury.”

Of course, there is also the verdict that

“the British Army fired the first shots, these were not justified and none of the subsequent shots that killed or wounded”

anyone on Bloody Sunday “was justified.” In rejecting so much of the soldiers’ submissions and false accounts, the report highlights where victims were shot in the back or while crawling on the ground, or shot again when already wounded on the ground.

Will the Prime Minister confirm that each and every one of the victims—Bernard McGuigan, 41; Gerald Donaghey, 17; Hugh Gilmour, 17; John Duddy, 17; Gerard McKinney, 34; James Wray, 22; John Young, 17; Kevin McElhinney, 17; Michael Kelly, 17; Michael McDaid, 20; Patrick Doherty, 31; William McKinney, 27; William Nash, 19; and John Johnston, 59

are all absolutely and totally exonerated by today’s report, as are all the wounded? These men were cut down when they marched for justice on their own streets. On that civil rights march, they were protesting against internment without trial, but not only were their lives taken, but their innocent memory was then interned without truth by the travesty of the Widgery tribunal. Will the Prime Minister confirm clearly that the Widgery findings are now repudiated and binned, and that they should not be relied on by anyone as giving any verdict on that day?

Sadly, only one parent of the victims has survived to see this day and hear the Prime Minister’s open and full apology on the back of this important report. Lawrence McElhinney epitomises the dignity and determination of all the families who have struggled and strived to exonerate their loved ones and have the truth proclaimed.

Seamus Heaney reflected the numbing shock of Bloody Sunday and its spur to the quest for justice for not only families but a city when he wrote:

My heart besieged by anger, my mind a gap of danger,

I walked among their old haunts, the home ground where they bled;

And in the dirt lay justice, like an acorn in the winter

Till its oak would sprout in Derry where the thirteen men lay dead.”

The Bloody Sunday monument on Rossville street proclaims:

Their epitaph is in the continuing struggle for democracy”.

If today, as I sincerely hope it does, offers a healing of history in Derry and Ireland, may we pray that it also speaks hope to those in other parts of the world who are burdened by injustice, conflict and the transgressions of unaccountable power?

The Prime Minister’s welcome statement and the statement that will be made by the families on the steps of the Guildhall will be the most significant records of this day on the back of the report that has been published. However, perhaps the most important and poignant words from today will not be heard here or on the airwaves. Relatives will stand at the graves of victims and their parents to tell of a travesty finally arrested, of innocence vindicated and of promises kept, and as they do so, they can invoke the civil rights anthem when they say, “We have overcome. We have overcome this day.”

The cause of wider redress was fairly put by Willie McCrea and by Gregory Campbell,  though rather marred in his case by a lack of magnanimity.

Gregory Campbell

“We did not need a £200 million inquiry to establish that there was no premeditated plan to shoot civilians on that day. We did not need a report of such length to tell us that as a result of IRA actions before Bloody Sunday, parts of the city “lay in ruins”. Many have said that the difference between Bloody Sunday and the other atrocities that I have alluded to was that Bloody Sunday was carried out by state forces, whereas other murders were carried out by terrorists.

There has been no similar inquiry into the financing of the Provisional IRA at the inception of that organisation by another state—the Irish Republic. That Irish state acted as a midwife at the birth of an organisation responsible for murdering many thousands of UK citizens.

Soldiers answered questions in the course of the Saville inquiry. The 2IC of the Provisional IRA, Martin McGuinness, appears not to have answered questions. The public will want to know from today what he was doing with a Thompson sub-machine-gun on the day of Bloody Sunday. Does the Prime Minister agree that the sorry saga of the report is finally over and done with, and that we should look forward, rather than looking back?

Dr William McCrea

“I am sure the Prime Minister would not like to support a hierarchy of victimhood. On 17 January 1992, eight innocent civilian construction workers at Teebane were murdered by the Provisional IRA, and six others were seriously injured. On 9 April 1991, my cousin Derek was gunned down and his child was left to put his fingers into the holes where the blood was coming out to try to stop his father dying. On 7 February 1976, my two cousins were brutally murdered—one boy, 16, and his sister, 21, on the day she was engaged to be married. Therefore I say this to the Prime Minister: no one has ever been charged for any of those murders, and there have been no inquiries. Countless others, including 211 Royal Ulster Constabulary members, were also murdered. Saville says

“Noneof the casualties was posing any threat of causing death or serious injury”,

but that could be said of Teebane, of Derek, of Robert and of Rachel. How do we get closure, how do we get justice, and how do we get the truth?”

Despite its monumental length and cost, Saville may yet boost calls for more inquiries. Margaret Ritchie is not alone in calling for a review of the “Ballymurphy massacre” and it was significant that while David Cameron wished to hold the line at the Historic Inquiries team, this was not the day to rule out some form of wider examination. The failure of Eames Bradley has left a vaccuum. It will have to be filled somehow.

Ms Margaret Ritchie

Will he also give consideration to possible measures of redress for the families in Derry following the exoneration of the victims by the Saville report? In that debate, could wider consideration be given to the Ballymurphy families, who also experienced a lot of distress and pain because the Parachute Regiment, some five months earlier, was involved in those incidents, which resulted in the wounding, but above all the killing, of 10 people?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has meetings with the Ballymurphy families. The first port of call should be the historical inquiries team. It is doing good work, going through all the issues of the past and trying to settle them as best it can. We want to avoid other such open-ended, highly costly inquiries. We cannot rule out for ever that there will be no other form of inquiry, but let us allow the historical inquiries team to do its very good work.

