Last word on Bloody Sunday?

Today, nearly four decades after the terrible events on Bloody Sunday in Derry, Ulster, the British government has finally come clean, somewhat. The Saville report, 12 years and £190m in the making, acknowledges what had been pretty much self-evident to most of the world outside of Great Britain since 1972: that there was no justification for the killing of 14 demonstrators that day, all accounted for as unarmed now but for many years described as belligerents and provocateurs in the official narrative. In releasing the report, the new British Prime Minister David Cameron, standing before the House of Commons, chose not to "defend the indefensible":

"There is nothing equivocal. There are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong....What happened should never, ever have happened. The families of those who died should not have had to live with the pain and hurt of that day, and a lifetime of loss. Some members of our armed forces acted wrongly. The government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces. And for that, on behalf of the government—and indeed our country—I am deeply sorry.”

Advertisement

At the same time, Cameron was quick to note some evidence of IRA return fire against British troops, that the report denied a government-military conspiracy to provoke the violence (with an eye to drawing the IRA into the daylight in response) and, somewhat paradoxically given the length of time it took to acknowledge wrongdoing, that it discounted an official coverup of the possible criminal acts of British paratroopers in Derry that day.

"Justice delayed is justice denied" is a legal precept that can be traced to the Magna Carta. The survivors of the victims of Bloody Sunday will be looking for a meaningful response in light of the Saville report from one of the world's oldest judicial systems. Despite the damning declarations of this last and presumably final word on Bloody Sunday, there remains a question of the political will in England to see that justice is, finally, done.

Kevin Clarke


 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

 10.17.2018 Pope Francis greets Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago before a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 16. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
“We take people where they are, walking with them, moving forward,” Cardinal Blase Cupich said.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 20, 2018
Catherine Pakaluk, who currently teaches at the Catholic University of America and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, describes her tweet to Mr. Macron as “spirited” and “playful.”
Emma Winters October 19, 2018
A new proposal from the Department of Homeland Security could make it much more difficult for legal immigrants to get green cards in the United States. But even before its implementation, the proposal has led immigrants to avoid receiving public benefits.
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 19, 2018
 Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, then nuncio to the United States, and then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, are seen in a combination photo during the beatification Mass of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J., Oct. 4, 2014. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
In this third letter Archbishop Viganò no longer insists, as he did so forcefully in his first letter, that the restrictions that he claimed Benedict XVI had imposed on Archbishop McCarrick—one he alleges that Pope Francis later lifted—can be understood as “sanctions.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 19, 2018