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Europe

Bloody Sunday killings report to be released

©

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2010-06-15

British Prime Minister David Cameron unveils Tuesday a landmark report into the 1972 killings of 13 civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland, raising hopes of justice for the families of victims as well as fears of renewed tensions.

 

It has been the longest, most expensive inquiry in British history.
 
Led by English High Court judge Lord Saville, the inquiry into Bloody Sunday has taken 12 years to compile, cost 190 million pounds (230 million euros), runs to 5,000 pages and includes 2,500 interviews and statements.

Set to be published on Tuesday afternoon at 2.30pm (GMT), it is intended to paint a full, true picture of what happened over 38 years ago in Londonderry in Northern Ireland, known as Derry to Catholics.

Bloody Sunday was a landmark incident in the Troubles, the three decades of violence during which more than 3,500 people died, and which largely ended by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

On January 30 1972, 15,000 protesters marched through Derry calling for greater civic rights for the Catholic population of Northern Ireland.

Before reaching their destination the marchers were stopped by British Army barricades, where they threw stones at soldiers who responded by firing plastic bullets.  

But in the Bogside district of the city, soldiers of the Parachute Regiment opened up on protesters with live ammunition, killing 13. One man who was shot in the shoulder died of his wounds six months later, while another 13 were seriously injured.
 
Paying the price
 
With many criticising the vast cost of the inquiry, others say its publication is a necessary step towards cementing peace in Northern Ireland. But the question remains as to whether anyone will actually be prosecuted for the killings.
 
“It was the price that needed to be paid for democracy and to close the book on this incident,” Democratic Unionist Party MP Gregory Campbell told RFI’s Hervé Amoric. “And yes, some are saying that they want to see these soldiers prosecuted, while many IRA terrorists have never been to court.
 
“And Northern Ireland’s First Minister Martin McGuinness admitted during the inquiry that at the time of the Bloody Sunday killings he was the IRA’s number two man. He has never been prosecuted, and he has never spent a day in jail.”
 
For his part, McGuinness said there was a “huge difference” between the IRA militants and soldiers of the British Army.
 
“The IRA was hounded relentlessly by the security forces. But in the case of the Bloody Sunday, those men who committed murder were marched to Buckingham Palace and decorated by the Queen," he notes.
 
Silent procession
 
He added: "The citizens of Derry, to a man and woman, want Saville to make it absolutely clear that the 27 people who were shot on that day - murdered and injured - were completely innocent people and that those people who inflicted those deaths and injuries were the guilty parties,"
 
The families of those killed were to start a silent procession at 10:00am (0900 GMT) from the Bloody Sunday memorial on Londonderry's Rossville Street to the Guildhall in the centre of the city, symbolically completing the march that was halted in 1972.
 
Two relatives for each victim will be allowed to read the report before it is officially published.
 
In the afternoon, as British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers the report to Parliament, marchers will follow the same route, with some media reports suggesting that up to 10,000 people could watch proceedings on a giant screen near the Guildhall.

Date created : 2010-06-15

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