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  • Alias

    Okay, the State declared that those murdered on Bloody Sunday weren’t guilty of their own murders as the State had more or less formerly declared, so how about the State prosecuting those who did murder its citizens on that day? Or does justice in that politically dysfunctional region of the UK now amount to no more than declarations that the dead didn’t murder themselves?

  • redhugh78

    …that was a party political broadcast by the sdlp.

  • slug

    I think the SDLP and DUP made very good contributions, as did almost every MP.

    Yes the SDLP are right that the truth was worth fighting for, yes the DUP are right that there is a broad context in which many others also very sadly died.

  • redhugh78

    What is it that Willie and Gregory can’t face up to?
    They are unable to face the truth, why?

  • “marking a further stage of reconciliation with a new State in which they now play a full part.”

    Perhaps not quite. Arlene Foster headed up the DETI team during the Royal visit to the Giants Causeway; Conor Murphy sent along a few minor officials to the Rathlin part of the visit.

  • Did Arlene offer the creationist tour of the Giant’s Causeway (I assume that is now party policy)?

  • redhugh78

    Is Gregory really indicative of unionist sentiment on Saville/Bloody Sunday?

  • Drumlin Rock

    Sadly in NI a gain for one side is often viewed as a loss for the other, that is slowly changing I believe by a process of balance, unfortunately the Bloody Sunday Inquiry is regarded as completely one sided event, with nothing similar to weigh against it with regards victims of Republicans.
    However Unionist have some reasons to welcome todays report,
    1. The British strong sense of justice has finally delivered, and the stain of Widgery atoned for somewhat.
    2. An on-going major sore within society has finally been dealt with and should be laid to rest.
    3. The report confirmed that no Grand Conspiracy existed, despite many republican claims.
    4. Finally an opportunity has been given to seek a redress of the imbalance in dealing with the past, which currently is almost entirely going to a republican agenda.

    Lord Eames has become the new Widgery, wasting an opportunity to get to the truth and opting for a whitewash instead, hopefully it wont take 12 years and hundreds of millions but the truth of the republican barbaic campaign must be revealed and I look forwards to our current Deputy First Minister make the same speech David Cameron did today.

  • I don’t think Arlene was on the tour. There was no sign of Mervyn, just Ian. I don’t know who told the McCool yarn down at the Causeway.

  • Drumlin Rock

    I think he is understating the sentiments of most to be honest.

  • TheHorse

    The truth being outed about Bloody Sunday should and hopefully will be the first in a series of British government admissions of indefensible actions by its establishment, and the role it played in covering up state murder. Hopefully now we will get to see the Stalker report, more state murder of unarmed people, executed this time by Unionist forces. Then hopefully the truth will be outed about the role played by RUC Special Branch into the activities of Mount Vernon UVF which included, allowing and covering up of its agents murdering dozens of innocent people. If Unionists feel they have been slapped in the face then they need to be prepared for a few more. If Unionists need equality through an inquiry into Enniskillen then do demand it, but dont be surprised to find that your mainland government possibly played a part in it.

  • Drumlin Rock

    This is exactly the sort of statement that turns the whole process into a farce.
    CAN REPUBLICANS NOT GET SOME BALLS AND ADMIT THEIR ACTIONS WERE ALSO “UNJUSTIFIED AND UNJUSTIFIABLE”

  • slug

    I think you make some good points-certainly as a passionate unionist and a great believer in our armed forces the apology is difficlt but must be said if we are to have honour and recognise the wrong that was committed against the families. They deserve to feel happy and vindicated today and I salute them.

    Yet the DUP and others are of course right to point to the need for a broad context and a balance – a piont that I am sure nationalists will recognise too. For us to move together this must be a broad and balanced process.

    But it is true that the Army is not the same as the IRA and in the end higher standards are rightly expected of governments. We do not expect highly of the IRA. So the truth process will, alas be one sided, in my expectation.

  • TheHorse

    All murder is unjustifiable no matter the reason no matter who carried it out republicans carried some out horrific and indefensible acts that are beyond understanding. But this hysteria and whatabouttery because Unionists feel victimhood over innocent victims being exonerated in the eyes of the world is disgraceful.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Brian,

    “The televised display of people power did not reinforce the republican narrative of the Troubles”

    Really?

    The republican narrative of the Troubles is that the British army’s behaviour was a major contributor to ferocity and length of the insurgency and the televised display of people power showed these people clapping in support of the contention that the parachute regiment should be stripped of it medals.

    That looked pretty much in line with the republican narrative – with the added bonus that is was broadcast around the world.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    TheHorse,

    Unionists need time and space to readjust to the reality that (as usual) they are out of step with reasonable opinion everywhere including (as usual ) even the government they give their allegiance to.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “Revolutionaries are indifferent to matters of guilt or innocence.”

    Written by one who appears to not comprehend the critical distinction between capability and intent.

  • Drumlin Rock

    That would be the case if the IRA was purely a terrorist gang, but they are also a political party who are currently jointly administering the country, and some of the most vocal in calling for “truth” they should not be allowed to continue with this rewrite of history.

  • slug

    They’re not the government, though.
    And we do not judge ourselves by their standards. We want to be honest, do we not?

  • Drumlin Rock

    But they ARE the government, they form half of the double act that passes for Regional Government in Northern Ireland, they aspire to our standards of legitimate democracy and therefore should be held to the same standards of honesty.

  • Keith McBurney

    A precedent that will not go away or be laid to rest is a good day for truth as vindication towards reconciliation.

    It was at a cost no one should have thought affordable, whatever the pound of sterling fleshed price for due process – in hope henceforth of both being less as it surely would have been if delivered earlier then Widgeried to get at and out the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help us – despite vested inimical interests – as the ways and means towards knowing reconciliation in what we see done and do made possible by the forbearance of all who truly loved lost ones.

