Bloody Sunday soldiers to face investigation…

So, presumably on foot of the mountain of material generated by the Saville Inquiry, the PSNI is to open a major criminal investigation into the deaths of Bloody Sunday. Well, if proof were needed it certainly kills off the notion that anything that happened before 1998 has some sort of immunity.

Well, yes, except that earlier in the week, the Secretary of State told families of the Ballymurphy/Springfield Park killings from about six months before (and involving the same regiment) that any new public inquiry would not be in the public interest.

The abiding truth is that the 2005 Inquiries Act drew the teeth of any public investigation into the past. Saville has dumped a shed load of material into the lap of the HET which probably made impossible for them not to prepare a case against the soldiers concerned.

The decision to call even a limited inquiry is a political one, and as Anthony McIntyre notes:

…just why [might] the British wish to cause offence to nationalists in the same week that they blow off demands for an inquiry into the Ballymurphy massacre. They do it because they can. It is what they do. And they will continue doing it because there is no one yet capable of mobilising the moral power to stop them. [emphasis added]

The fact that there are many more unresolved killings by Loyalists and Republicans than by the security forces will make mobilising that ‘moral power’ difficult to impossible for anyone, whomsoever they be. Now everyone with any serious political convening power is locked into the institutions.

There was also mumbling on Facebook last night about the cost of such a criminal investigation by the North Down DUP MLA Peter Weir. But if sufficient evidence exists, it is hard to see how any democratic politician could protest it.

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  • tacapall

    Too little too late Mick im afraid, does anyone actually believe there will be any convictions resulting from this murder inquiry that will supposedly take four years, what age will those murderers be in another four years time ? Does anyone for a second believe the British establishment would allow former paratroopers who at the very least will be in their mid 60s be found guilty of murder and imprisoned. This is just the second stage of the British Governments admission that those who died on Bloody Sunday were innocent, but no-one will be imprisoned for their murders.

  • Henry94

    I suspect the victims on all sides are being played here. Investigations and possible investigations keep everybody in line and afraid to talk in case they are charged.

    The nightmare scenario for the British and the leaders of various armed groups would be a general amnesty which would free everyone to tell their story.

    By holding out the unrealistic possibility of justice the powers that be make sure nobody gets truth. Of course we can all be depended on to line out in our usual colours looking for justice for our own and not the other side.

    But there will be no justice. Does anyone honestly believe there will be a day served by or a conviction achieved against the Bloody Sunday killers. Not a chance. But they will have a good reason to keep their mouths shut now.

    If you wanted to string victims along and prevent an outbreak of truth telling this is the kind of thing you would do isn’t it. I think the best bet for victims (and I say it knowing what a huge ask it is) is to sacrifice justice for truth.

    Demand immunity for everybody and let those who are willing to tell the truth come forward. Of course the government would never agree to it and others would not be pushing very hard for it either. But it would be obvious then what is going on.

  • “I think the best bet for victims (and I say it knowing what a huge ask it is) is to sacrifice justice for truth.”

    Henry94, I doubt very much if many of the victims will get either.

  • andnowwhat

    Bloody Sunday is emblematic of the relationship between nationalists, the then NI government and the British. There are 2 other cases of innocent Catholics who were shot by the army and which had reports at around the same time as Saville, that are much more open and shut and if justice was truly what is sought, I contend that they should have been first.

    Joshua Rossenberg was on the radio and his contention is that the only way to get a conviction is the highly unlikely situation where at least one of the paras breaks rank. So, why the investigation and possible (failed) trial? Only crimes have trials and I think that is the real point, to call Bloody Sunday what it was, a crime.

    On another note; It’s interesting to see the very same unionists who are objecting to this on the basis of opening wounds etc. are the very same people who are trying to get the current Libyan regime to fork out money for something they were not even responsible for. Mind you, they’re also the same people who keep an old, old wound open every single summer

  • Mick Fealty


    I think that’s pretty close to the truth… I’d add that the very reason they don’t hand out immunity is because it would make them less powerful and they’d get very little return on the deal…

  • Henry94


    I agree as long as the establishments are in charge of it. Immunity may bring an unpredictable element into it as people write or tell their stories.

