Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bloody Sunday Inquiry verdict: 1972 killings "unjustifiable"

After twelve years of investigation, the UK Bloody Sunday Inquiry today concluded that the killing of fourteen people by the British Army in 1972 was "unjustifiable."

The three-judge Panel of Inquiry, led by Lord Saville of Newdigate, first convened in April 1998.  The panel was proposed by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to review the findings of the original Panel of Inquiry, delivered in the Spring of 1972 after only eleven weeks of investigation.

According to the summary in today's Irish Times:

  • “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.”
  • The accounts of soldiers to the inquiry were rejected, with a number said to have “knowingly put forward false accounts”.
  • Five soldiers fired in the belief that no-one in the area they were firing at posed a threat.

. . .

  • “We consider it likely that Martin McGuinness was armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun on Bloody Sunday and we cannot eliminate the possibility that he fired this weapon after the soldiers had come into the Bogside”.
  • Report concludes: “He did not engage in any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire”.

Source:  Main Findings of Bloody Sunday inquiry, Irishtimes.com, June 15, 2010.

Bloody Sunday is the common name for the events of January 30, 1972, during which the British Army shot into a crowd of civil rights demonstrators in Derry (Londonderry), killing 13 and injuring another 13 (one of whom died later). 

The ten-volume, 5000+ page report is available online at http://report.bloody-sunday-inquiry.org/.  The Panel's website, which contains a large amount of primary source material as well as commentary, is available at http://www.bloody-sunday-inquiry.org/.

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