Belfast Telegraph

Bloody Sunday Saville Report 'records the truth'

The Saville Report that exonerated the victims of Bloody Sunday has "put the truth on the record", Justice Minister David Ford has said.

The Alliance leader told the Assembly that the report which ruled that British paratroopers had opened fire without justification on civil rights marchers in Londonderry in 1972, killing 14, had eased decades of pain for their relatives.

His comments came after Mr Ford apologised to families of Bloody Sunday victims in March, before the report's release, after he was criticised for calling the Saville Inquiry "pointless" in a leaked email.

But he has told the Assembly: "I believe Lord Saville's report on Bloody Sunday to be a comprehensive one, providing the opportunity to put the truth on the record, and at the same time help heal the wounds suffered by the families over the last 38 years.

"The report undoubtedly raises questions on how Northern Ireland deals with its past, and how we as a society can move forward.

"While these issues are primarily for the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and OFMDFM (Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister) to consider, I will ensure that the Department of Justice plays its part in contributing to the promotion of reconciliation and of a shared future.

"I would hope and expect that the crucial role played by the Historical Enquiries Team and by the Police Ombudsman is recognised and supported by the NIO, who retain the strategic lead on issues arising from the past."

Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney asked if Mr Ford would be seeking a report from the Public Prosecution Service on the Saville Report, but the minister said the question of prosecutions was one for the prosecution and police services, rather than his department.

The minister was also asked by both Mr McCartney and the SDLP's Foyle representative Pat Ramsey if he would make a formal statement on the report to the Assembly, following Prime Minister David Cameron's blunt address to the Commons where he said the troops' actions were indefensible.

Mr Ford said: "I entirely agree with the assessment of Saville that was made by the Prime Minister, I don't need to add any words to what his assessment was."

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