Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Henry Patterson: For many, the Bloody Sunday Saville Report has fallen short

The report addresses some of the demands of the victims' families. But there will be disappointment that the terms 'murder' and 'unlawful killing' don't appear

Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Relatives of those shot dead on Bloody Sunday wave to crowds after reading a copy of the long-awaited Saville Inquiry report, outside the Guildhall
Relatives of those shot dead on Bloody Sunday wave to crowds after reading a copy of the long-awaited Saville Inquiry report, outside the Guildhall
Relatives of those shot dead on Bloody Sunday wave copies of the long awaited Saville Inquiry report in the air outside the Guildhall
Prime Minister David Cameron tells MPs in the House of Commons that the Saville Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killings found the actions of British soldiers was 'both unjustified and unjustifiable'
Crowds gather to hear the findings of the long-awaited Saville Inquiry report into Bloody Sunday, outside the Guildhall
People watch Prime Minister David Cameron on a giant screen making a statement to the House of Commons regarding the findings of the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday, outside the Guildhall
Crowds gather to hear the findings of the long-awaited Saville Inquiry report into Bloody Sunday, outside the Guildhall
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
A relative of Bloody Sunday victim Jackie Duddy is comforted by Martin McGuinness as she marches from the Bogside area of Londonderry to the Guildhall to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives, to gain a preview of the Saville Report on June 15, 2010
A young Fr Edward Daly (now Bishop Daly) carries a blood-soaked hankie as he leads a group of men trying desperately to carry John 'Jackie' Duddy to safety. Duddy (17) was the first fatality of Bloody Sunday after being shot from behind by paratroopers
Bloody Sunday. January 1972
Alana Burke who was eighteen when she was run over by an armoured personnel carrier on Bloody Sunday.
William McKinney, killed on Bloody Sunday.
Paddy Doherty, who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
The start of a grim day in Derry. Civil Rights marchers make their way through Creggan. They defied a Government ban and headed for Guildhall Square, but were stopped by the Army in William Street. 31/1/1972
Bloody Sunday. 30/1/1972
Bloody Sunday. 30/1/1972
Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery in his room at the Old Bailey as he looks through his report on the "Bloody Sunday" shootings
Michael McDaid who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
An injured man receiving attention on Bloody Sunday.
Bloody sunday in Derry 1972 when members of the parachute regiment opened fire on a banned Civil Rights march through the city.
Bloody Sunday 1972
JAMES WRAY IN HIS HOME IN THE BOGSIDE DERRY HOLDING THE COAT WITH BULLIET HOLES IN THAT HIS SON ALSO CALLED JAMES WRAY WAS KILLED ON BLOODY SUNDAY
Bloody Sunday. A number of civilians arrested by the Army are marched in a line, with their hands on their heads, through the Bogside. 31/1/1972
Hugh Gilmore who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Bloody Sunday. 30/1/1972
Bloody Sunday. Funeral. Mrs Ita McKinney, 9 months pregnant cries behind the hearse carrying her husband James from St Mary's, Creggan. 2/2/1972.
Bloody Sunday. 30.1.1972
Bloody Sunday. Funerals. 2.2.1972
Bloody Sunday in Derry 1972 when members of the parachute regiment opened fire on a banned Civil Rights march through the city.
General Sir Robert Ford, Britain's Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland, pictured on July 3, 1972
Bloody Sunday when members of the parachute regiment opened fire on a banned Civil Rights march. PACEMAKER PRESS
Bloody Sunday: Up to 20 soldiers still face being formally questioned by police for alleged murder, attempted murder or criminal injury during the notorious incident
30th January 1972: An armed soldier and a protestor on Bloody Sunday when British Paratroopers shot dead 13 civilians on a civil rights march.
A scene showing British paratroopers near Glenfada Park in Derry where Bloody Sunday took place.
A scene showing a British paratrooper near Glenfada Park in Derry where Bloody Sunday took place.
A man receiving attention during Bloody Sunday.
Soldiers taking cover behind their sandbagged armoured cars during Bloody Sunday
St Mary's Church, on the Creggan Estate, during the Requiem Mass for the 13 who died on 'Bloody Sunday' in Londonderry.
Jim Wray who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
William McKinney who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Kevin McElhinney who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Paul Doherty in front of an image of his dying father Patrick Doherty who was shot on Bloody Sunday.
Hugh Gilmore (third left) seen clutching his stomach as he is shot during Bloody Sunday.
Lt Col Derek Wilford, the former commander of the members of the Parachute Regiment involved in the Bloody Sunday shootings
Bloody sunday in Derry 1972 when members of the parachute regiment opened fire on a banned Civil Rights march
Bloody Sunday - when members of the parachute regiment opened fire on a banned Civil Rights marc. PACEMAKER PRESS
PACEMAKER BELFAST - FLASHBACK - Bloody sunday in Derry 1972 when members of the parachute regiment opened fire on a banned Civil Rights march through the city.PICTURE CREDIT PACEMAKER PRESS
John Young who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Gerald Donaghey who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Gerard McKinney who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Patrick Doherty who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Michael Kelly who was killed on Bloody Sunday.
An injured man receives treatment on Bloody Sunday. Survivor and campaigner Johnny Duddy has died aged 87
Lord Saville
A Republican mural is seen on the side of a house in the Bogside are of Derry, the scene of the 'Bloody Sunday' shootings. 2005
Scenes from 'Bloody Sunday' in Londonderry, Northern Ireland
A man receiving attention during the shooting incident in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, which became known as Bloody Sunday, January 31, 1972.
Fr Daly waving a bloody handkerchief as he and several others carry the fatally wounded Jackie Duddy, 17, past British soldiers on January 30, 1972, known as Bloody Sunday. Picture by Stanley Matchett
The Bloody Sunday Anniversary. Among the marchers were Native Americans who attended the event because of their sympathy with Irish Nationalists. 30/1/85.
IRA gunmen in Derry during a Bloody Sunday commemoration. Pacemaker Press Intl. 29 Jan. 1978
IRA gunmen in Derry during a Bloody Sunday commemoration. Pacemaker Press Intl. 29 Jan. 1978
Bloody Sunday Commemoration. IRA Gunman displays M60 Machine Gun on streets of Derry. Pacemaker Press Intl.29 Jan. 1978.
Commemoration of Bloody Sunday march in Derry. Gerry Adams and Martin Maguiness are pictured. Pacemaker Press Intl. 30/1/83.
A youth is arrested at gunpoint by a Paratrooper in Derry on Bloody Sunday Picture by Fred Hoare