  • Reader

    Henry94: I suspect the victims on all sides are being played here.
    OK – alternative headline “Bloody Sunday soldiers not to face investigation…”
    Better, or worse?

  • Frankly a waste of time in practical terms and merely a gesture.
    I think it is now a historic fact that these people were murdered. And that is as true on the day after the killing as it is forty years later.
    But up to 30 detectives “investigating” this…..preparing a case…sending papers to DPP…..getting response that too much time has elapsed/death of witnesses/cant get fair trial/minimal prospect of a conviction/not in public interest……etc etc.
    All this does is allow the families to think that something MIGHT happen and perhaps it will make them feel better but its a very expensive, misleading and possibly cruel way to make them feel better.
    And it doesnt really do anything for unionists some of whom are still Bloody Sunday deniers (unreasonable) or protest “whatabout other republican crimes?” (reasonable).

    The plain fact is that in practical terms there is immunity. But this announcement yesterday…..was probably known about for more than a week. But everything has to be choreographed. Is there a link to that handshake perhaps?
    Or just an understanding that everybody gets “played”?

    We live in a world of Bread and Circus.
    MTV Awards….GMac/Wee Rory/Clarke…Titanic…..Giants Causeway Golf Courses….Belfast Night Life…..Northern Ireland 2012……and clipper yachts called “Derry-Londonderry” and a Decade of (Shared!!) Anniversaries.
    Nothing will ever be allowed to seriously challenge the new narrative.
    Not Girdwood…not unionists who wont power share at council level……not ministers appointing their “own”….not victims of violence…not criminal investigations into Bloody Sunday.

  • seamus60

    Another deflection/excuse to drain resources away from cases that are waiting in the queue. It will soon be time for those in power to ask the public do they want the new Hospital or the new inquiry.
    As for the man power and time estimates, surely all the statements are collated by relevance to individual soldiers. Forget about the likes of forensics etc as widgery made sure of that. Even the weapons used on the day were disposed of.

  • Immunity certificates have been around for forty years at least and probably for generations before that – and, despite the three monkeys routine, we can rest assured that they’re still solid currency.

  • seamus60

    fitzjameshorse1745 . On the mark. For Derry peoples mindset, great emphesis has rightfully been afforded to the Bloody Sunday massacre. Martins handshake was always going to be a gamble here. So pre handshake we are awarded 4 school rebuilds by a SF minister with this thrown in for good measures just after it. Real transparency on behalf of the party.

  • Henry94


    OK – alternative headline “Bloody Sunday soldiers not to face investigation…”
    Better, or worse?

    Worse for nationalist outrage. Better for unionist outrage. No difference in terms of long term result.

  • sonofstrongbow

    I welcome the investigation of Bloody Sunday, notwithstanding the predictable emergence of the conspiracy theorists and the ‘still not enough brigade’.

    If this signals a more robust policy on investigating the past than that presently provided by the two-men-and-a-wee-boy tick-box approach of the HET then it is all to the good.

    Hopefully a forensic examination of past incidents will be fully resourced and no obstacles will be placed in the path of those found culpable being put before the courts.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘Saville has dumped a shed load of material into the lap of the HET which probably made impossible for them not to prepare a case against the soldiers concerned.’

    Are you sure about this? The informed comment in the media suggests that the Saville material is not admissible. If it is, surely the plods could assemble a case in far less than four years.

  • John Ó Néill

    The [then] RUC passed on the original Bloody Sunday file to the DPP on 4th July 1972.

    According to the Telegraph Matt Baggott is claiming it will take four years to complete the investigation, despite the fact that so much of the relevant evidence (and a considerable amount of factoids) was already presented and detailed, so exhaustively at Saville. So there isn’t exactly any enthusiasm there, then.

    Due to Saville, the facts are pretty straightforward here – the identity of those who fired the shots is known, the circumstances in which the shots were fired, is known. It may be the case that opening a murder investigation is merely the briefest of formalities to gather the evidence etc as a precursor to bringing prosecutions very quickly allowing the matter to be addressed in court (both for the soldiers and the families of the victims).

    The likelihood, though, is that this is just going to be yet another complete and utter sham.

