The Irish News of Monday 31 January 1972 was dominated by the events in Derry
of the previous day, Bloody Sunday.
``13 die in Derry's `Bloody Sunday' - Army open fire into crowd'' read the
``Impartial Inquiry demanded'' said the second main story, and it listed
leading churchmen such as the then Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Conway and
Bishop Farren of Derry as well as ``leading politicians, political groups and
other organisations'' all calling for the United Nations or the Council of Europe
to investigate the killings.
On Tuesday of this week, the Irish News front page headline, on the day after
the second inquiry into the Bloody Sunday massacre began, said ``Relatives'
28-year inquiry wait over''.
It is not being cynical to state clearly that this is as far as the families
of those killed and those injured have got; they have forced the British
government to accede to their demands for an inquiry.
Nor is it cynical to say that over the past 28 years many of those who
initially called for that impartial inquiry into the Bloody Sunday deaths left
the families largely on their own to pursue the Truth and Justice they demanded.
Disappointingly, the Saville Inquiry is far from an impartial inquiry, having
been set up under the auspices of the British government, yet the relatives are
hopeful and it is that hope we must nurture and support.
We must also hope that Saville, unlike his predecessor Widgery, will leave no
stone unturned in his endeavours to get to the heart of the Derry killings.
The array of legal figures, the input from Judges Somers and Hoyt, from New
Zealand and Canada respectively, the massive trawl for evidence and witnesses and
the mass of documentation indicate that if nothing else, this inquiry is going to
But the question still remains. Will the MoD be made accountable to the
inquiry and if not, will the inquiry make sure it is.
Moreover, will the meetings held involving British Army top brass, British
cabinet ministers (including the then British Prime Minister Edward Heath) and
Stormont politicians be opened to the inquiry?
After all, Bloody Sunday was no accident waiting to happen. It was a massacre
waiting to happen and someone gave the order for it to go ahead.
Christopher Clarke, QC for the inquiry, said in his opening statement that the
inquiry has searched every continent ``bar Antarctica'' in its efforts to find
evidence and witnesses.
If this inquiry does not produce an outcome that is seen to be the justice
demanded by the relatives of the 14 victims, then the cold air of Antarctica will
nothing like the cold air nationalists will breath on the British government.