Belfast Telegraph

Bloody Sunday families will welcome news

By Liam Clarke

News that some of the paratroopers who took part in Bloody Sunday may now face criminal charges is certain to be welcomed by the families of those who died that day.

Although there was never any doubt in the minds of nationalists that State and Army accounts of what happened on Bloody Sunday were false, the publication of the Saville Report last June stated clearly that those who died were innocent and some of those who played a part in their deaths told lies in the aftermath of the atrocity.

The hurt caused to families of victims and the injured was compounded by the publication of the Widgery Report in 1972, which cleared soldiers of responsibility.

Regarded by many as a whitewash, its credibility lay in tatters when the Saville Report was eventually made public.

Key findings of the Saville Report concluded that "the firing by soldiers of 1 Para caused the deaths of 13 people and injury to a similar number, none of whom was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury".

The report also found that "despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers".

Importantly, the accounts of several soldiers were rejected by Saville who claimed "some of the soldiers involved knowingly put forward false accounts in order to seek to justify their shooting".

Saville also confirmed that while members of the Official IRA fired a number of shots on Bloody Sunday, it was members of the Parachute Regiment that fired the first shots resulting in the deaths of 14 innocent people.

Crucially, Saville said "the immediate responsibility for the deaths and injuries on Bloody Sunday lies with those members of the support company whose unjustifiable firing was the cause of those deaths and injuries", adding that "none of the casualties was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, or indeed was doing anything else that could on any view justify their shooting".

On hearing about the report last year, Colonel Richard Kemp, who has commanded all British troops in Afghanistan, said his immediate feeling was that guilty soldiers should be jailed for a long time.

He added: "I think that the actions we have heard described are much more like the actions of Nazi stormtroopers than British paratroopers."

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