Release Saville report now

(for the Derry Journal)

It is crucial that the new Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson ensures that the Saville Inquiry findings into Bloody Sunday are published without any further delay.

The families were assured by Mr. Paterson’s predecessor, Shaun Woodward, that he could envisage no obstacles preventing its publication as soon as a new government was installed following the election.

The sooner Owen Paterson can offer the families, the injured and the wider Derry community such an assurance, the better. As such, he should indicate a publication date as a matter of urgency.

The families were rightly concerned that the British government may get advance access to the report and, perhaps, control the release and content of the report.

The families have made it clear that they are not looking for special treatment. All they want is equality and justice at this crucial time. They simply want to be treated fairly.

Bloody Sunday, more than any other single day, shaped the Troubles that claimed thousands of lives and divided entire communities.

The people of Derry know what happened on the streets of the Bogside on Bloody Sunday. The British establishment, too, knows what happened. But what we are still waiting to hear is why it happened.

The truth of Bloody Sunday is known to the people of Derry. It is something we have known for 38 years.

It was a massacre carried out in broad daylight in full view of hundreds of eyewitnesses, including scores of independent media witnesses.

Irish people, North and South, have known for years that unarmed civil rights demonstrators were murdered in cold blood by British paratroopers. Yet, at the highest level of the British political and judicial establishments a crude cover up was concocted. This cover-up, conspiracy of silence, call it what you will, continues to this day.

The people of Derry, knowing the hurt that Bloody Sunday caused, trust that Lord Saville and his team will robustly discredit such outrageous cover-ups.

The facts boiled down to the simplest level are that 13 unarmed civilians were shot dead by the so-called elite of the British military.

The families of the dead and wounded are not seeking recrimination, simply the truth about what happened on January 30, 1972.

Their concern is to establish the truth and to close this painful chapter once and for all.

Indeed, one can’t help but be struck by the dignity of the families in their quest for the truth.

Thirty eight years on, the relatives of those gunned down on Bloody Sunday, backed by the people of Derry, remain steadfast in their demands: we simply want truth, justice and, most important of all, closure.

We can only hope that justice, at whatever level, will prevail.

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