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Unjustified and unjustifiable

The British and Irish media are full of the Bloody Sunday report, and justifiably so. We have witnessed the extraordinary sight of a Conservative Prime Minister standing at the despatch box and admitting that British soldiers killed 13 unarmed civilians in Derry on 30 January 1972. I haven't had a chance to read more than the summary and skim one chapter of Lord Saville's report, but it is thorough and forensic: the Paras shot without justification, and lied thoroughly, and had the full backing of the state.

The House of Commons was the setting for the statement yesterday. It was one of many arms of the state that failed in 1972. Hansard's report of the debate the day after records the refusal of the Speaker to allow the one member actually present on the day to give her account. It doesn't record - but the Guardian did - her physically taking out her frustration on the Home Secretary of the day (of whom the Guardian's description as "placid" should be taken as a euphemism for "drunk"). I would not normally use this adjective of her, but her behaviour was rather mild under the circumstances.

The British state is not good at holding its own agents to account when they use deadly force. (Back in the mid-90s I got into some controversy when defending the continued imprisonment of another Para who had been convicted of murdering a civilian; since he was subsequently acquitted on appeal, I should not comment further on that particular case.) We shouldn't be under any illusions that the Saville Report will lead to justice, but at least it has produced truth.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 17th, 2010 03:21 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing that Hansard report. It's absolutely shocking.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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