Bloody Sunday report given to NI Secretary Patterson

Image caption,
Owen Patterson was given a copy of the report on Monday

The Secretary of State Owen Paterson has received his copy of the Saville Report on the events of Bloody Sunday.

The families of those killed and injured, the soldiers involved and some MPs and Peers will be given access to the report on Tuesday morning.

The inquiry was set up to re-examine the deaths of 13 people killed when British soldiers opened fire on a civil rights march in Londonderry in 1972.

The inquiry, led by Lord Saville, was announced in 1998 and cost about £195m.

It became the longest-running inquiry in British legal history.

The shootings were among the most controversial state killings in the Northern Ireland conflict.

The Saville Report is expected to run to 10 volumes containing 5,000 pages.

There has been criticism from all sides over the length of time the process has taken.

Dermot Walsh, Professor of Law at the University of Limerick, who supported the establishment of the inquiry, said Saville's findings have been "seriously diminished" by the length of time it has taken to compile them.


The families of those killed and injured, the soldiers involved and some MPs and peers will have access to the report on Tuesday morning.

The media will have embargoed access one hour before publication at 1530 BST on Tuesday.

Among the issues which Lord Saville will address in his report include the allegations contained in the 1972 Widgery Inquiry into the killings that some of the dead and injured were gunmen or bombers.

Bloody Sunday campaigner Eamonn McCann said he would be "surprised and deeply disappointed" if this claim was upheld by Lord Saville.

"Based on the evidence, I'm confident he is going to find that none of the dead or wounded were nailbombers or gunmen.

"All of them were unarmed civilians," he said.

This was accepted by the soldiers during the inquiry, but they maintained the victims were shot by mistake while they were firing at armed men.

Their solicitor, Stephen Pollard, said the soldiers want Saville to find they were justified in firing.

"The main issue is whether they intended to kill innocent people on the day, and they have maintained throughout the interview period they were genuinely shooting at people who were terrorists or who had weapons.

"They did accept that those who were shot on the day were not terrorists, but the position remains that there were terrorists there and the soldiers say it was those people they were shooting at."

A republican paramilitary group, the Official IRA, have said they fired a small number of shots on the day.

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, who was a member of the Provisional IRA in 1972, also faced questions from the inquiry as to his activities on Bloody Sunday.

The report will include findings on both wings of the IRA.

"If Lord Saville finds that the first shots of the day came from the Official IRA, I don't believe that the evidence would allow him to say that had any material effect on what happened next," said Eamonn McCann.

"Indeed, none of the soldiers who killed or wounded people gave as their reason for firing that those Official IRA shots had proceeded them.

Image caption,
A handmade appeal on the base of the Bloody Sunday memorial in Derry

"There was no eyewitness evidence or any other kind of persuasive evidence to suggest Martin McGuinness was actively involved in the events of Bloody Sunday or fired any shots, so I don't see how Lord Saville can make a finding of any kind on that when there's simply no evidence to sustain it," he said.

The relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday also believe Lord Saville must consider the role and responsibility of senior figures in the army and government in 1972.

"That's the soldiers who pulled the triggers, the commanders who sent them in to do that, and the politicians who were behind that again," said Liam Wray, whose brother James was killed.

"They should all be brought to book for their responsibility."

The families say they want an acknowledgement of the truth of what happened on that day.

"We believe we will get a full declaration of innocence for our people," said John Kelly, who also lost his brother on Bloody Sunday.

"We all know the truth, but it's about acknowledging that wrongdoing."

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