So the PSNI are going to open an investigation into Bloody Sunday. So, in theory at least, no one is safe from possible future prosecution. Richard Dannett, former Chief of the General Staff in the British Army notes:
Soldiers gave evidence [to Saville] in good faith not fearing later prosecution. Is that good faith now to be abused? And 2010 the Nationalist community in Londonderry seemed to accept the Saville findings thus apparently closing that sorry chapter of Northern Ireland history.
In bloody conflict, little is pretty. Bloody Sunday was an ugly chapter but it is closed chapter, and closed it should remain. Today Northern Ireland is moving forward – surely eyes in the Province should be looking ahead and not in the rear view mirror?
It strikes me as funny (peculiar rather than ha ha) that no one wants a comprehensive deal on the past until its one of theirs likely to get hauled in front of the beak. But this reinforces what we have already seen in the case of Gerry McGeough that, potentially at least, no one is above having their collar felt for past crimes.
A former commander of the Anglian Regiment Richard Kemp spoke on Morning Ireland this morning, and referred the licence agreement available to those already convicted of crimes. But famously, there was no arrangement for ‘on the runs’ or those who have yet to be convicted for troubles related.
The investigations the PSNI say are to be long and complex, so don’t hold your breath on an early result. But it’s a useful reminder that the protections on people who have thus far escaped criminal investigations might not in the future, no matter who they are.
Richard, Meghan, are you watching?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty