The day David Cameron became more than a Tory leader…

I must confess to having experienced very little surprise at David Cameron’s firm stand and unequivocal performance in the British House of Commons yesterday, other than the degree of dignity with which he carried it off  (I see Paul Bew concurs) and the utter silence in the house on all sides as he made his highly detailed speech. Detail which was delivered him by the forensic, PhD nature of Mark Saville’s report.

Owen Paterson may have got some of his calculations wrong in the run up to the election, but it always seemed to me he was determined to take Saville by the scruff of the neck. Levels of trust I would say are currently unseasonably high in nationalist Northern Ireland.

Unionism could do worse than follow his example (see Drumlin’s piece above this one) and try to lead from the higher moral ground. As I argued yesterday, the state retains its democratic legitimacy precisely because it holds itself to higher account than insurgent organisations…

That aside, although it is possible always to overstate the importance of the kinds of political theatre we saw yesterday in Westminster and, just as if not more importantly, the city of Derry, Cameron made his first big play as PM and came through with his reputation and status greatly enhanced…

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  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, have just posted the statement above, its too easy to just go on the soundbites, but it was extremely well crafted and balanced.

  • Oracle

    Very statesman like by “straight talking Dave”

    However the reality was the Saville report left no room for political manouvers fudge or spin

  • joe mack

    democratic legitimacy precisely because it holds itself to higher account than insurgent organisations…………

    nonsense justice is blind, mcguiness must be tried for his crimes

  • joe mack

    lets not forget who was with the relatives yesterday cheering them on, the IRA commander for Londonderry M McGuinness and IRA commander for Belfast G Adams

    Says it all.

  • slug


    His response to the questions in the debate in the House was just as impressive as his speech. Perhaps more so since they were completely spontaneous.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Yeah, I thought David Cameron read the speech with great sincerity. I was impressed by the dignity he showed on behalf of the British state and how shocked he was by the contents of the report. It’s certainly the way forward in Anglo-Irish relations to see honesty and integrity like that from a Tory PM in difficult circumstances.

  • Eire32

    “democratic legitimacy precisely because it holds itself to higher account than insurgent organisations…………”

    This is not the view of most Irish Nationalists, certainly none that i know.

    The British State will never have democratic legitimacy in my eyes, and i certainly won’t be holding it in “higher account” Than native “insurgents”.

    As for Cameron, good job, first time for every ting.

  • joe mack

    The British State will never have democratic legitimacy in my eyes, and i certainly won’t be holding it in “higher account” Than native “insurgents”…………

    must be hard for you knowing Ulster is britsh

  • Mark

    David Cameron was genuine and sincere yesterday. You felt like he meant what he was saying. He understands what its like to lose a loved one and this came accross in his apology. Its a pity he wasn’t around twenty years ago instead of that cun?. Ireland should give him a chance.

  • joe mack

    im sure that republicans will do very nicely under the tories

  • Eire32

    Green post offices in Donegal lad.

  • Mark

    ” will do ” ?

  • Mark

    NOT ANY MORE joey boy, NOT ANY MORE !

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    I agree totally about Cameron’s speech, the boy done good and he even slipped in a ‘Derry’ into it.

    One issue I have with Cameron and Patterson is their apparent suprise at the findings regarding the behaviour of the soldeirs – any Prime Minister and incoming SOS should have been familiar with the eye witness accounts (and even the excellent ITV dramatisation) which made it clear that the soldiers had shot those fleeing and even lying on the ground.

    Saville’s conclusions were a suprise to some but only those who took little interest in the events that day could have been suprised by Saville’s reporting of the behaviour of the soldiers.

    ..and a little bit of unpleasnt self-serving politics seems to have slipped into Patterson’s defence of widgery.

  • Bulmer

    It was Cameron’s ‘Queen of Hearts’ moment. He became PM for better or worse.

  • Alias

    The function of the Inquiry was not to hold the State to account, so Cameron is simply wrong to claim it has performed that function. The State has not been held to account. The State has a duty to prosecute those who commit crimes against its citizens. That is what it means to be held to account.

    No where in that statement does the British prime minister claim that the State should prosecute those soldiers who murdered its citizens. In actuality, he deliberately exluded that option, citing the mantra of ‘moving-on’ as the coded langauge wherein the British state will continue its policy of failing to prosecute its agents for crimes against its citizens.

    This isn’t the statement of a statesman: it is the statement of a squalid toad who is proactively shafting the victims of the state.

