Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bloody Sunday

The Saville Enquiry has reported at last. On Bloody Sunday, 30th. January, 1972, British soldiers committed murderous acts. They fired on unarmed protesters. They continued to fire as the wounded attempted to crawl away and save themselves.

They lied when they gave evidence about these events and what they did. There were no attacks on them, no provocation, to justify their actions.

Thirteen people were killed immediately and one died later from his wounds. Fourteen people were wounded.

A statement by Tony Doherty, whose father, Patrick, was killed:

"When the state kills its citisens it is in the interests of all that those responsible be held to account. It is not just Derry, or one section of the people, but democracy itself which needs to look out." (Guardian 16th. June, p2)

A copy of the 1972 Widgery report, now proved to have been a whitewash, "a travesty", was torn to pieces on the steps of the Guildhall in Derry after Lord Saville's conclusions became public.

"What happened was unjustified and unjustifiable," said the Prime Minister to the House of Commons.

"It was wrong."

The Parachute Regiment has brought disgrace on itself and on all of us.

So who was in charge?

Guardian, 17th. June, 2010

by Henry McDonald

The civil rights activist who led the Bloody Sunday march has expressed his disappointment that the Saville report failed to criticise the man who took the decision to deploy paratroopers in Derry.

Ivan Cooper said "overall responsibility" should have been levelled at the army's most senior officer in Northern Ireland at the time of the massacre, Major General Robert Ford, then commander of land forces.

"I saw General Ford in William Street shouting at the troops 'Go Paras, go,'" said Cooper.

"If you examine the evidence during the tribunal that stated that General Ford wanted action against the so-called Derry Young Hooligans, he is the officer who had overall control of the operation. I firmly believe he should have been held accountable for the action of his troops. After all, it was he who, as commander of land forces, was ultimately responsible."

Cooper, a Protestant, was an independent MP and peace activist at the time of the killings, and was a vocal advocate for Protestants and Catholics to fight together for civil rights.....

Cooper said that Ford should have received the same criticism in the report as Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford, the officer in charge of 1 Para on the day. Saville was damning of Wilford's conduct.

"The general ordered the paratroopers into Derry even though they had just returned from operations in Aden where they already had a reputation for being gung-ho and ruthless. They should never have been used and Ford should have known that," said Cooper

The Saville report, published yesterday, concluded that there was "no evidence to suggest that the use of lethal force against unarmed rioters, who were not posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, was contemplated by General Ford".

That assessment, Cooper said, was the most disappointing aspect of what was an otherwise historically significant report.

He also disputed Saville's assertion that Martin McGuinness, at the time the IRA's number two in the city, had probably been carrying a sub-machine gun on Bloody Sunday.

"All my life I have been opposed to Martin McGuinness but on the day I saw him and he was not carrying a sub-machine gun. He certainly wasn't hiding it in his trousers because I would have seen that too. I don't know why Saville said he was probably armed with a sub-machine gun but I certainly did not see him with any gun," he said.