No reason to delay inquiry
Friday 06 July 2012
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson‘s demand that any police inquiry into the Bloody Sunday army massacre in Derry must include investigation of his deputy Martin McGuinness‘s role is par for the course.
Robinson could be expected to do nothing else in order to retain the support of his electorate and of his Democratic Unionist Party.
This realisation could explain McGuinness’s calm reaction to the demand, together with his knowledge that the unionist establishment is engaged in laying down a smokescreen to cover up the real issues.
Those opposed to a police probe of the criminal activities of the British army have seized upon part of Lord Saville’s inquiry report which found that McGuinness had been in Derry on the day of the slaughter, “probably armed with a machinegun.”
McGuinness accepts being on the streets of the city where he lived but denies carrying a firearm.
Even if he were lying through his teeth about being armed it would be irrelevant – since the whole world knows now that, despite lies spread at the time by the military, British government and media, soldiers did not come under fire from the IRA on that day.
The 14 Irish Catholics done to death were unarmed and met their end as the result of members of the Parachute Regiment shooting them down without justification.
Saville also took apart the tissue of lies confected by the British military, political and media elite and demolished the absurd apology for an inquiry cobbled together by Lord Chief Justice John Widgery.
Even David Cameron has had to accept that the Bloody Sunday killings were “unjustified and unjustifiable.”
That being so, natural justice demands that the perpetrators of this heinous crime should face trial, but this is resisted by those in Northern Ireland with a vested interest in preventing a belated resolution of this matter.
It does not augur well for a speedy and successful procedure that the Northern Ireland Police Service is already suggesting that it could take a further four years – 40 years after the murders took place – before it is in a position to complete its investigation.
The police will require co-operation from the military, which already has form in welcoming back into its ranks – and subsequently promoting – the tiny number of soldiers found guilty of shooting civilians dead.
Similar co-operation will be needed from the British government and all its agencies to prevent a repeat, as Sinn Fein justice spokesman Raymond McCartney put it, of the “interference, prevarication and destroying of evidence that we witnessed during the Saville Inquiry.”
It is clear that there remains resistance within the police to investigating Bloody Sunday, despite Northern Ireland Police Federation chairman Terry Spence’s insistence that his organisation has always supported prosecution of police and soldiers if evidence is available.
Using the deaths of police officers killed by the IRA or the more recent murder of Constable Ronan Kerr by republican splinter groups in Omagh last year as bargaining counters against a Bloody Sunday investigation is unacceptable.
IRA members and other paramilitaries were arrested and prosecuted on a regular basis throughout the armed conflict for attacks on the security forces.
Their deeds were not systematically covered up by the authorities and justice denied to the families of the victims.
That is what causes Bloody Sunday to stand out and makes the police investigation a priority.