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The tenth and last volume of the Blood Sunday Report is lengthy (541 numbered pages) but doen't really add much substance. The first 36 pages are a two-part appendix, a longish memo about how and to a lesser extent why the Inquiry was set up and then a listing of the lawyers involved; and there then follows another appendix containing Saville's opening statement, 41 rulings made by the Tribunal in the course of gathering and hearing evidence, and eight court judgements which over-rode the Tribunal's own rulings. The last three pages are a short bibliography.

The first of these elements is by far the most interesting, explaining the Inquiry's operations and in particular the difficulties of identifying witnesses (especially former soldiers) after thirty years, and the intricacies of the process of giving evidence. Indeed, most of the second appendix chronicles, in tedious detail, how Saville's initial (probably over-ambitious) intentions that all, or almost all, hearings should happen in public in Derry, and that the soldiers involved should be identified by surname rather than by cipher, were rolled back by the courts. Saville gets in a barb at this towards the end of the opening memo, when he defends the cost of the whole operation:
There were various judicial reviews and some subsequent appeals. The length and cost of the Inquiry was further increased by moving the sittings from Londonderry to London and back to Londonderry, in consequence of an order by the Court of Appeal.
So it ends.

Well, after 5030 pages, what do I think of it all?

First of all, it was very definitely a worthwhile exercise. The cost was huge, but the cost of failing to address the events of Bloody Sunday in the first place was even greater. It is no exaggeration to say that Bloody Sunday was the single most politically significant act of violence during the entire period of the Troubles. The awful fact that 13 unarmed civilians had been mown down in the streets was exacerbated by the state's attempts to excuse that awful fact, including the previous inquiry which was set up in its immediate aftermath. On the whole, Saville is discreet about the conduct of the Widgery Inquiry, and almost completely silent about its findings, but at one point the mask slips:
[Appendix 2.8, § 19:] It is clear that the present Inquiry has been instituted because the previous Inquiry did not succeed, for whatever reason, in achieving the general objective of inquiries under the 1921 Act. This objective is, as Lord Justice Salmon said in his report, to restore public confidence where a crisis in that confidence has occurred (see 1966 Cmnd 3121 at paragraph 28). Indeed, there is a substantial body of responsible public opinion to the effect that the Widgery Inquiry, so far from restoring public confidence, compounded the crisis. We consider that our ability to restore confidence will be undermined, unless we can form a wholly independent judgment, based on the facts before us, on the question of anonymity – and indeed on any other questions that we have to consider.
Nobody who reads the 5030 pages of the Saville Inquiry, particularly when compared with the 39 cursory pages of Widgery (dissected by many others in the years since) can doubt that it is a sincere effort to restore that confidence. The whining of the lawyer for the murderous soldiers that Saville 'cherry-picked' the evidence simply is not sustainable if you actually read even the initial summary, let alone the entire document.

There is, all the same, room for dispute of some of the findings. I'm not comfortable about the nail-bombs found on Gerard Donaghey's body; I'm not wholly convinced about the exoneration of the RMP (Saville spends 11 pages in Appendix 2.39 complaining that the victims' lawyers bungled their examination of this issue); I'm surprised that Saville did not include his devastating conclusions on the illegality of the arrests in the main upfront summary (§3.120 would have been an appropriate place); I think Brigadier McLellan is let off too lightly, and I also agree with my old friend Niall Ó Dochartaigh, who has written both academically and in newspaper articles about Saville's failure to examine more contextually the role of General Ford. More generally, Saville does not examine - though he drops heavy hints about his views - the overall military culture where you could wander around the Bogside and take pot-shots at civilians in the full knowledge that the moral, legal and political forces of the British state would unconditionally stand behind your actions. I was struck on several occasions that commanding officers would cover up their subordinates' disobedience by claiming, falsely, that it was all in accordance with their orders. This was true of Lieutenant 119 claiming that Soldiers E, F, G and H advanced to Glenfada Park on their murderous rampage on his instruction, rather than their own initiative; it's true of Major Loden claiming that all the firing was carried out on his supervision; and it's true of Brigadier McLellan, claiming in the teeth of the evidence that Colonel Wilford had accurately and precisely carried out the orders he had been given to go into the Bogside in the first place. If the consequences had not been so awful, the loyalty of these officers to those they commanded would be rather laudable.