  • Mister_Joe

    Old Mortality,

    Things admitted to Saville are inadmissible. In other words, a prosecutor cannot say that Soldier A admitted to shooting victim A, so he has confessed and therefore must be guilty. There is nothing to stop the police from examining the admission and going out to find independent corroboration.

  • tapacall. Sadly there will be no justice for the victims of Bloody Sunday, since, even if prosecutions against any/all the surviving murderers, they have effectively got away with it due to their age now, and they got to live their lives out and are just waiting for the end. There’s a contradiction in what the PPS told SDLP’s McDevitt, in that they said there was enough evidence of criminality in the case [presumably using saville records], yet the body of evidence gathered by saville can’t be used due to a legal technicalty so the whole testimonies given there have to be given by the same witnesses all over again. Crazy.

  • Mister_Joe

    danielsmoran ,

    That was the deal from the start, limited immunity, to encourage people to testify.

  • lamhdearg2

    investigation must include part played by marty, says robbo.

  • lamhdearg2

    la-mon?ect,ect,ect,ect,ect,ect,ect, not special enough, those dead not the same, HET will do for them, if it ever get round to them.

  • Mister_Joe


    Those other atrocities, by all terror groups, need to be fully investigated. But, the Saville Inquiry was a special case in that it was state agents who were accused of wanton murder.

  • lamhdearg2

    special case, special dead?.

  • Mister_Joe

    Special dead? No. Special case? Yes.
    I doubt if we can agree.

  • Mister_Joe

    Those inclined to moan about the cost of Saville should understand that that had nothing to do with the relatives of the victims. That was solely down to Saville himself and possibly with those who drew up his terms of reference.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “Those inclined to moan about the cost of Saville should understand that that had nothing to do with the relatives of the victims. That was solely down to Saville himself and possibly with those who drew up his terms of reference.”

    No that was not the problem

    “”There is, however, one major element in this catastrophe that has been largely overlooked – the responsibility of Lord Widgery and his team during the first Bloody Sunday inquiry in April 1972. This was never part of Lord Saville’s remit. Nevertheless, the Widgery report compounded the felony and inflamed bitterness for generations to come. In a Channel 4 television programme entitled Secret History: Bloody Sunday broadcast in 1992, Bishop Daly said: “What really made Bloody Sunday so obscene was the fact that people afterwards, at the highest level of British justice, justified it.”

    This failure also needs to be acknowledged. No system of justice is worthy of its professed principles if, as soon as it is under pressure, its independence and judgement evaporates.”

  • michael-mcivor

    The brit goverment forgot to put the brit army under the terms of the GFA-

    The brits love to lie about the truth but its time for there army killers to be put behind the wire-

  • Mick Fealty

    Old Mortality,

    That may be so, but it will have turned out a lot of new lines of enquiry. Though I certainly wouldn’t gainsay Rosenberg’s view that a conviction might require a defection from one of the soliders.

    Peter Robinson on the politics of partial investigation of the past:

    “I think everybody in Northern Ireland recognises that it’s right that justice is done but for justice to be done to just one side of the community is building up antagonism about the unionist, protestant and loyalist community,” the Minister said.

    “Where is the justice for the families of Kingsmills or Claudy, for Le Mon, for the man who still to this day fights for that census worker who lost her life because she was killed by the IRA?”

    “You can’t simply say we are taking one group of people, they’re important, we are going to spend millions of pounds of getting to the truth about that and ignore the other cases.”

    And it seems he’s been taking his cue from some of the FB chat:

    One of the inquiry’s other findings was that Mr McGuinness was present at the time of the violence and “probably armed with a sub-machine gun” but did not engage in “any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire”.

    Mr Robinson said: “How could you avoid an inquiry into that and say that we’re going to have an inquiry into the Army personnel that were there.

    “The deputy first minister has openly admitted that he was in charge, if that was the case then there has to be an investigation if you’re investigating the Army.”

    Martin, as you might expect, is not that happy…

    Mr McGuinness said he would have no problem co-operating with the police investigation, but rejected claims he was armed with a machine gun that day.

    He said it was clear the PSNI had no interest in questioning him and were instead focused, on what he called, “the murderous activities of members of the parachute regiment”.