    Who dare say in the name of the dead yet to be vindicated – and the no lesser love of those ready for some justly not to be – that it should not be followed-up and followed through in and out of courts now that Northern Ireland’s judiciary, legislature and coalitioned executive are responsible and will be held accountable to the people there, as well as those elsewhere?

    Who would not recognise and acknowledge by saying the true debt we owe each other and others as self – by doing as we would be done by (and so unharmed by not getting retaliation in first) – is just and so strong societies?

    Should the response of everyone everywher not be to join the humbling others who unwilling have had to bear the cost of violence in lives lost and maimed as theirs too have been, by assuring never again to any such loss or otherwise in unjust unnecessary acts perpetrated by fear stoked provocation and reprisal from any source let head lost loose to head lost run amok too?

    Any defender of freedom can turn mercenary and any freedom fighter terrorist if losing the heid in mayhem and murder. That some paratroopers in a failure of leadership that got them stuck in not being held back at the wrong place and time and the loss of self-discipline which followed was not the courage which does not surrender in the face of uncertainty.

    What happens next should serve as example to encourage all who would say no surrender to see the back of those who never had courage, including that of their failed leaders – and remaining political leadership if failing not too.

  • Dixie3057

    I saw Gregory Campbell on Spotlight last night, what a pathetic figure he struck. This was a day for the relations of those killed on Bloody Sunday. I/we know there is still a lot of unanswered questions in relation to the IRA’s actions over this last 30+ years but the difference being; this was our security forces and are answerable for their actions,- you cannot have a military presence whose job it is to enforce the law when at the same time they broke the law. I read a good part of the Saville Report and without doubt they are responsible for the deaths of 14 innocent victims. We, the whole community of Northern Ireland are glad that the truth has finally come out and all the victims exonerated.

  • Republic of Connaught

    I think, ironically, it was a positive day for any truly patriotic British person – I don’t believe most NI Unionists belong in this category because they consider the six counties not the UK as their only real concern – that their country could publicly apologise for something shameful their armed forced did nearly 40 years ago. That’s a creditable act which deserves respect.

    Well done to David Cameron for his honest words. Funny though how he also apologised on behalf of his “country”. He was in effect admitting Derry and its people are not part of the British nation but the Irish nation. He was apologising to a people of another nation.

    As for Gregory Campbell and his ilk in NI, well the people in Britain don’t regard people like him as ‘theirs’ so I suppose it’d be foolish to take his bitter opinions or those of people like him to be anything but that of bitter and isolated Ulstermen from our own island.

  • dwatch

    I wonder who these six paratroopers are, and who in the media is going to believe them after what Cameron said in parliament?

    ‘Paratroopers criticise Saville report findings’
    ‘Some of the paratroopers who served in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday have criticised the Saville Report.

    Six soldiers, none of whom fired shots at the victims, rejected criticism of Lt-Col Derek Wilford’.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/10325283.stm

  • Bulmer

    Soldiers, sailors and airmen are inclined to be very loyal to their CO’s. Look at the tale of Bomber Harris for an extreme example.

    They also may have a point.

  • I’m a nationalist who thinks the IRA are absolute scum. I also acknowledge and deeply empathise with the terrible price the unionist populace suffered during the troubles. However, for unionists to use this day for political point-scoring is absolutely reprehensible. No one is denying the justifiable right of unionists to seek redress for the horrors they suffered. I wish them well. But to see them use this very day to try to dilute/undercut with their tribal whataboutery the justifiable joy the families of the victims feel, is obnoxious in the extreme.

    On a day when the unionist/protestant community could have taken the high moral ground, they instead chose to take the cowardly, opportunistic political route. Why am I surprised?

    One can only compare the statesmanship of David Cameron with what passes for it in the unionist community.

    A yawning gap doesn’t begin to cover it.

  • Driftwood
  • Argosjohn

    McCrea and other Unionist rants: Collaborators got their just desserts. They were players. McGuinness is a red herring. When will Prince Charles be shipped off to the Hague. The “Royal” Family decorated the paras after ther BS “victory”.

  • Brian Walker

    Sammy, the essential Republican narrative argues that the armed struggle was justified. As the early discussion of Saville shows, fresh pressure is now on them to account for their actions. Blaming the army, the RUC, the Brits or whatever is not convincing. In interviews yesterday it was interesting that Adams and McGuinness were in statemanlike mode, calling for an international inquiry ” as our suggestion” and not refusing to have IRA actions examined. Whether they would actually welcome such pressure is unlikely but it is the only credible position they can adopt in public.

  • Cushy Glenn

    Cameron is a greasy snake oil salesman who is a Blair tribute act, as you’ll no doubt claim yourself on many future occasions, and will take out an onion when required- I hope McGuinness doesn’t die when Cameron is PM-well actually I do- but at least we’d be spared “He was the people’s terrorist”

    Dave played the PR game brilliantly, running with the one valuable thread of truth for historians – perceived culpability was contained at the level of Wilford and below.

    Of course there will never be a day for Unionist victims on a par with yesterday. Wrong side of history, and all that. Their clerical “leaders” are off today to join in the backwash of media hype, resentment of which Gregory accurately personifies for any Unionist of my acquaintance. Of course only predictable Gregory will
    say out loud what – be in absolutely no doubt- most Unionists are thinking.
    And calls of a minute’s silence for all victims are worthless when the murder gang responsible for the largest share get to share the limelight with the families. But the sad fact for Sinn Fein is that this is their last day in the sun. And the cold truth for the “peace process” is that this unbalanced week of victimhood- oh, and they were all victims of their times- simply increases Unionist alienation. And that can only be bad for the defenders of the process, because people who don’t hear their voices being listened to by politicians have a tendency to use other methods in the fulness of time

  • midulsterunionist

    Lets look at the so called widgery whitewash…

    ” There would have been no deaths in Londonderry on 30 January if those who organised the illegal march had not thereby created a highly dangerous situation in which a clash between demonstrators and the security forces was almost inevitable.” — Well is this not true?