As mentioned back in Volume VIII, while I appreciate the conclusions on the four senior officers, it would have been good to have expanded that section also with conclusions on the individual soldiers, which are nowhere tabulated. I do that here as follows, more or less in the chronological order adopted by Saville:




Corporal A or Private B

Damien Donaghey (deliberately)
John Johnston (injured by shoot-through or ricochet)

Private R

Jackie Duddy

Lance Corporal V

Margaret Deery

Lieutenant N

Michael Bridge

Private Q

Michael Bradley

Sergeant O, Private R and/or Private S

Patrick McDaid
Pius McCarron

Private T or possibly Private S

Patrick Brolly

Lance Corporal F

Michael Kelly

Corporal P, and possibly Lance Corporal J and/or Corporal E

William Nash
John Young
Michael McDaid

Private U

Hugh Gilmour

Private L or Private M (ordered by Colour Sergeant 002 and/or Corporal 039)

Kevin McElhinney

possibly Corporal P or Lance Corporal J

Alexander Nash (shot while tending to his dying son William Nash)

Corporal E

Patrick O’Donnell

Lance Corporal F or Private H

William McKinney

Joe Mahon

Private G or Private H

Jim Wray (shot a second time as he lay dying)

Michael Quinn

Lance Corporal F or Private G

Joe Friel

E, F, G or H

Daniel Gillespie

Private G

Gerard McKinney
Gerald Donaghey

Lance Corporal F

Bernard McGuigan
Patrick Doherty

Patrick Campbell
Daniel McGowan

Obviously a good day's work for Lance Corporal F and Private G, who between them killed at least five and maybe seven of the thirteen fatalities, and wounded another two to six. They will, of course, never be prosecuted; nobody will.

I have a couple of other complaints about the presentation of the evidence.

i) There is no map of the overall sequence of events, and while some of the sectors are mapped out in detail, others are not. For that level of cartographical detail you have to go to the Guardian, whose plotting of the fatalities I reproduce here:

This map of course lacks the time dimension. The first fatality was Jackie Duddy, at top right, in the courtyard of the Rossville Flats; then the six near the Rossville Street barricade; then the four in and around Glenfada Park; and finally the two to the south of the Rossville Flats, shot at long range from Glenfada Park. (I considered dotting in the locations of the wounded as well, but my graphic skills are not up to it; there were two at the very beginning near William Street to the north of Columbcille Court, six in the Rossville Flats courtyard, only one at the barricade, five in Glanfada Park North and two more to the south of the flats at the end.)

ii) While the website heroically includes all the text of the report, hyperlinked to the relevant testimony where appropriate, the actual search function on the site is pretty poor - doesn't seem to include the body of the report, for instance - and it is almost impossible to drill down to find particular nuggets, particularly in the very long documents submitted to the Inquiry by the lawyers. In addition, while apparently the DVD (which I realise I must now buy) does include audio and video files from the day, these have not been put online and are therefore not accessible to the wider public.

iii) The final volume refers (Vol.X, A1.1.90) to
the creation of a virtual reality model of the relevant part of the city [which] contained a photographic panorama of the Bogside as it was in the late 1990s. However, the user could switch to another version in which artists’ impressions of the buildings that had been present in 1972 had been superimposed on the modern panorama. The virtual reality model was used to assist many witnesses. They could use it to identify particular locations and could also, using a stylus on the screen, mark “still” versions of the panorama with arrows or lines in order to pinpoint a particular place. The marked versions could then be preserved for future reference. When in use, the virtual reality images were displayed on the public screens.
A lawyer friend, who knows Saville personally, tells me that he too has seen extracts from this virtual reality system; it would be a shame if it has now been packed away never to be seen by the public.

These are minor quibbles. The report is a triumph of investigation. Its publication was greeted by whining from the Tory right and from some Unionists. (Though not, to do him credit, Lee Reynolds.) But the fact is that British soldiers had slaughtered their fellow citizens, and a truthful accounting was needed. No state handles the violence of its own agents well, and the disgrace of the Widgery report showed how badly the UK can deal with it. (English readers may by now be thinking of the more recent cases of Ian Tomlinson and Jean-Charles de Menezes.) The truth sometimes hurts, especially if it comes 38 years late. But that can be a good thing too.

Volume I | Volume II | Volume III | Volume IV | Volume V | Volume VI | Volume VII | Volume VIII | Volume IX | Volume X and conclusions


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 7th, 2010 09:14 am (UTC)
I was always puzzled by the hostility of Private Eye to the Saville Inquiry, and can only put it down to the same knee-jerk hostility to lawyers making money that led them to repeatedly make the bizarre innuendo that the Human Rights Act was some kind of nepotistic plot to make Cherie Booth money.

Edited at 2010-08-07 09:14 am (UTC)
Aug. 7th, 2010 09:43 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting all this, and for reading the entire Saville Enquiry so that we don't have to!

Fascinating, and often grim reading.

It is, as you say, an extremely positive thing that this has happened, for there finally to be a truthful accounting.

