by David Granville & Sass Tuffin
THE LEGION of solicitors and lawyers involved in the Saville inquiry have packed up their case notes and cross-examination strategies until its resumption at London’s Westminster Central Hall in the autumn.
The last several months have proved to be an exasperating and emotionally draining for the Bloody Sunday relatives, providing little emotional solace and shedding barely any extra light on the events of 30 January 1972 in Derry.
At least they can look forward to a few months off from the obfuscation and amnesia displayed by a majority of those called before the inquiry in London and take a rest from the rigors of having to commute between Derry and London.
For those who had hoped that the cross examination of assorted soldiers, officers and MoD officials, and the British politicians who were their ultimate masters, would bring the world closer to the truth about what happened on Bloody Sunday the experience has provided little cheer and precious little enlightenment.
Freelance journalist Paul Donovan recently summed up the most recent phase of the Saville inquiry thus:
“‘I cannot recall, I have no idea, I have no recollection are the regular refrains that ring out from soldiers, politicians and civil servants coming to give evidence to the Bloody Sunday inquiry at Westminster Central Hall. The relatives of those who died on Bloody Sunday call it Northern Ireland syndrome.’”
His assessment is one which is fully shared by the Bloody Sunday relatives. Speaking at a meeting in the British House of Commons in June, Tony Doherty, whose father Paddy was killed on Bloody Sunday said it was probable that the inquiry represented the biggest challenge ever taken up by the British army.
Expressing solidarity with the families of soldiers who have died at the army’s Deepcut barracks he said: “A culture of conspiratorial secrecy exists within the British army that has largely gone unchallenged. Widgery wanted to believe a version of events that nobody else believes in. The culture of conspiratorial secrecy means that many other families have never got beyond the initial lie.
“The British government has been called to account for not protecting the life of people involved. The state is on trial and the British state should plead guilty. There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that murder took place on Bloody Sunday.”
Truth and justice rather than financial compensation or retribution was what the families would continue to campaign for. What is important, he insisted, is that “the British army neglected to investigate state murder”.
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