    ” If the Army had persisted in its “low key” attitude and had not launched a large scale operation to arrest hooligans the day might have passed off without serious incident.” — Yeah once again it seems this was true

    “The intention of the senior Army officers to use 1 Para as an arrest force and not for other offensive purposes was sincere.” — Saville makes it clear what happened wasn’t planned by the officers who have been fully exonerated of wrongdoing so I guess this is true also

    “None of the deceased or wounded is proved to have been shot whilst handling a firearm or bomb. Some are wholly acquitted of complicity in such action; but there is a strong suspicion that some others had been firing weapons or handling bombs in the course of the afternoon and that yet others had been closely supporting them.” — Saville says as much when he says some were probably carrying nail bombs and stones etc. so I guess once again widgery wasn’t actully that far away from the truth

    but wait a sec if he wasn’t that far from the real truth then whats the problem?? Oh wait it wasn’t the answer that you wanted so guess what… lets hold another inquiry until you get the answer you do want. Lets face it if this inquiry had found the same as widgery (which it wasn’t set up to do anyway) would the republicans in Londonderry have accepted it? or would they have kept complaining until they got another inquiry set up?

    Just think £191 million pounds was wasted on this exercise in rewriting history… money that could have saved the West’s A&E… that could have saved countless jobs, that could have saved us from the recession, that could have been used to help and build up the West….wasted

  • Keith McBurney

    David Cameron speeks of “country” as in UK realm.

    It would be ours too – as freemen/women, notionally citizens, but in practice subjects if our nations’ people’s sovereignty was recognised and publicly acknowledged by politicians and public alike in being so as one, and statutory provisioned to exercise fully that natural self-responsible and asserted right over all bar judicial and legislative authorities in our so named personal and plural own free wills – as our individual, joint and several sovereignty is and would as should be so signified and symbolised by our Head of State’s sovereignty in some such declared preamble to a ‘Peoples’ Sovereignty and Democratic Participation Bill’ including enactment or otherwise provided suite of ways and means to just ends, as measures such as priority Peoples’ Conventions (formal) and Assemblies (informal) to consensually discuss, deliberate and self-determine determine the ownership, process and further scope for work which would enable folk to raise any matter of concern at any time with any public, private or voluntary body – that all should be in public purpose for the common good – and so invoke graduated responses for resolution in primarily consensual processes that should and would give people real voice and votes on ideas, proposal and preferences.

    About now would not be soon enough, but better late than never in view of what we’ve got coming to us as first tranche over the next decades within a week on 22 June, and given the coterie of politicians asking us for answers on what, how, when and where without yet being invited to Seal our Deal as outlined above on the Coalition’s Agreement ‘cum Manifesto none of us voted for in returning some LabLibServative consensus as yet without it not truly all in to together if ever thus, but all the more so in it to win it, entirely in keeping with political emancipation and al else as normal, natural evolution which thrives best in self-altruism.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Brian,

    “the essential Republican narrative argues that the armed struggle was justified”

    There will probably be many in Britian and elsewhere, who were previously unacquainted with the facts, but who will now conclude that when a civil rights demonstration is shot off the streets and some of the protesters shot dead while trying to escape or lying defencelsss on the ground that it at least understandable, if not justified, for many to join the insurgency.This will particulalry be the case for those at least partly acquainted with Irish history which provides the context for understanding the ‘The Troubles’.

    This was a good day for the ‘Republican narrative’ which helps to explain the negative Unionist reaction.

  • vanhelsing

    Interesting post NE,

    Whilst on a personal note I’m closer to your sentiments, I think that Gregory [who might have chosen his words better] is reflecting the pain felt by the Unionist community over the IRA 30 year terror campaign. I guess [and I’m not] if you were someone who lost a family member as part of this – Saville would leave you with mixed feelings.

    I’m happy that the Saville report is out and it closes the whole sorry affair – not the best day for our military by a mile but there was also clear intend by OIRA to take out some of the soldiers.

    Bottom line now for the vast majority of the Unionist family is now to move on and take NI forward.

  • Keith McBurney

    As some of the 55,000 who died trying perhaps tried to make, and to an extent still went unsatisfied, but drew off fire, financial & materiel commitment worn down as expended – especially after being equipped with the kit to attack sites like synthetic oil plants as interdiction targets with greater precision than first possible when targetting co-located population centres, which were well known by then only to stiffen resistance and resolve in the London Blitz, and the opening of all fronts in the air after the Battle of Britain following escape from Dunkirk, airsea Battle of the Atlantic, and finally in the allied airland and surrounding seas which the D-Day foothold enigma prized like all open to close.

  • slug

    To people complaining about unionists.

    I think it is important to listen to both sides. Unionists can’t be dismissed as “bitter isolated” etc; that attitude is not constructive. The points that unionists make about balance seem worth listening to just as I as a unionist believe the PM’s statement and apology was fully appropriate and I welcome yesterday and am pleased for the familes of the victims that yesterday happened.

    Lets learn a bit about respect for each other and accept that there are a lot of different interests and experiences. And let us value the truth and owning up to past wrongs regardless of whether they were on one side or the other.

