Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

23 March 2000 Edition

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Families deserve truth and justice

As the Saville Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killings in Derry on 30 January 1972 prepares for its initial oral hearings this Monday, the eyes of those who have followed the story for the last 30 years will be on Derry.

Since that day, when the British government sent its troops to execute the Civil Rights movement and shoot nationalists off their own streets, Bloody Sunday has been the epitome of British injustice in Ireland.

Not alone did the British government set out to win a military victory that day, they then set in train a campaign to cover up the planned military operation launched against the Civil Rights movement.

That campaign began when, on the day after Bloody Sunday, Edward Heath, the then British prime minister, called in Lord Chief Justice Widgery and instructed him to carry out an investigation.

However, Widgery left Downing Street with the reminder from Heath that the British were fighting ``not only a military but a propaganda war'' in Ireland.

That instruction was evidently a warning to Widgery not to probe too deeply into the events of Bloody Sunday. Thus, instead of an inquiry, we were served a cover up.

Almost three decades later, the responsibility that lies on Lord Saville's shoulder's is an immense one.

He must give us truth and justice, a justice that must be seen.

However, the most important answers about Bloody Sunday lie in the vaults of the British government's records office.

Will the Inquiry find out who actually gave the go ahead for the Bloody Sunday operation? Will the planners, both political and military, be brought before the Inquiry? Will we ever know who allowed rifles that were used that day, vital evidence, to be destroyed?

The many unanswered questions about 30 January 1972 need to be answered because the families of those killed and the wounded deserve the truth.

But Bloody Sunday also represents the extreme end of a British colonial mentality that allows its army to ``quell the natives by force of arms''. By finally admitting the truth, the British government will have taken a step in recognising that Ireland is not a colonial backwater and our people are not to be shot down as ``restless natives''.

The world is watching.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1