“Nail bombs were planted in the pockets of the lifeless 17-year-old Gerald Donaghy. A journalist at The Times even floated the idea that perhaps the British Army had killed nobody that day and that the IRA had thirteen bodies hidden in a refrigerator somewhere.”
By Joe Dwyer
On Sunday 30 January, 1972, the British Army’s 1st Parachute regiment opened fire on unarmed civilians marching against internment in the Bogside of Derry. The day would become known as ‘Bloody Sunday’. Yet another bloody day in the long history of Britain’s interference in Ireland.
Bloody Sunday shocked the world. By the day’s end, twenty-seven people had been shot. Thirteen lay dead. And within four months a fourteenth would die from his injuries.
The establishment media immediately sought to set the narrative. It was claimed: the Army was responding to gunfire. The IRA had opened fire first. The dead had been rioting.
Nail bombs were planted in the pockets of the lifeless 17-year-old Gerald Donaghy. A journalist at The Times even floated the idea that perhaps the British Army had killed nobody that day and that the IRA had thirteen bodies hidden in a refrigerator somewhere which they had then placed around Derry.
The cover-up and misinformation campaign was so thorough that, the Sunday Times’ journalist, Murray Sayle ultimately resigned from the paper frustrated with its refusal to publish his investigation into the truth of the shootings.
It was not until June 2010 that the British establishment finally accepted that those killed on Bloody Sunday were innocent. The Saville Inquiry proved to be the biggest investigation in British legal history. Interviewing over 900 witnesses over seven years and costing a reported £195 million.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, told the commons “There is no doubt, there is nothing equivocal, there are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.”
The people of Derry, and Ireland as a whole, already knew this. But now the British establishment had admitted it.
The report concluded that the 1st Parachute regiment opened fire without provocation, shot fleeing civilians, and caused the deaths of fourteen people. The report stated that British soldiers had then concocted lies in their attempt to hide these facts. The report also accepted, contrary to previous assertions, that no stones and no petrol bombs had been thrown by civilians before British soldiers shot at them, and that the victims were not posing any threat.
However, as was once said, ‘British Justice’ is an oxymoron and in the years since the British government have done everything in their power to obfuscate and block truth and justice for the Bloody Sunday families and many other families besides.
There can be no doubt that current British Government’s proposed amnesty policy, as outlined in their Command paper of July last year, represents a set of drastic and negative steps.
The far-reaching proposals would block investigations, civil actions, legacy inquests, and criminal prosecutions for all victims of the conflict. We await draft legislation to reflect these draconian proposals. These proposals are a radical departure from the Stormont House Agreement of December 2014. ‘Stormont House’ represented an agreed approach on legacy mechanism and was endorsed by both the British and Irish Governments and the majority of political parties.
Alongside this government’s reckless rhetoric surrounding the protocol and Brexit, the Tories are seeking to also drive a horse and cart through the delicate politics of legacy in the north of Ireland.
The current amnesty proposals have been rejected by every political party on the island of Ireland; plus the Irish government, the Assembly in the north, the Victims Forum, the Human Rights Commission, the law society, the leading churches, and multiple leading academics and lawyers.
Internationally it has been condemned by UN Special Rapporteurs, the European Commissioner for Human Rights, and senior members of the US Congress. Legislatively the proposals even go beyond the amnesty issued by General Pinochet to state forces in Chile.
The amnesty has got to go. Not just for the Bloody Sunday families but for all survivors and victims of the conflict in the North of Ireland.
That is why this Thursday will see a London vigil to mark the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday which will double up as a protest against a Tory amnesty for state forces.
- The vigil is being organised by the ‘Terence MacSwiney Commemoration Committee [London]’ and will take place at 1pm, on 27 January, at Parliament Square. Confirmed speakers so far include Gerry Duddy, on behalf of the Bloody Sunday families, and John Finucane MP, with further speakers tbc.
- Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org if require any further information.