  • Alias

    A statesman does not make scapegoats of soldiers. It may be there will be charges, thats not for Cameron to decide.

    Cameron took the responsibility on behalf of his country. In that he did more than any other British leader in decades,

  • Alias

    Scapegoats? I think you need to examine the legal definition of murder.

    The British prime minister is continuing the old policy of failing to prosecute state actors who murder the State’s citizens. That was the policy at the time of Widgery, and it is the policy now.

  • Ulster Is BRitish

    No british soldier will be prosecuted for this

    now we need to focus on mcguinness and get his crimes into the open
    its time the chief constable order his arrest immediately

  • Alias

    No, you need to examine the parameters of the Saville Report. It was not their job to bring charges. It was there job to examine the facts, sift the evidence and reach conclusions. Camerons job was to accept or deny the Saville report.

    He took responsibility with dignity. It is for the CPS to decide if charges are to be bought. I will be watching with interest and so Im sure will everyone.

  • Munsterview

    Nail Bombs are indeed central to this discussion, but from a Nationalist and Republican point of view they have a connotation not raised here so far.

    1) Every one of the relatives of the dead are adamant that all the dead and injured of Bloody Sunday were unarmed, not only that, most if not all their immediate relatives also were then anti-armed force and despite what happened, remained so afterwards to the ceasefire.

    2) If nail bombs were ‘found’ on any of the victims and they were not brought to the area by Militant Republicans, then State Forces had carriage of any bombs found.

    3) If nail bombs were brought to the site of the massacre, then they were brought there as part of a plan to justify summary killings post the event.

    4) It also so follows from this line of reasoning that what happened was not accidental, that rather it was a planned and deliberate act in fulfillment of strategy and tactics that was part of a master plan.

    5) If there had been Irish Republican Army present fully armed and ready for combat at the time of the shooting and they retaliated, with or without orders, dozens more could have been killed and or wounded in the crossfire.

    6) The majority of the Nationalist Community in Derry was against physical force at that time and afterwards. Time and again during the seventies in Derry I see relatives and others intervening to give youngsters a clip around the ear or kick in the backside for trowing stones at the British Army or RUC and ‘ trying to start trouble ‘ even if these same forces were detested.

    7) Had such a firefight taken place with the resulting casualties, then it would have created another Omagh situation for Militant Republicanism. As far as many Republicans and Nationalists are concerned, this was the Grand Plan that was effected stage by stage until the expected IRA retaliation did not materialize. The Nail Bomb scenario was then brought into play to justify the murder of innocent who had summarily killed by the paras.

    8) Given the scale of the possible killings that could have been involved in this situation, it is inconceivable that British Security or Armed Forces would have embarked in this exercise without prior agreement and sanction from Government level.

    9) While what happened in Bloody Sunday is seen in a Derry Civil Rights march context only, such a scenario can be dismissed. However looked at in the context of British Army activities in Kenya, Cyprus, Burma etc for the previous quarter of a century and the way they responded to local Armed Freedom Fighters, quite a different picture emerges.

    10) While Bloody Sunday is seen only in the context of a local policing action that somehow went wrong, then the answers as to what happened on the day will also be wrong, they may tell of what happened but will not truly answer why.

  • Munsterview

    That face on ‘ 8 ‘ above aint mine….. do not know where the hell it came from…… it was not there in my final check!

  • DoppiaVu

    Sorry, but this is nonsense.

    Saville conveniently distanced the British government from what actually happened on the ground. It was all the fault of a few rogue paras.

    No mention of the fact that it was the British government’s decision to send in the paras to do a peacekeeping job. The paras: shock troops, trained killers, whose star performers generally graduate to the SAS. Just the boys to send in to do a peacekeeping job in a highly charged situation. It was that decision which made tragedy on Bloody Sunday almost inevitable. A British Government decision. Which Saville conveniently ignores.

    So Cameron wasn’t really apologising for anything, as no one to do with Government was implicated.

    Generally, I think people are letting the momentousness (is that a word?) of the day cloud their better judgement. The victims were exonerated, which is without doubt the main thing. But that was all we got. No really clear answers. No one in the British Government held to account for sending in the paras. Martin McG running around with a machine gun which he may or may not have fired. An IRA man gunned down who is found to be carrying nail bombs which may have been planted by British troops, or maybe weren’t. Oh yes, Saville didn’t need to answer that question either as apparently if he did have nail bombs on him, and they hadn’t been planted by the army, he had no intention of using them on the day anyway (???!!!).