    “I totally and absolutely reject that – it didn’t happen, it’s not true,” he said.

    “I didn’t fire a machine-gun, I didn’t even have a machine-gun and that’s where it rests.”

  • son of sam

    It will be interesting to see four years hence,who in the Public Prosecution office will make the final decision as to charges or not.As the present Director apparently represented Martin Mc Guinness in the past,he presumably would have to pass the decision to someone else.

  • Mister_Joe

    son of sam,

    From the BEL Tel:
    A spokesperson (for the DPP) said that when he took up his position as Director last November he had identified Bloody Sunday as one of a number of cases in which there may be a potential conflict of interest.

    She added: “The Director had therefore already determined that he would not be involved in any decision as to whether or not to prosecute in those cases.”

    Read more:

  • Mister Joe. The ones like Greg complainabout the cost are in reality complaining about the Saville probe being set up at all as they resent the verdict of widgery being thrown in the dustbin. Obviously it’s not politic to admit this attitude so they make do with the indirect rant about cost.

  • Mister_Joe


    I accept that that is likely true for some, maybe even many.
    But to harp back to it by them is a waste of time and energy. The money is spent, a sunk cost as the economists term it.

  • I am inclined to fully agree with the sentiment expressed of the decision by prosecutors in Ulster who have spent the past two years considering the findings of the Saville Inquiry, which ruled that the civil rights protestors shot dead in Londonderry in 1972 were the victims of “unjustifiable firing” by soldiers from the Parachute Regiment, and have now decided a murder inquiry is warranted, that it be mad.* Have they nothing better to do?

    If Matt Baggott and the PSNI have any great sense, they will assert themselves and decline to partake in such a farce of a inquiry. Time to move on and leave the past behind, methinks.

    * ….

  • dwatch

    Its only going to cost £10 million, and even if it ends up with no results it will have a long way to go to catch up with costs like trying to find the God Particle. And Professor Higgs states: ‘I have no idea what the God particle is for’

  • Mister_Joe

    He didn’t say that. At least not in the interview shown. Journalistic made-up hype?

  • Robinson is clearly wrong in phrasing the remit of investigating Bloody Sundayas he has on TV just now as ‘investigating the army’ The probe isnt about the army per se, but one company’s actions on a single day. It’s the way he puts it as if the army kills 13 people, you should probe into what everyone was doing at the time. Would PR really suggest that what loyalists were doing while an IRA atrocity was under investigation? Can’t see it somehow. PR managed not to use the words Bloody or Sunday during his tv interview. He instead desbed it as ‘this’ Telling, isn’t it. Could Stormont fall over ‘this’ if Peter and marty cut up rough?

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    The bloody sunday tribunal cost a fortune but it was pretty clear in it’s outcome. If Soldiers did kill people without reason then I fully support an investigation. Following the investigation, if the PPS feel they can bring about a case then fair enough.

    That said, you have to wonder where do you draw the line. We could literally spend the next 20 years and a tonne of money tracing through the past. Is it really worth it? i don’t know to be honest.

  • lamhdearg2

    I fully understand the desire for justice that people are calling for, I fail to understand why this case is put head and shoulders above all others.

  • lamhdearg2

    Robbo’s intervention on this reminds me of the tactic used in the USA senate, where adding an unacceptable rider to a bill, may make it less likely to be passed.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    I know what your saying Lamhdearg and it does seem frustrating. however, the army were brought in to protect people not murder them. If soldiers did indeed open fire on unarmed civilians then they should be brought through the courts. I have no issue with that whatsoever. In temrs of why it’s been given priority. Well, i guess 100’s of millions have been spent on the tribunal so a lot of evidence has been uncovered. For many other murders I guess there is a lot less evidence.

    Personally, I’d be in favour of drawing a big line in the sand. Take a few 100 milion that would be spent on these tribunals and inquests – build some cross-community ventures and start moving forward. I think the vast majority of people understand that a lot of bad s*** happened and we’ll never uncover 1% of the truth. Accept that and move on.

