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Waving from the windows

Mark Devenport | 18:05 UK time, Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Stroke City, as Gerry Anderson famously dubbed it, looked different but sounded familiar today. The reason - the whirr of the helicopter rotor blades overhead which I recognised as a constant accompaniment to covering disturbances in the city in bygone years. However today the chopper belonged to the media, not the security forces and the atmosphere wasn't riotous, but a bizarre mixture of carnival and anticipation, as people gathered in the sunny Guildhall square.

I analysed the potential fall out for our news outlets here. But in truth the images of the day stick in my mind more than any of the many words spoken. The relatives and their representatives had been locked into the Guildhall so as not to pre-empt David Cameron's unveiling of the report to the wider world. However they beat the embargo in their own way, by appearing at the windows, waving ecstatically, and holding copies of the reports with their thumbs up. So even before the Prime Minister began to speak, the message seemed clear.

The Saville report doesn't ever use the word "unlawful" to describe the killings. However the clinical way in which it describes soldiers killing civilians who posed no threat, and its precision in ascribing certain shootings to specific soldiers is striking. The report says that some soldiers "knowingly put forward false accounts in order to seek to justify their firing". In one rather long winded but particularly damning passage, the report concludes that "In the case of those soldiers who fired in either the knowledge or belief that no-one in the areas into which they fired was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, or not caring whether or not anyone there was posing such a threat, it is at least possible that they did so in the indefensible belief that all the civilians they fired at were probably either members of the Provisional or Official IRA or were supporters of one or other of these paramilitary organisations; and so deserved to be shot notwithstanding that they were not armed or posing any threat of causing death or serious injury. Our overall conclusion is that there was a serious and widespread loss of fire discipline among the soldiers of Support Company."

That phrase "deserved to be shot notwithstanding that they were not armed or posing any serious threat" is pretty chilling when you think about it.

Whether prosecutions now follow is a matter for the Public Prosecution Service, who will know that whatever decision they take will be closely scrutinised by politicians at Stormont and Westminster. It struck me that if the much vilified "On The Runs" bill had not been dropped by Peter Hain back in January 2006 it would have provided the solution to the PPS's dilemma in as much as it proposed extending an amnesty to members of the security forces serving during the troubles. But the bill was binned, and the PPS will now have some hard thinking to do.

On the topic of the Deputy First Minister, which I referred to in an earlier blog, the Saville report finds that Martin McGuinness was probably armed on the day with a Thompson sub machine gun - an assertion Mr McGuinness has tonight denied. Unionists may return to this paragraph in the future, but for now the image that remains is of those hands waving from the Guildhall windows and family after family emerging to pronounce their loved ones innocent.

Comments

  • 1. At 7:57pm on 15 Jun 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 2. At 8:16pm on 15 Jun 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:

    Mark

    Is this blog to be renamed the Widgery Diaries? Don't suppress the truth; set the truth free!!!

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  • 3. At 8:43pm on 15 Jun 2010, eyeswideopen1 wrote:

    Today goes down in history when the people of derry found justice for thier loved ones. Tony Doherty, whose father Paddy Doherty was shot dead near Rosville Flats on Bloody Sunday,said:
    "The victims have been vindicated". "The parachute regiment have been disgraced... their medals of honour have to be removed".
    "Widgery's great lie has been laid bare".
    The world now knows what the law abiding people of derry have known from that fateful day, thier loved ones were innocent. The families have achieved what they set out to achieve: the vindication of their loved ones. The finger of responsibility for the deaths on bloody sunday points soley to the Parachute regiment.
    The nationalist people salute the families for the leadership they have shown to others in Ireland and across the world in the fight for truth and justice. I feel humbled today to live on this island with such couragess people. You have shown a determination and spirit that will inspire the generations to come.
    God bless you all.

