Bloody Sunday report launched
A report commissioned by the Bloody Sunday Trust and compiled by the Limerick University-based Professor Dermot Walsh was released to the public by Bishop Edward Daly on Wednesday 5 January in the Bloody Sunday Centre in Derry.
The report, titled `The Bloody Sunday Tribunal of Inquiry - A Resounding Defeat for Truth, Justice and the Rule of Law', originally produced in January 1997, is arguably the single most significant piece of research leading to the announcement of the second Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
The report, now released in booklet form, examines in detail the conduct of the Widgery Tribunal, raising questions as to the possible bias that was displayed by the Lord Chief Justice, its composition, its location, its terms of reference and the haste with which it conducted its proceedings.
Focusing particularly on the discrepancies contained in the statements made by British soldiers in the immediate aftermath of Bloody Sunday and their subsequent evidence to the Widgery Tribunal, Professor Walsh uncovers evidence of systematic alterations of statements to ensure that criminal prosecutions would be avoided and concludes: ``The Tribunal was unduly concerned to protect the Army against harsh criticism'' and that, together with the appearance of bias, ``is more than sufficient totally to destroy any prospects of the Tribunal satisfying the very high standards required of a Tribunal of Inquiry''.
A spokesperson for the Bloody Sunday Trust commented that with the opening of the second Bloody Sunday Inquiry in March 2000, it is vital that people take an active interest in the conduct of the Inquiry.
The spokesperson continued: ``The Widgery Tribunal, as Professor Walsh's excellent report demonstrates, was an insult to the families, the wounded and the entire people of Derry. The best way to ensure that the second Bloody Sunday Inquiry provides both truth and justice, and ultimately a resolution to Bloody Sunday, is through constant vigilance. This report, by highlighting the discrepancies that discredited the Widgery Tribunal, will enable people to do just that.''
The report is available at the Bloody Sunday Centre in Derry and in local bookshops priced £4.99.