  • lamhdearg2

    “Accept that and move on”, whether or not I share that view, it is not what is going to happen.
    As for “I guess there is a lot less evidence.” could that be because there has not been “100′s of millions “spent or to put it another way, any real effort made to uncover evidence.
    either way its one (use of) law for one, and no (use of) law for the other,
    and one set of dead put above the other.
    “frustrating”, for me doesn’t cover it.

  • chewnicked

    Murderers should be convicted of murder-even if they were members of the British army.

  • seamus60

    Marty and Gerry will hardly be big fans of this announcement. as I`m sure exemption from prosecution certs are as easy to loss as say, “a royal pardon”
    Raymond Mc Cartney on Talkback saying that these soldiers should not have to go to prison over their actions on the day.won`t stand too well with some of the families and is hypocritical anyway when we look at Mc Geough.

  • Mister_Joe

    To add to what lamhdearg2 has been discussing with me, NO special murderers.

  • Mister_Joe

    And maybe I should expand further, I trust that the PSNI will not only be investigating the squaddies in their murder investigation, but, unlike Saville, will also pursue what orders they were given and who issued the orders and what their legal culpabilities are.

  • dwatch

    Unionists will be pleased now that: “Police ‘can have IRA interview”

  • lamhdearg. It’s revealing of this ‘region of a country, not a country itself’ how all the talk since the peace process about the ‘new N Ireland we’re allegedly now enjoying, can be so easily stripped away of all the pretensoins ogf the political and media circus. With the queen’s visit safely out of the way, the cataclysmic event of 40 years ago in the bogside can reach out over the decades to once more show that the ‘new N ireland is depressingly similar to the old one. The dreary steeples are showing themselves again.

  • Mr Joe. The honours list still includes the names of the officers who organised the atrocity, so I’m not indulging in breath holding exercises about the possibility of Ford or Wilford.ending up in the dock. The establishment looks after it’s own and the footsoldiers get done.


    Personally, I’d be in favour of drawing a big line in the sand. Take a few 100 milion that would be spent on these tribunals and inquests – build some cross-community ventures and start moving forward. I think the vast majority of people understand that a lot of bad s*** happened and we’ll never uncover 1% of the truth. Accept that and move on.

    I often wonder what the outcome of a referendum specifically on this matter would be…..

  • seamus60

    Mister_Joe A very good reason why no para`s will face prosecution. Should any para find themself as the sacrifisal lamb, they`re memory might be inclined to make a sharpened recovery.

  • lamhdearg2

    Old soldiers pulled before the courts, with irish nationlists baying for there blood, and Ulster unionist defending them, that sould go down well in todays Help for Hero’s Britian.
    This may turn out to be good for Unionists

  • lamhdearg2

    add on,
    and all the while the people who killed the most, sit atop.

  • seamus60 The real reason for those unionist politicians venting their fury about saville isn’t the cost [which they like to claim] but the fact that they had a fair idea the govt wouldn’t have set up the inquiry just to repeat the widgery verdict, so it’s the scrubbing from the British State record verdict on Bloody Sunday, of Widgery’s sham that Gregory, Jeffrey, Peter et al, were so hacked off with. They wanted that lie to remain the definitive British view of the events.

  • andnowwhat


    And what does it say about the mentality of those unionists who objected to Saville and to this investigation. They say to leave it in the past and yet it is they who harp on about Gerry Adams and Martin Mc Guinness’ past.

    As I said before, there are other clear cut cases where British soldiers out and out murdered Catholics, completely without threat and I’d like to see those soldiers in the dock and spending the rest of their days on Her Majesty’s pleasure, depending on how this confusing issue about whether the GFA applies to state forces or not.

    I’d love to know if unionists feel that the soldier who murdered Majella O’ Hare and his accomplices in the lie should do porridge.

  • andnowwhat

    I see that the cost of Saville has come up again. Does anyone remember how much of the cost was down to sub cases involving individual soldiers and the MOD’s frustrations of the enquiry? I think Lionel Hutz might have mentioned it some time ago.

  • lamhdearg2

    I see its all gone quite over there on the parades thread,
    folk dont want to try to answer the unanswerable?

  • tacapall

    “I see that the cost of Saville has come up again”.