It is most unlikely that the Saville Report, published yesterday, will draw a line under Bloody Sunday.

In the House of Commons discussion of the report, Harriet Harman claimed that it spoke for itself, but running to more than 5,000 pages and 10 volumes, it would seem more likely that it will unleash a sadly predictable reaction from many quarters, who will find sufficient in its findings to justify the flogging of traditional hobby horses.



David Cameron's summation can't be expected to be congenial to many of those who have expended much time and effort to establish a premeditated plan by senior politicians and members of the armed forces to shoot rioters on 30 January 1972. His statement that the report established that neither the UK and Northern Ireland governments nor the Army countenanced the use of illegal force is a direct challenge to the self-justificatory narrative of Sinn Fein. And the finding that Martin McGuinness was probably in possession of a sub-machine gun on the day – although it was not used – is a reminder of the common IRA practice of using rioters as cover for deadly attacks on the Army.



Saville's clarity on the innocence of those killed and his forthright criticisms of the soldiers in the Support Company who ignored their training and discipline in opening fire will do something to address the demands of the families of the victims, as will the Prime Minister's apology yesterday. But the fact that the report does not use the terms "murder" or "unlawful killing" will disappoint some of the families.



Bloody Sunday is now commonly referred to as a tragedy for the city as well as the families, and in the sense that the action of the soldiers accelerated the descent into violence which was to make 1972 the bloodiest year of the Troubles, with 497 deaths, that is undoubtedly true. But at the time and since, it has not been experienced as a common tragedy.



Many Protestants accepted the Widgery report and blamed the marchers and the victims. Yesterday BBC Northern Ireland interviewed one of the few Protestants to turn up for the reception of the report in Derry's Guild Square. She told the interviewer she had not wanted to be there but felt an obligation to witness it on behalf of Protestant victims of IRA violence. She still bears the scars of a no-warning car bomb placed in the Londonderry village of Claudy by the IRA on 31 July 1972 in which nine people died. As she pointed out, these deaths were largely forgotten and she was typical of many Protestants who feel Saville represented a massively costly investment in the creation of a hierarchy of victims.



I was 24 at the time of Bloody Sunday. As an undergraduate at Queen's University Belfast, I had participated in the marches that marked the beginning of the civil rights movement. By 1972, as a postgraduate in England but with an active political interest in unfolding events in Northern Ireland, I had witnessed the pace of events being increasingly determined by intensifying communal strife and paramilitary violence.



On the day of the march I was over to visit my mother and watched the unfolding tragedy on her TV. I still vividly remember the profound shock I felt as the first shots were fired and then the mounting toll of deaths was broadcast. It is clear, despite an almost ritualised history of confrontations between a hard core of "Derry Young Hooligans" and the Army, that many of the thousands who attended the march were also totally unprepared for more than the usual aggravation.



By the beginning of 1972 it was obvious that the future of the Unionist government of Brian Faulkner was hanging by a thread as the British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, and his closest colleagues considered a radical initiative to counteract the massive Catholic alienation from the state that had been produced by the introduction of internment without trial the previous August. The abolition of Stormont and the introduction of direct rule from London were on the cards before a shot was fired on Bloody Sunday, and although the deaths accelerated its introduction they also served to undermine the positive effects in ending Catholic alienation which had been hoped for. They gave a major fillip to recruitment for both the Official and Provisional IRA.



But the intensity of attacks of the Provisional IRA had been increasing markedly in the weeks leading up to the march. Three days before the march, the Derry Provisionals had shot dead RUC Sergeant Peter Gilgunn, a 26-year-old Catholic father of one, and David Montgomery, a 20-year-old Protestant. They were the first policemen to be killed in the city during the Troubles. The Provisionals' bombing campaign had reduced much of the city centre to a building site. The two main working-class areas in the city, the Bogside and the Creggan, had become effective "no-go" areas for the security forces.



Despite this, the Cabinet's Northern Ireland committee had noted at a meeting on 5 January 1972 that Lord Carrington, the Defence Secretary, had stated that "the Bogside and the Creggan should only be entered by troops on specific information and for a minimum of routine patrolling".



This was indicative of the policy of Army restraint which had been followed in Derry from the weeks after internment until Bloody Sunday and which had been criticised by local traders and unionist politicians. The reasons why this was brutally set aside by the Paratroops was one of the central issues which Lord Saville and his colleagues had to address, together with the truth or otherwise of the belief, strongly held by nationalist Ireland, that the responsibility for the deaths extends to the highest level of the British state.



The British and Northern Irish governments still face the daunting challenge of how to avoid Northern Ireland being constantly dragged back into competitive and divisive struggles over victimhood. The Eames-Bradley report on dealing with the past itself became something to be squabbled over. Yesterday David Cameron ruled out more open-ended and costly enquiries. Some way of addressing the multitude of victims of the Troubles still needs to found.



Henry Patterson is Professor of Politics at the University of Ulster

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