What I wonder, and seriously doubt, is whether anything has changed. That is, is the British or inded any other government capable of proper accountability at the time for the actions of its agents, be they police or armed forces? I think the depressing evidence of cases such as De Menezes, Bahar Moussa and the other victims of British brutality in Iraq, the Wikileaks in Afghanistan, and many other such cases is no, and especially not in a situation of armed conflict.

That is probably not the function of the peculiar wickedness of a particular government or a particular country, but is something essential to the nature of the state.

Truth 38 years late may be the best we can get.
Aug. 7th, 2010 10:34 am (UTC)
At the very least the military involved should all be charged with something like perverting the course of justice and for some; perjury. Murder or manslaughter would be hard to pull off with the uncertainty over who shot whom but the cover up afterwards must surely be actionable.

Of course I understand that it probably won't be but the scale and scope of the actions taken after the event and the damage caused to the people and problems of Northern Ireland are considerable.
Feb. 3rd, 2012 05:53 pm (UTC)
A well put together review but from the language you use it is clear where your political opinion was before you read the report - so you would have to admit that seen in that context any review you give of a report which supported your view could be seen as biased? So showing Saville to you would be a bit like preaching to the converted - you were reading what in many ways you wanted to hear & your review would've been much more effective if you could have restrained yourself from using phrasing like "whining of the lawyer for the murderous soldiers" or revealing you are Guardian reader - never a good idea...
You tell us that the cost was worthwhile - 190 million pounds. 190 million pounds of tax payers money & 12 years. Hundreds of people gave evidence regarding an event that happened 30+ years ago & happened in the most confusing of circumstances - & it would've been hard to find one person amongst those hundreds who didn't have their own interests or agendum. Also you have to remember the background to the report itself - in the wake of the Agreement when Westminster was very aware that the nationalist/republican population of Northern Ireland had to be held into the ceasefire. Like a greasy salesman Blair had to give them a little of what they wanted to keep his legacy intact. So the 'findings' of this report were mostly pre-determined - & THAT'S what Private Eye get to lampoon...
My point is that your review is a biased opinion of a biased & predictable report - so what real worth has either?
In the words of Bono regarding Sunday Bloody Sunday "this is NOT a rebel song!!"
Feb. 3rd, 2012 06:34 pm (UTC)
Well, I hope that exercise in reading my mind made you feel better. I note that you have no substantial quibble with the actual findings that British soldiers shot a couple of dozen of their fellow citizens without justification.

I write these reviews for my own satisfaction, not for yours; if anyone else finds some worth in my efforts, that's an added bonus.
Feb. 3rd, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC)
Isn't it convenient the Troll's name is Anonymous.
Feb. 4th, 2012 03:20 am (UTC)
Names on here are a joke - I know no more about you than you do about me so what's the point? Hardly a worthwhile critism.

No, I don't deny that Para 1 opened fire & there were innocent people killed in a tragic event in our history...but that was an established given before the Saville inquiry & was not the Saville inquiry's objective.

I agree with you that the events of that day were probably the most politically significant - although not the bloodiest in terms of loss of life - & so like I said the outcome of the report was of great political significance itself...& only the very naive would refuse to see that it was pre-determined. So let's say that everything that happened on that day occurred in the way you believe it did...the Saville report does not legitimate the victims families claims it robs it of any credibility it had - don't you see that?

Hundreds of people gave evidence, few without a particular interest in the outcome & all speaking about an event over thirty years ago. An event which causes such high emotion & controversy to this day & at the time was a confusing mess. Many testimonies were utterly conflicting & even after 12 years it was impossible to establish exactly what happened. If this had been any other investigation about any other event the whole thing would've collapsed before it got started due to the period of time that had passed & the unreliability of the witness testimonies. It is only that it was an exercise in giving Tony Blair what he wanted that it was undertaken - it was secure his sell to the nationalist community into the peace process. The price they paid was the credibility of their cause...what? do you think the British government wouldn't play such a trick?

You infer much about my own political 'bias' from my comment & so I will clarify that for you - as far as "Bloody Sunday" goes I think its probably best to apply the old method of getting to the truth...listen to both sides & somewhere in the grey murky area inbetween you will find the truth.
As for who I am? I'm Northern Irish & a combination of Ulster-Scots & Irish Catholic & I hate to see my fellow countrymen not being honest with each other. The fact is that Bloody Sunday was a tragic mess which wasn't as black & white as some would like to make it.
Feb. 4th, 2012 07:45 am (UTC)
Thank you for your reply.

I want to be very clear about anonymous posts here. I do not make a secret of my identity, and this blog is my home on the internet. If people turn up and yell through the windows of my front room, which is effectively what you are doing here by commenting anonymously, I do not necessarily extend them the same courtesy that I would to someone who identifies themselves. If you want a real dialogue with me, my email address is not difficult to find.