  • vanhelsing

    good post slug – bang on

  • Drumlin Rock

    And therefore justifies the Unionist reaction, and hilights the weakness of Saville taking Bloody Sunday out of context, remember the IRA campaign was in full swing long before that day.

  • slappymcgroundout

    midulsterunionist:

    You left out Seville’s finding that the 1 Para CO violated his orders:

    171.40 Colonel Wilford failed to inform Brigade that in his view the situation had changed and that the only prospect of making any arrests was to send his soldiers along Rossville Street into the Bogside. He then failed to obey the order that Brigadier MacLellan gave, which prohibited any such movement.

    Let that sink in……………………………………………………

    So, the good CO was liable to be court-martialed, at least if your military has the same rules as ours:

    “Any person subject to this chapter who—
    ***
    (2) having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by a member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order
    ***
    Elements.
    ***
    (2) Failure to obey other lawful order.
    (a) That a member of the armed forces issued a certain lawful order;
    (b) That the accused had knowledge of the order;
    (c) That the accused had a duty to obey the order; and
    (d) That the accused failed to obey the order.”

    And for why he got “hammered” in the report and justifiably so:

    “He thus created a situation in which soldiers chased people down Rossville Street and beyond, in circumstances where it was not possible to distinguish between those who had merely been marching and those who had been rioting. In other words he set in train the very thing his Brigadier had enjoined him from doing. He should not have ordered his soldiers to go in vehicles along Rossville Street and into the Bogside.”

    You do understand what happened, yes? Some were sent to get tough. That was to be mass arrest of rioters, etc. Except that couldn’t happen as most had either left or were leaving. So, in order that the operation not have a purposeless end, he violated his orders and set in train…

    Lastly, if you’d leave the bias aside and see with some objectivity, you’d see that not only did he put in jeopardy those wholly inclined towards peaceful demonstration, he also put in jeopardy his own men. Pity that some of his boys are still the lapdogs they’ve likely always been, or else they’d understand that their CO wasn’t doing their lives any favor in violating his orders.

    Almost forgot, but your friends at CAIN called this one a while back, and they showed up Widgery for the fraud that he was (by way of his omission):

    This links up with the specific task allotted to 1 Para which was in the following terms:

    “1. Maintain a Brigade Arrest Force to conduct a scoop-up operation of as many hooligans and rioters as possible.
    (a) This operation will only be launched either in whole or in part on the orders of the Brigade Commander.

    (b) …………

    (c) …………

    (d) It is expected that the arrest operation will be conducted on foot.

    2. A secondary role of the force will be to act as the second Brigade mobile reserve.”

    113. Lord Widgery omitted the directions for dealing with “Hooliganism” at (b) and (c). According to the Sunday Times Insight Team report published in April 1972 and that of Prof. Dash, part (c) of the Operation Order set out the geographical confines of the operation as follows; “the scoop up operation is likely to be launched on two axes, one directed towards hooligan activity in the area of William St./Little Diamond, and one towards the area of William St./Little James St.” In other words, the order envisaged activity along William Street and not up Rossville Street. Lord Widgery’s failure to spell this out was a telling one for it would have underlined the extent to which the movement of 1 Para had violated the Operation Order. If they were not following this plan, what plan, it can be legitimately asked, had they in mind?”

    So, not up Rossville Street. And Widgery left out since if he’d put it in, would have been rather plain that the CO violated his orders, thereby putting the citizens of Derry and his own men in danger (and a danger that his orders were designed to avoid).

  • Ardmhacha

    Gregory could have used yesterday to gain some respect from the nationalist community, I don’t think i heard him once say it was great day for the truth, he simply went straight into a rant of whataboutery.

    There are knuckle draggers in both communities who don’t care one bit what happened to the otherside but most moderate people in this country know and understand the pain felt by the losses on both sides.

    My other half is protestant and she was disgusted with Mr Campbell last night, but i guess this is a product of the times we live in, when sectarian bigots (on both sides) are voted in to positions of power, we unfortunetly will have to see them put on a pedestle and allowed to talk tripe for all to hear!

  • Johnny Boy

    Would the money have been better spent on a truth commission, looking into to all the deaths during the troubles? Or would the probable drip, drip of uncomfortable revelations from all sides destroy the peace process?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Drumlin Rock,

    There are a number of contexts, one is the paratroppers had shot people previously in Belfast and another is the unacceptability of the British Army propping up a discredited Stormont by implementing internment etc.

    The problem for Unionist politicans is that the Saville report draws attention to these political and military realities and as usual Unionists are in denial and out of step even with the people in Britain and the British Prime Minsiter with their reactions to Saville.

    More embarassing stuff from the Unionist leaders.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Yes, Slug, past wrongs should be owned up to on all sides. Only then can trust be built when honesty and truth prevails.

    But Gregory Campbell came across as a bitter and twisted disgrace on Spotlight. I understand Unionists feel aggrieved about all their victims who got no inquiries. But the Irish state forces didn’t murder those Unionist victims. The British state forces did murder 14 unnarmed Irish civilians in Derry. Yet Gregory Campbell couldn’t show any dignity or compassion on the day those families in Derry finally got an apology 38 years later from a British PM that their relatives were innocent on Bloody Sunday. He belongs in the sectarian past, not the future.

  • midulsterunionist

    The irish government colluded with the IRA to murder unionists, as did members of the British government and some of the very people in our government today were the trigger men… when will unionists see justice for our dead?

  • Republic of Connaught

    And the British government colluded with loyalists to kill nationalists. There is no inquiry for that either.

    But the Irish state forces didn’t shoot dead 14 innocent Unionists. The British state forces did shoot dead 14 innocent Nationalists.

    That’s why it’s different to other victims.