    Eyes wide open

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  • 4. At 10:00pm on 15 Jun 2010, ManOfPie wrote:

    Mark,

    Instead of actually composing another post, I'm just going to get straight to the point:

    "This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain"

    This seems to be the standard. What a waste of time.

    Love, PieMan

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  • 5. At 10:24pm on 15 Jun 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:

    4. ManOfPie

    This standard only applies to the truth about Bloody Sunday. The usual what abouters are allowed to post fiction while the truth is suppressed!!!

    SET THE TRUTH FREE MODERATORS

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  • 6. At 00:02am on 16 Jun 2010, ManOfPie wrote:

    Mark,

    I particularly enjoyed tonight's Spotlight program.

    Eamonn McCann summed up Gregory Campbell with a simple 2-worded term "sectarian disgrace." I almost clapped when I heard it. I was fascinated by the Rev. Lattimer, a truly inspirational individual (albeit a religious one! tut tut). If we had a lot more people like him on all sides I believe Derry could really be a special all-inclusive, embracing city.

    I'm going to stop now, embittered by the "This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain" policy. If I choose to continue posting I'm going to have to keep comments short for fear of seeing them vanish at the click of a button.

    Love, PieMan

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  • 7. At 00:18am on 16 Jun 2010, Jimmy Cricket wrote:

    The truth being outed about Bloody Sunday should and hopefully will be the first in a series of British government admissions of indefensible actions by its establishment, and the role it played in covering up state murder. Hopefully now we will get to see the Stalker report, more state murder of unarmed people, executed this time by Unionist forces. Then hopefully the truth will be outed about the role played by RUC Special Branch into the activities of Mount Vernon UVF which included, allowing and covering up of its agents murdering dozens of innocent people. If Unionists feel they have been slapped in the face then they need to be prepared for a few more. If Unionists need equality through an inquiry into Enniskillen then do demand it, but dont be surprised to find that your mainland government possibly played a part in it.

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  • 8. At 09:10am on 16 Jun 2010, Wolfe Tone wrote:

    The silence is deafening.

    More interesting than the report's findings are the responses from Unionists. A sickening display of sectarian, partisan denial. The small men of Unionism.

    Those of us old enough to remember will not be surprised, as Unionism has never once been able to look at it's own acts of violence and those of it's allies without some mealy mouthed attempt at equivocation and finger pointing at their political enemies.

    Where are the regular pro-Union commentators to this blog? They are conspicuous by their absence. Where are the faux, bleating, pro rule of law comments they are so fond of presenting. Where are the insincere wishes of support and solidarity for the families of victims? Are these only for the victims of their enemies?

    The report is not about who we were so much as who we are still…

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  • 9. At 09:36am on 16 Jun 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 10. At 09:48am on 16 Jun 2010, ptlondonderry wrote:

    As a unionist who grew up in Derry, the events of Bloody Sunday I am glad that Saville has gone some way in addressing the grievances felt by the victims families.

    Let me be clear, the killings of innocent civilians protesting for civil rights should never have happened.

    And, let me also be clear, the families do deserve the truth.

    But so does every family who lost a relative during the Troubles.

    By singling out Bloody Sunday, as disgraceful as the actions of the soldiers were, one is in effect creating two tiers of victim.

    That is wrong.

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  • 11. At 10:22am on 16 Jun 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:

    10. ptlondonderry

    I'm sorry but Bloody Sunday was not singled out. The Widgery report was a white wash and the state covered up the truth for 38 years. The Saville inquiry was set up to tell the truth, something Gregory Campbell does not like to hear. The truth has been told in regards to Bloody Sunday.

    All the other murders (except for state murders as the state covered them up) should have been investigated by the RUC or the PSNI. If any justice has been failed, it was failed by either the RUC, the PSNI or the PPS and this needs to be recognised.

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  • 12. At 1:46pm on 16 Jun 2010, U14405564 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 13. At 3:36pm on 17 Jun 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 14. At 4:51pm on 17 Jun 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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