Saville publication 'an extraordinary day' - Bono

Image caption, Bono penned the column for the New York Times

Bono has described the publication of the Saville report into Bloody Sunday as "one of the most extraordinary days in the mottled history of Ireland".

Writing in the New York Times, the U2 frontman who penned the iconic hit "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" said the killings of 13 civilians by British paratroops had caused the Troubles "to spiral into another dimension".

"It was a day when paramilitaries on both sides became the loudest voices in the conflict, a day that saw people queuing to give up on peace," the Dubliner said.

"Mostly young men but also women who had had enough of empire and would now consider every means necessary — however violent or ugly — to drive it from their corner."

He contrasted 30 January 1972 with last Tuesday when "clouds that had hung overhead for 38 years were oddly missing" and praised the prime minister David Cameron, who apologised for the shootings.

"Thirty-eight years did not disappear in an 11-minute speech - how could they, no matter how eloquent or heartfelt the words?

"But they changed and morphed, as did David Cameron, who suddenly looked like the leader he believed he would be. From prime minister to statesman."

He also had words of praise for the NI deputy first minister.

"For a moment, the other life that Martin McGuinness could have had seemed to appear in his face.

"A commander of the Irish Republican Army that day in 1972, he looked last week like the fly fisherman he is, not the gunman he became - a school teacher, not a terrorist - a first-class deputy first minister."

Bono, who has been a strident campaigner on various issues including human rights abuses, fair trade and third world debt, said he believed the Saville Inquiry and the wider Northern Ireland peace process would help bring hope to other parts of the world.

"Healing is kind of a corny word but it's peculiarly appropriate here; wounds don't easily heal if they are not out in the open.

"The Saville report brought openness, clarity, because at its core, it accorded all the people involved in the calamity their proper role."

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