  • midulsterunionist

    No but Irish state linked forces murder hundreds of innocent civilians… no difference.

  • Republic of Connaught

    .The Irish state forces didn’t murder any unnarmed civilians during the troubles. The British state forces did. So that’s a huge difference.

    As for the Irish state now being responsible for PIRA murders – usually Unionists are crowing to northern Nationalists about how the Southern state abandoned them and now the South is supposedly responsible for HUNDREDS of Unionist deaths? Make up your minds.

    I’d like to see all innocent victims in the north get justice, nationalist or unionist. Victims are victims irrespective of political belief. And when innocent nationalist or unionist people do get justice, like yesterday, everyone should be glad for them.

  • Cushy Glenn

    I’ve never heard any Unionist crowing about southern neglect- most of us wish they had!
    And the Haughey/Kelly gun running was to assist the Provos- if Libya’s sending semtex is bad, what’s the difference?
    And we await the Breen Buchanan report- with Garda collusion – as one small example of the regular narrative of southern collusion which is of no importance whatever to the media and their agenda

    M U U has you nailed

  • Republic of Connaught

    Cushy Glen, the British state and the Irish state will never allow all the seedy truths to be known about the troubles – which is why the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings won’t get the answers they seek. But to suggest the southern state is responsible for “hundreds” of deaths committed by the PIRA is just pure bitter nonsense.

  • Keith McBurney

    As seems indirectly in “No excuses, but never forget the context of Bloody Sunday” (as of 10:37 pm 16 Jun 10 @ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1286909/No-excuses-forget-context-Bloody-Sunday.html?ITO=1490) in the Daily Mail’s follow-up comment to its earlier “It wasn’t Blair who brought peace to Ulster but brave British soldiers about to be branded as criminals” (as of 10:19 am 15 Jun 10 @ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1286646/BLOODY-SUNDAY-INQUIRY-Brave-British-soldiers-branded-criminals.html) published direct comments by General Mike Rose.

    Rose’s being with or without knowledge of the Saville Report and mutual knowledge or not of General Mike Jackson’s direct voiced apology for to it, shown in side-bar video to the headlined “Paras back colonel criticised in Bloody Sunday report” of BBC New’s channel reported coverage (as last updated at 09:55 am 16 Jun 10 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/10325283.stm) quoted response from “six soldiers, none of whom fired shots at the victims, rejected [adverse] criticism of Lt Col Derek Wilford” also on the spot but did not either, and now in the undoubted Saville and General Rose’s spotlight for his failure in command of those on Bloody Sunday who did, as undoubted by General Jackson’s – inferred if not implied – apology for their action in doing so.

    This amid the side-bar videos taken of others, including the PM David Cameron’s apology, and comments by the Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson refusing to be drawn into controversy, whilst pointedly directing attention to the Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) and the Historic Inquiries team.

  • slug

    I didn’t catch him on anything other than his speech in the House where I thought his points were fair enough. In fact I thought the DUP were right to point out the importance of balance, just as I was impressed by the Durkan speech. Everyone has to have their say and express how they feel.

    Personally, though, as a unionist, I am very happy that the truth on Bloory Sunday has been established to the satisfaction of the families. I hope that this is part of a healing process for us all.

  • Clanky

    “All murder is unjustifiable no matter the reason no matter who carried it out republicans ”

    So was the killing of Nazi soldiers by the French resistance unjustifiable? While not trying to defend the acts of republican terrorists over the years I do think that violence can be justified for political purposes in some circumstances and I do think that there is a huge difference between a government using violence on it’s own citizens and a political organisation using violence as a means to furthering it’s aims.

    The attrocites of the IRA are terrible and the loss felt by the victims of the IRA can be no less than the loss felt by the victims of Bloody Sunday, the reason why an inquiry into Bloody Sunday is more appropriate than an inquiry into Teebane is because the inquiry was carried out by the British state who are the very people who carried out the acts of Bloody Sunday and as such is a symbol that not only are they admitting their own mistakes and failings and also because it is a symbol that they do not intend to make the same mistakes again.

    The hypocrisy lies with those who would condemn a terrorist organisation for murdering innocent civilians, but try to defend a government for doing so.

  • Clanky

    Lets look at the so called widgery whitewash…

    ” There would have been no deaths in Londonderry on 30 January if those who organised the illegal march had not thereby created a highly dangerous situation in which a clash between demonstrators and the security forces was almost inevitable.” — Well is this not true?

    Yeah, and if nationalists had just accepted the injustices of the British State in the 60’s instead of campaigning for civil rights then there would have been no loyalist murder squads and no need for the British army to come here in the first place, right?

    ” If the Army had persisted in its “low key” attitude and had not launched a large scale operation to arrest hooligans the day might have passed off without serious incident.” — Yeah once again it seems this was true

    It is only true if you accept that people campaigning against injustice are mere hooligans, the Widgery report did so because they started with a conclusion and twisted the facts to suit that conclusion.

    “The intention of the senior Army officers to use 1 Para as an arrest force and not for other offensive purposes was sincere.” — Saville makes it clear what happened wasn’t planned by the officers who have been fully exonerated of wrongdoing so I guess this is true also

    So the fact that a massacre of innocent people occured is OK because it wasn’t pre-meditated?

    “None of the deceased or wounded is proved to have been shot whilst handling a firearm or bomb. Some are wholly acquitted of complicity in such action; but there is a strong suspicion that some others had been firing weapons or handling bombs in the course of the afternoon and that yet others had been closely supporting them.” — Saville says as much when he says some were probably carrying nail bombs and stones etc. so I guess once again widgery wasn’t actully that far away from the truth

    One person was probably in possession of nail bombs but not doing anything at the time to justify his shooting, that does not justify killing 14 people as Widgery seems to infer that it does.

    but wait a sec if he wasn’t that far from the real truth then whats the problem?? Oh wait it wasn’t the answer that you wanted so guess what… lets hold another inquiry until you get the answer you do want. Lets face it if this inquiry had found the same as widgery (which it wasn’t set up to do anyway) would the republicans in Londonderry have accepted it? or would they have kept complaining until they got another inquiry set up?

