‘No more open inquiries’ - British govt
‘No more open inquiries’ - British govt

The British Secretary of State has told the Westminster Parliament in London that there should be no more open-ended investigations into the past conflict.

Owen Paterson was speaking during a debate on the controversial Bloody Sunday Inquiry, which was the longest of its kind in legal history.

Mark Saville’s report into the deaths of 14 people, who were shot at a civil rights march in the Bogside area of Derry in January 1972, was delivered in June, 12 years after the inquiry was set up in 1998.

According to Mr Paterson, such an inquiry should never be allowed again. “As my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister has said, there should be no more open-ended and costly inquiries,” he said.

But the comments angered Labour’s former British Secretary, Shaun Woodward, who said inquiries were vital in building peace.

“So let us imagine that the Secretary of State has taken this decision regardless of the circumstances that there should be no more public inquiries, and let us give him the benefit of the doubt as to why he has not been able to convey that information to the family of Pat Finucane, or to the people of Ballymurphy, or Omagh or Claudy,” he said.

“To those of us in authority, let us never confuse the price of truth with the value of truth.”

Another former Direct Ruler told MPs the peace process may not have happened without Saville’s investigation.

Paul Murphy said: “I haven’t the slight doubt that, had we not tackled the issue of Bloody Sunday in the way that we did, there wouldn’t have been a successful peace process.”

During the debate, which was attended by members of the Bloody Sunday families, the SDLP’s Mark Durkan questioned whether General Michael Jackson was “at the heart of a syndicated deceit” when he compiled fellow officers’ accounts of the shootings.

Mr Durkan referred to evidence from Jackson, a Parachute Regiment captain at the time of Bloody Sunday, and later the Chief of Staff of the British Armed Forces, to the Saville Inquiry.

He said Jackson had compiledaccounts by the commander of 1 Para, Colonel Derek Wilford, as well as company commanders and the battalion intelligence officer immediately after the shootings.

“But in evidence none ot those officers remembered any such thing happening.

“So the question arises of whether he came up with the whole narrative.

“Was he the webmaster at the heart of a syndicated deceit that then be camethe propaganda version,to use the words of the Prime Minister in his conversations with Lord Widgery, that went out through British embassies, that went out through the British media on the night of Bloody Sunday and in the days after, and again in the Widgery Tribunal?”


In related news this week, the PSNI sought to prevent the broadcast of a documentary this week on the bombing of Claudy, County Derry, in 1972.

The PSNI said it feared that its broadcast could interfere with the administration of justice or breach individual confidentiality.

However, Mr Justice Treacy did not allow the application, claiming it was based on what he called pure speculation.

He said: “Nobody has ever attempted to do this before and no authority has been put before the court anywhere in the UK or indeed elsewhere to support this.”

He described it as an unprecedented application which, if it had succeeded, would have significantly extended the boundaries of existing case law.


Meanwhile, a team searching for the remains of those who disappeared during the conflict are believed to have recovered the body of west Belfast man Peter Wilson. The IRA denied involvment in his disappearance in 1973.

The find was made just hours after digging began in the seaside village of Waterfoot in County Antrim.

“Peter has been missing for 37 years. For 37 years we have missed him and have often wondered what happened,” the family said.

“Today, on All Souls’ Day, his body has been found and while that does not tell us what happened at least now we will be able to give him a Christian burial.”

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