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Sok Sobi. I enjoy taking pictures of people and places, particular interest in Landscape, People and Travel photography. Pictures and stories that bring Social Awareness and the potential for long term social change or policy are important to me. I use Canon Digital Cameras (EOS 1Ds,1D Mk1,2,4 plus Powershot G11) with a selection of Canon lenses, the 24-105 IS f4L being my favourite at present. I use Lightroom & Photoshop Elements to edit my work. Canon equipment and lenses give me just what I need, reliability and high IQ. I am now living and working in Cambodia, South East Asia, using Phnom Penh as a base to explore the region. I publish stories that are important to me on my blog but always try to give a balanced picture.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Will the wounds ever be healed? - Sunday Bloody Sunday

Will the wounds ever be healed? - UK Politics, UK - The Independent

In just 558 words 38 years ago Britain's then Lord Chief Justice Lord Widgery did more to damage the country's reputation in Ireland than almost any other single act during the history ofthe Troubles.
Today another British judge, Lord Saville, will take 5,000 pages and 10 volumes to undo that damage as his inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday finally reports.
Publication of the Saville report is in many ways one of the last pieces of the peace process jigsaw put together with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.
No one expects the new report to bring immediate closure on such a controversial incident. Heated argument is, for example, expected on the question of whether erring soldiers should be prosecuted. But the hope is that there will be a basis for progress from an inquiry which lasted 12 years and cost almost £200m.

SUMMARY of Points

Lord Widgery's report into the Bloody Sunday shootings largely exonerated British soldiers, and was described by many as a whitewash. Lord Saville condemned the soldiers and exonerated their victims, who he said were not posing a threat of causing death or serious injury. Here we highlight key passages in which Lord Saville's report diverges from its forerunner.

On the use of the Paras

2.21-2: "It was suggested that 1 Para had been specifically brought to Londonderry because they were known to be the roughest and toughest unit in Northern Ireland and it was intended to use them in one of two ways: either to flush out any IRA gunmen in the Bogside and destroy them by superior training and firepower; or to send a punitive force into the Bogside to give the residents a rough handling and discourage them from making or supporting further attacks on the troops … there is not a shred of evidence to support these suggestions."
2.13: "[Major General Robert Ford, then Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland] referred in particular to the 'Derry Young Hooligans' as a factor in the continued destruction of the city, and expressed the view that the army was 'virtually incapable' of dealing with them. He also expressed the view that he was coming to the conclusion that the minimum force required to deal with the 'Derry Young Hooligans' was, after clear warnings, to shoot selected ringleaders."

On discipline

3.95: "In the events which took place on 30 January the soldiers were entitled to regard themselves as acting individually and thus entitled to fire under the terms of Rule 13 without waiting for orders … the soldiers' training certainly required them to act individually in such circumstances and no breach of discipline was thereby involved."
5.4: "In this belief soldiers reacted by losing their self-control and firing themselves, forgetting or ignoring their instructions and training and failing to satisfy themselves that they had identified targets posing a 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."

On who shot first

2.54: "To those who seek to apportion responsibility for the events of 30 January the question 'Who fired first?' is vital. I am entirely satisfied that the first firing in the [Rossville Flats] courtyard was directed at the soldiers."
3.76: "Despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers. No one threw or threatened to throw a nail or petrol bomb at the soldiers on Bloody Sunday."

On false accounts

3.97: "Those accustomed to listening to witnesses could not fail to be impressed by the demeanour of the soldiers of 1 Para. They gave their evidence with confidence and without hesitation or prevarication and withstood a rigorous cross-examination without contradicting themselves or each other. With one or two exceptions I accept that they were telling the truth as they remembered it."
3.82: "In the course of the report we have considered in detail the accounts of the soldiers whose firing caused the casualties, in the light of much other evidence. We have concluded, for the reasons we give, that apart from Private T many of these soldiers have knowingly put forward false accounts in order to seek to justify their firing."

On the order to arrest

2.30: "It is understandable that these circumstances have given rise to suspicion that the CO 1 Para [Colonel Wilford] exceeded his orders, but I do not accept this conclusion in the face of the sworn evidence of the three officers concerned."
3.19: "Colonel Wilford either deliberately disobeyed Brigadier MacLellan's order or failed for no good reason to appreciate the clear limits on what he had been authorised to do. He was disturbed by the delay in responding to his request to mount an arrest operation and had concluded that, by reason of the delay, the only way to effect a significant number of arrests was to deploy Support Company in vehicles into the Bogside."

The key findings were:
:: "The firing by soldiers of 1 Para caused the deaths of 13 people and injury to a similar number, none of whom was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury." This also applied to the 14th victim, who died later from injuries;
:: "Despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers." The report added that no one threw, or threatened to throw, nail or petrol bombs at soldiers;
:: The accounts of soldiers were rejected, with a number said to have "knowingly put forward false accounts";
:: Members of the official IRA fired a number of shots, though it was concluded it was the paratroopers who shot first on Bloody Sunday;
:: Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, second in command of the provisional IRA in Derry in 1972, was "probably armed with a Thompson submachine gun", and though it is possible he fired the weapon, this cannot be proved. The report concluded: "He did not engage in any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire."
:: Lord Saville concluded the commander of land forces in Northern Ireland, Major General Robert Ford, would have been aware that the Parachute Regiment had a reputation for using excessive force. But he would not have believed there was a risk of paratroopers firing unjustifiably;
:: The commanding officer of the paratroopers, Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford, disobeyed an order from a superior officer not to enter troops into the nationalist Bogside estate;
:: Lord Saville found his superior officer, Brigadier Patrick MacLellan, held no blame for the shootings as if he had known what Col Wilford was intending, he might well have called it off;
:: No blame was placed on the organisers of the march, the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association;
:: Neither the UK nor Northern Ireland governments planned or foresaw the use of unnecessary lethal force.
The report referred to one person who was shot while "crawling ... away from the soldiers" and another who was probably shot "when he was lying mortally wounded on the ground".
A father was "hit and injured by Army gunfire after he had gone to ... tend his son," the report said.
"The immediate responsibility for the deaths and injuries on Bloody Sunday lies with those members of the support company whose unjustifiable firing was the cause of those deaths and injuries," the report said.
It added that "none of the casualties was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, or indeed was doing anything else that could on any view justify their shooting".
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday killings leave the Guildhall building with copies of the Saville Report

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