    It was far from the real truth because it claimed that the killings were justifiable, the only way that the Saville report could have come to the same conclusions as Widgery was if it had been a whitewash just as Widgery was and in that case, no, the people of Derry would not have accepted it

    Just think £191 million pounds was wasted on this exercise in rewriting history… money that could have saved the West’s A&E… that could have saved countless jobs, that could have saved us from the recession, that could have been used to help and build up the West….wasted

    Much less than was wasted in years of the British occupation of Ireland.

  • Neil

    when will unionists see justice for our dead?

    Still not seeing the fact that many have had justice through the courts already? That the big deal here is that for once, just one time, the army is being scrutinised? Bearing in mind that the IRA as a whole have collected thousands of years in jail already.

    This is pure duplicitousness. You don’t want to see innocent Catholics receiving justice and here’s why: because when Catholics receive justice it strips away the comforting blanket of lies that the British and state forces did no wrong. It shows the Unionist side of the fence in a bad light. But I’m assuming you don’t worry too much about that, as you begrudge one set of victims any closure or truth while demanding further, more justice for the victims on your side of the fence. So showing Unionism in a bad light is your form, and doesn’t bother you at all.

    Bitterness, hypocrisy, it’s all there to see. Innocent civilians are exonerated and all you can whinge is ‘where’s my enquiry, why don’t you lock up some IRA men’ when in fact IRA men have been being locked away for more than 30 years, while soldiers and state forces have been protected from any consequence for their role in murder. But shhhh we don’t want to talk about that, those murders suited you quite well and any talk of justice for those innocents will be met with your shrill matra of ‘themmuns, themmuns themmuns’ and lies about concern for innocent victims without the qualifying word Protestant.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Actually most of the hypocrisy here lies with those who would condemn a Government for murdering innocent civilians, but try to defend a terrorist organisation for doing so.

  • Keith McBurney

    Pray make it so to let it be so.

    Let it be so,

    In passing to move on in that direction of travel, here clarification of what might otherwise be the mistaken identity of namesakes – but who are in not in any way related by blood as far as i know yet. This too said in selfish hope of engaging one of their removal trucks one day lasting two. Not yellow to take me away mind, but chattels home over the border and Borders some long gone kings shipped troublesome Reivers (incl Scots Burns back again?) from both sides to Ulster, as later kings having by then found Australia did too.

    Ach, if only the Romans had not gone home and left Hadrians wall unattended 🙁 ]

  • EyeontheNorth

    Nail. Head. Hit. Good job.

  • kevin moran

    Come on unionists! Play up! Play up! And play the game! The sectarian republican f***wits demand that you settle for some small little instances of justice. Heaven forfend you ask for all the dead to be counted.

    They would, no doubt, have been equally content with, say, only seven of the Bloody Sunday families having been included in Saville.

    At the same time the old chestnuts of “shoot-to-kill” and “collusion” are drawn from the fire to ‘scare’ you. How laughable. They chose to ignore the fact that the vast majority of unionists have no time for those who break the law, unlike republicans who vote them into office. Stand up to be counted and embraced Tommy G. McGuinness!

    Let them and their ilk witter on. Their poisonous verbiage will, like the poor, always be with us. We should at least be thankful that they are only using hammers; for now the AK47s are on hold.

    Optimum est patí quod émendáre nón possís.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    As has been said, Ireland did not fund nor support the IRA. For christs sake, we fought and won the civil war against them. The IRA have been our enemy because they wanted to destroy our country and replace it with one of their own imposition.

    Did individual citizens of the irish state support the IRA?
    Yes.
    Did the Irish state?
    No.

    We have not taken your blows under republican cudgels, but we have had ours. Why else do you think SF preform so badly down here? Why else do think there is so little support among us for a united Ireland?

  • Cormac Mac Art

    By the way, I just want to say, in light of the departure of our dear Horseman –

    I love you guys.

  • apollo293867

    I have heard a lot about context today, mostly from the likes of Gregory Campbell etc. As an Englishman living here it seems that an historic wrong has been made right. Obviously that is in the midst of other wrongs from both sides. However going back to 1972, the Unionist Parliament had interned people and made marching illegal. Two of the cornerstones of any free society is the right to free assembly and the freedom from detention without trial. Therefore the issue of context is not a strong hand that the Unionist community at large should seek to play.

    I listened last night to a lot of concillitory talk from the nationalist community last night and the response has been at best defensive. If a leader of Unionism could step forward?

  • midulsterunionist

    republicans accusing unionists of whinging? Has the world gone mad… or is the hypocrisy of republicans just astounding

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Dammit, Saville hath spoke and Horseman dead – can ye not wisht?

  • TheHorse

    No the hypocrisy of some Unionists is astounding, especially Gregory Campbell, has he forgot his party created a terrorist army who together with the UDA and UVF imported hundreds of weapons into the country that were then used to murder innocent people. Has he forgotten the DUP advised the UVF not to call a ceasefire when they were murdering innocent catholics. Yes Im all for inquiries into all the deaths of the past conflict but it is Unionists and the British government who have most to fear from the truth being outed.

