Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On Bloody Sunday and the Saville Report

So today is the day of the Saville Report publication on Bloody Sunday, when 27 men where shot in Derry/Londonderry on the 30 January 1972. 13 died immediately.

These are the bare facts. All the rest of what happened on that day is hotly disputed conjecture.

I'm not going to the add to this conjecture. I'm just going to make a few points about the report,without second guessing the its conclusions.

Some people are saying, "Why single out Bloody Sunday? Why not have a commission about every event of the Troubles?"

Firstly, this wasn't like any other event. There was no other time when so many (presumably) innocent civilians were shot by what was supposed to be their own army.

Secondly, the people of Derry/Londonderry already had one commission, the Widgery Report, which was a complete whitewash. This has led to a lot of understandable hurt in the city. Even loyalists acknowledge that.

I would love a commission on The Troubles as a whole. Why did so many people die? Why did some bombs go off and others didn't? Did informers kill the informers and leave their bodies in ditches? How did the loyalists get the technology to set off car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan, skills which they never utilised again?

But you look at the £200 million spent on the Bloody Sunday, and wonder if it would be worth it. So many lawyers growing fat on our money. People say we might have a South African style "Truth and Reconciliation Committee." But I don't trust people here to tell the truth. We're too bitter. Many of the events happened a long time ago and human memories are faulty. Many of the main protagonists are dead.

So lets leave it at this. I'm glad the people of Derry got their commission and I hope they get the results they want and deserve. I've heard the relatives talking about dead sons and brothers and cousins on the radio today. They talk about the events of Bloody Sunday as if they were yesterday and the events are still red raw.

But I must disagree on one point. A few are calling for the soldiers to be jailed. I don't want to see any soldiers jailed. I can fully understand why the relatives want this. But it may lead to more riots. It may lead to more deaths and hurt. It will mean people asking why Martin McGuinness, commanding officer of the Derry brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican army is not prosecuted for his crimes. We must look at the bigger picture.

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