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Bloody Sunday: Bishop Daly - justice has finally been done

By Daniel Barrenger

On Bloody Sunday he was a young priest, waving a bloodied white handkerchief as the body of the dying Jackie Duddy was carried through the Bogside. Edward Daly went on to become Bishop of Derry and an instrumental figure in the peace process.

Yesterday he said that, after nearly 40 years, justice had finally been done.



"We've waited all these years for the truth to emerge," he said. "It's a good day for justice. At the time I said mass murder had taken place, and I still believe that today. Perhaps more people now believe that happened."



The first person to respond to the publication of the long-anticipated Saville report was David Cameron, who had been given the report a day ahead of publication. In a Commons statement, Mr Cameron – who was just five years old at the time of Bloody Sunday – said the inquiry had proved none of the casualties posed any threat to British troops.





"The Government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces. And for that, on behalf of the Government, indeed on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry."



In Derry, families of those who died gathered outside the Guildhall to hear Lord Saville's conclusions. Tony Doherty, whose father Paddy died on the march, said Lord Saville had vindicated the victims.



"It can now be proclaimed to the world that the dead and the wounded of Bloody Sunday, civil rights marchers, one and all, were innocent, one and all, gunned down on their own streets by soldiers who had been given to believe that they could kill with perfect impunity," he said.



"When the state kills its citizens, it is in the interests of all that those responsible be held to account. The British people need to know; the Irish people need to know; the world now knows."



John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was found by the report to have been shot by soldiers without justification, said the report had vindicated the families and it would now be the verdict of history for all time.



Mr Kelly produced a copy of the Widgery report, which had largely exonerated the soldiers only months after the killing, which he ripped up in front of the crowd.



Senior military figures admitted that serious mistakes had been made. General Sir Mike Jackson, who served in the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday, said: "The Prime Minister made a fulsome apology and I join him in so doing. Northern Ireland is a very different place from what it was 40 years ago, and I ask that Lord Saville's report is seen in that context."



The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir David Richards, said the 13 civilians who died that day were innocent victims.



"The report leaves me in no doubt that serious mistakes and failings by officers and soldiers on that terrible day led to the deaths of 13 civilians who did nothing that could have justified their shooting," he said.



"We must never forget the tragic events of Bloody Sunday. In the 38 years since that tragic day's events, lessons have been learned. The way the Army is trained, the way it works and the way it operates have all changed significantly.



"We should also remember that the overwhelming majority of the military personnel deployed over 38 years in Northern Ireland conducted themselves with utter professionalism, restraint and humanity."



Unionist politicians said it was important to remember that Bloody Sunday was not the only atrocity of the Troubles. Lord Morrow, a Democratic Unionist member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, said there was a danger of creating a "hierarchy of victims".



"In South Armagh, for instance, there were over 300 murders which today remain unsolved," he said.



He said that, while Lord Saville had been able to spend almost £200m, the historical inquiries team "which looks at all the issues that have gone on in Northern Ireland over the past 35 years" had only £30m at its disposal.



Lord Trimble, the former Ulster Unionist leader and Stormont first minister, said 14 innocent people had been killed; the killings were wrong, and mistakes had been made in the planning and conduct of the operation.



But it was in the context of a serious terrorist campaign already launched in a mature democracy, and the Provisional IRA had known that their object would not be achieved by democratic methods. "It would be perverse if the events of Bloody Sunday were used to justify those unjustifiable events that the Provisional IRA launched in the 1970s," he said.



Reaction: 'Each and every victim is totally exonerated'



General Sir David Richards



Chief of General Staff



"The report leaves me in no doubt that serious mistakes and failings by officers and soldiers on that terrible day led to the deaths of 13 civilians who did nothing that could have justified their shooting. We must never forget the tragic events of Bloody Sunday. In the 38 years since that tragic day's events, lessons have been learned. The way the Army is trained, the way it works and the way it operates have all changed significantly."



Mark Durkan



Social Democratic and Labour Party MP whose constItuency includes Derry



"Each and every one of those victims... are all absolutely and totally exonerated by today's report, as are all of the wounded. These men were cut down when they marched for justice on their own streets. But not only were their lives taken, their innocent memory was then interned without truth by the travesty of the Widgery tribunal."



Harriet Harman



Acting Labour leader



"For the 14 families whose loved ones were killed, for the 13 injured, for the soldiers and their families, for all those whose lives would never be the same again, this report has been long-awaited."

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