  • vanhelsing,

    I can only imagine how difficult it was yesterday for those in the unionist community who have lost loved ones to terrorists and who have yet to have their voices heard and receive justice. I fully understand their anger and disquiet. I want them to receive justice. It was only the timing of their political representatives’ opinions that I had misgivings about. Nothing else.

    “Bottom line now for the vast majority of the Unionist family is now (ready) to move on and take NI forward.”

    And that’s great to know. The best of luck.

  • jonno99

    Gregory Campbell’s comments were at best mean spirited. He’d do well to catch himself on before he’s consumed by his own very obvious sectarian agenda.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Where is the evidence that what Campbell says is what most unionists think ?

  • Nunoftheabove

    How is it valid when he has produced no evidence to support his assertion that what Campbell says is agreed with by the majority of unionists ?

  • Nunoftheabove

    It’s the price of truth and yes a different standard does apply to the state than to illegal secret paramilitaries who have no pretence to any adherence to the law, still less to public accountability . Why not welcome this as a perhaps too rare good day for UK democracy, for citzenship, for truth, for humanity. There must be good days ahead for other victims but this is a landmark nonetheless given the subsequent history of the conflict following the unlawful killing and lies of Bloody Sunday.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Irish state linked forces ? Please explain.

  • Dixie3057

    Slug, I agree with your comment 100%, I follow slugger’s blog regularly and the theme of “bitter isolated” seems to come through on a lot of the posts ( on whatever subject ) which by their content is of a nationalist/republican viewpoint. Bitterness is not onesided..I get the feeling that the phrase moving on is just held by a few bloggers. Furthermore, the views of the unionist tradition are dismissed to readily, the majoriity of which don’t have the same opinon as Gregory Campell,

  • Dixie3057

    You can take it from me most unionists don’t agree with G Campbell’s views, when the DUP agreed to go into the assembly,after years of condemning the U U for betrayal. The party forgot to change the mindset of their politicians.

  • Alias

    “And when innocent nationalist or unionist people do get justice, like yesterday, everyone should be glad for them.” – Republic of Connaught

    Got justice? I think folks are confusing Saville with the 1991 Birmingham Six appeal. Saville wasn’t a trial, so it cannot declare anyone guilty or not guilty, just as Widgery couldn’t and didn’t declare the victims of BS guilty. The BS victims weren’t exhonerated of any crime because they were never convicted of any crime.

    This is the British state cleverly using the catholics’ own myth against them. In reality, the British state has told the families of the BS victims to go fuck themselves if they think the State has any intention of delivering justice for their loved ones. It has brainwashed them so successfully that they now think that denial of justice is actually delivery of it.

  • Alias

    To add to that: this issue isn’t whether or not the BS victims were guilty of any crime but whether or not those who shot them are guilty of a crime. That has not been put to a Court because the British state has persistently refused to do so, and it is still refusing to do so. It simply put the focus on the ‘guilt’ of the victims to take it off the victimizers. It is now time to stop being fucked about by the British state and to put that fucus back on the victimizers, demanding that the state holds its actors to account for the murder of its own citizens.

  • midulsterunionist

    But Alias republicans got an apology… so what if there are no prosecutions and no trials? So what if there is no real justice? Isn’t it better to believe you got justice when in fact you got a carefully crafted statement which only served to actually increase the British Government’s standing within republican communities?

  • midulsterunionist

    Look at the posts from unionists in the last couple of days even just here on slugger… about three support saville whilst the rest are aginst it, look at the facebook campaigns, look at the loyalist magazines even look at what the unionist politicians are saying and it is obvious the majority are against this biased report…

    by the way did anyone read the statement by one of the PIRA members who later joined the INLA when he said that Martin McG had dyed his hair aurburn at one point?

  • midulsterunionist

    “Yeah, and if nationalists had just accepted the injustices of the British State in the 60’s instead of campaigning for civil rights then there would have been no loyalist murder squads and no need for the British army to come here in the first place, right?”

    Not at all, they should have protested but they should have doen so legally, maybe if they hadn’t went into direct conflict with the police and army they might have had cross community support… they should have been peacefully protesting in a legal manner,

    “It is only true if you accept that people campaigning against injustice are mere hooligans, the Widgery report did so because they started with a conclusion and twisted the facts to suit that conclusion.”

    No I view people who were involved in an illegal parade and attacking police and carrying nailbombs and firing on the army with machine guns as hooligans, the saville started with conclusion and worked backwards even ignoring sizeable amounts of eyewittness testimony

    “So the fact that a massacre of innocent people occured is OK because it wasn’t pre-meditated?”
    No one said that but it does show that republicans have been lying when going on about how Bloody Sundya was planned by Heath etc.

    “One person was probably in possession of nail bombs but not doing anything at the time to justify his shooting, that does not justify killing 14 people as Widgery seems to infer that it does.”

    he was a member of Fianna the IRA youth wing and was carrying an explosive device with intent to kill or main… he died in the process of his bomb run… he is no innocent victim, Widgery makes it clear others were innocent… it doesn’t infer that it was ok for 14 to die but it does make it clear that one was a terrorist.

    “It was far from the real truth because it claimed that the killings were justifiable, the only way that the Saville report could have come to the same conclusions as Widgery was if it had been a whitewash just as Widgery was and in that case, no, the people of Derry would not have accepted it”

    It was a blackwash… it was set up to blacken the army, BS was justifiable and it has been justified for 38 years… republicans were never going to be content until they got the answer they wanted

    “Much less than was wasted in years of the British occupation of Ireland.”

    How is the old free state doing down there? The western equivalent of Saudi Arabia? or maybe a paradies for the rich? or is it something akin to Greece and nearly bankrupt… Big Bad Britain is keeping us afloat.. the south cant even look after themselves never mind us