I do recommend you actually read the Saville report. I think you will find that a lot of your criticisms are addressed in the text, particularly the difficulty of finding the truth after thirty years. If you are already convinced it is pre-cooked, it may not change your mind, of course, but there is no harm in trying.

Your main point, which you could have made perhaps more effectively without sidetracking into making accusations about me, is that the Saville enquiry was set up by Blair as part of the price of Nationalist buy-in to the peace process, and that this therefore discredits its results. I agree with the first part of that observation but not the second. However, if you want a reasoned discussion (and I'm not sure that you do) you will have to conduct it differently.

For the record, I did not say anything at all about your own political 'bias' in my previous reply, and certainly did not "infer much" (though I think you may have meant "imply" rather than "infer"). We all have to take responsibility for our own words, but that also means starting with what is actually written rather than what you imagine may have been in the mind of the writer.

Edited at 2012-02-04 07:46 am (UTC)
Feb. 4th, 2012 06:41 am (UTC)
We've had Godwin's Law, and I would like to propose, and doesn't it sound right, Bono Law: Anyone who quotes Bono automatically loses the right to post on the internet for 72 hours.

I think it's firm but fair and adresses a real need.

Feb. 4th, 2012 02:04 pm (UTC)
I don't think you read my response - I said that you seemed to have inferred from my comment my political standing...much as I 'inferred' from your review. Are you 'implying' that I don't know the difference?

As for how much I've read of the Saville report; I would say quite a bit. & yes, it does speak of the difficulties it faced with regards to evidence - my point is that those difficulties made it impossible to give any real clarity to what happened that day, to the point that had this been a court case it would have collapsed due to inability to say with any true confidence what exactly took place. The Saville report was a way of handing to the deads' families what they wanted in an attempt to shut them up & give Martin & Gerry something to sell the agreement with. The Saville report does not give the truth about that day - it only attempts to legitimise one groups version of it for political gain. The testimonies which didn't fit in with that 'truth' were disregarded, the statements of the PIRA informer who detailed McGuinness' whereabouts & actions on that day was deemed inadmissible due to the fact that he could appear publicly to give evidence, the testimonies of witnesses who supported his statements were dismissed because they didn't 'fit', nor does it mention anywhere the evidence given that witnesses were approached by the PIRA & instructed on what to say when giving evidence to the original inquiry.
The truth is that there are that many different versions of that day that no one - no matter how many legal minds & money you throw at it - will ever know exactly what happened that day...but like I said, I don't believe it was black & white - there were other factors involved.

I'd just like to say that I certainly never intended an aggressive tone in my comment or any of my responses...assertive yes, but not aggressive. & in my previous response I accept that you didn't make the accusations I was referring to - I guess I was just trying to answer all that I'd read & so for shorthand attributed the remarks to you. I certainly haven't (& never will) resort to abusive name calling...but I accept you aren't responsible for other comments & its quite funny really. Troll? lol - brilliant. As for the U2 comment I really must apologise for that - but I defend my actions by pointing out that it was a quote from before Bono came out as asshole. The reference was that the song was used for the closing credits of Jimmy McGovern's 'Bloody Sunday' & I always found that quite ironic. Also, it was an attempt to show you that I had a bit of a sense of humour - that & the Guardian comment (I mean The Guardian? Really?) & illustrate the tone of what I was saying - I certainly wasn't shouting...if I had been I'd have written THE WHOLE THING IN CAPITAL LETTERS!!!

I would ask you that you perhaps read it again applying a softer tone to the writer & seeing her as not someone with a political bias but one with what she thinks is a healthy cynicism.

Apologies for any offence caused.
Feb. 5th, 2012 03:18 pm (UTC)
My turn to apologise for slow response - it has been a busy couple of days.

I accept your apology. We will have to agree to differ about the extent to which the report's findings are valid. If you read all my entries you will see my take on Saville's approach to the evidence in general and Martin McGuinness in particular. But I guess we must leave it there.
Feb. 4th, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, & the reason why my post was 'anonymous'? I don't have an ID here as I don't have a page...I'm not 'in the club'. Yes, I could've used my Facebook ID but I'm kinda suspicious enough about FB without throwing it around the net. I found you're review totally by accident and it sounded interesting - I'm always keen on hearing someone else's take on something like that.
My name is Carrie.
Feb. 5th, 2012 03:20 pm (UTC)
I understand your reasons for posting anonymously. But I hope you understand that that puts a stronger burden on you to prove good faith by adopting a reasoned approach in your comments.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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