    Those same people have no problems with the cost of repairing and clearing up after the annual frenzy of destruction after the 12th July bonfires and parades or the various grants from the various councils for street parties and beacons celebrating some geezer in a wig from Holland defeating the King of England a few hundred years ago. Its got nothing to do with money its just pure hatred and bigotry.

  • andnowwhat


    I’m also sure that most of them had no bother with the millions spent on the diamond jubilee last month. Personally, I’ve no bother with the money spent on the jubilee as I know its important to monarchists.

    But tie the reaction to HET findings on Billy Mc Greanery and Majella O’ Hare or the total fuck up Al made of the Mc Gurk’s and Loughinisland investigation and the truth begins to reveal itself about how little they have moved in their heads.

    Saville said that Marty was not anywhere near the vicinity when the Bloody Sunday massacre took place so what the hell is Robo on about?

  • tacapall

    andnowwhat Robinson and Sammy Wilson would be better off telling Nationalists about his relationship with Noel Little who was charged with arms trafficking and associating with criminals involved in terrorist activities that were connected with the DUPs private army “The third force” who along with the UDA and UVF robbed banks, imported hundreds of weapons into this country some of which were later used to murder innocent Catholics, Little was a former UDR member and one of Robinson, Paisley’s and Wilsons trusted lieutenants in the third force, he was arrested in connection with the importation of the hundreds of weapons above but was released without charge.

  • lamhdearg2

    you seem to know lots regards whom did what, and knew whom, riddle me this, whom has a beard, run a killing machine ( la-mon), but will not have an enquiry into his actions.

  • andnowwhat. It tells you all you need to know about their double standards at least. They see the demogaphic tide going out on their contrived statelet and probably wish that their predessessors in 1921 had left tyrone to the Free State and they’d now be sitting pretty with a substantial majority. I can well predict the fudging that they would indulge in over Majella’s killer. this lot are depressingly predictable in their pavlovian responses.

  • tacapall

    Lamhdearg away back to your cave in ballygobackwards and read up on recent history, what was the Third Force’s intentions when they along with their fellow loyalist paramilitaries, imported those hundreds of weapons which included RPG rocket launchers and warheads into the country, do you believe they were just gonna get photographed waving them about for tv crews. Conspiracy to murder and actually murdering someone carries the same life penalty.

  • sonofstrongbow

    I hope the polis are monitoring this site. With so much evidence in the ken of some of the posters here I expect charges of withholding information or aiding offenders to follow.

    Or perhaps the Intelligence Operatives have already trooped down to their local barracks with their copious files in hand?

  • tacapall

    sonofstrongbow for a little titbit, why dont you get a copy of last weeks sunday world or even just google Noel Little im sure his Arms for guns negotiations with a South African diplomat which led to him being on remand in a French prison for two years..

  • lamhdearg2

    “Lamhdearg away back to your cave in ballygobackwards ”

    cave,cave, I should be so lucky,8 of us shared a cardboard box, as the housing Executive gave all the houses to Irish nats.

  • Mister_Joe

    LOL lamhderg.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Ah! You get your directions from the Sunday World. (edges out of the room trying not to make any sudden moves)

  • tacapall

    SOS Well I very much doubt anyone who i’ve mentioned will sue either the sunday world or all the other various news outlets who have published anything similar or alike from what I’ve said above. Why dont you ring any of them up theres two of them Unionist politicians and ask them directly if any of its untrue.

  • andnowwhat

    I dropped the ball yesterday. A much better explanation of the extraordinary hypocrisy is Gregory Campbell. He’s throwing a fit of joy over the Boston tapes but is up in arms about the Bloody Sunday murder invesatigation. Can anyone please explain what logic is at play here or is it simply the obvious.

  • andnowwhat. GC is a serial mediabotherer. He can’t seem to be able resist giving his threepenny worth on any issue which he betrays his bias every time without fail. Other DUP seem to manage without constantly renting themselves out.

  • seamus60

    danielsmoran. Some more political poisturing from Robinson. But hey something has to make them look good for each of their sides, in view of the fact they`re doing very little else.

  • seamus60 In Robbo’s case though, his high flown rhetoric is usually blown out of the water before the proverbial kettle is boiled[as mentioned here], as often by himself as any of his party.You’d think he’d catch himself on.