US President Barack Obama has told British prime minister David Cameron that his Bloody Sunday apology was “historic” and would contribute to reconciliation in the north.
The two leaders spoke by telephone exactly a week after Mr Cameron apologised on behalf of the British government for the deaths of 14 civilians massacred by British troops.
They were speaking ahead of the G8 summit this weekend but a White House spokesman said they also spoke about Mr Cameron’s response to the findings of the Saville Inquiry.
“The president noted the historic nature of the prime minister’s statement last week on the inquiry into the tragic events of Bloody Sunday, commending its contribution to Northern Ireland’s reconciliation efforts,” he said.
Mr Cameron had said he was “deeply sorry” for the “unjustified and unjustifiable” killings by paratroopers during a 1972 civil rights march in Derry.
His apology was greeted by applause by the people of Derry as it was relayed on television screens in the city last Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, a British soldier has been reprimanded by army chiefs following a right-wing rant claiming that the paratroopers had been justified In opening fire on marchers on Bloody Sunday.
“The Saville report is a lot of s****, Fusilier John Allison wrote.
“The soldiers were right to shoot the ***** on Bloody Sunday.
He went on to describe members of the Parachute Regiment who had carried out the killings as “legends”.
Mr Allison had also sought to canvas votes for the neo-fascist British National Party on his web page.
VICTIM COMES FORWARD
A former priest beaten by a notorious paratrooper who shot dead four of the Bloody Sun ay victims is being urged to testify against the multiple killer.
Terence O’Keeffe told the Belfast-based Irish News the beating he and others received at the hands of ‘Soldier F’ was “the most terrifying experience of my life.”
The soldier is known to have killed Michael Kelly, Bernard McGuigan, Patrick Doherty and another victim -- almost certainly William McKinney -- as well as wounding two others.
The inquiry judges dismissed any suggestion that he opened fire in a state of dear or panic.
Prof O’Keeffe, a retired professor of philosophy, is one of the few surviving witnesses able to testify 10 Soldier F’s brutality.
Speaking for the first time after the former paratrooper was singled out for criticism in the Saville report released last week, he recalled being beaten by him when he informed soldiers he was a priest and wished to attend the wounded and dying.
He described how the lance corporal spat into a prisoner’s mouth, forced others to keep their faces tight against a heater and assaulted several more of those arrested.