Saville Commission Corrects Part of the Record


There has been much relief, both from Fleet Street and victim's families, that a British government commission, headed by Lord Saville, finally released an honest account of the 1972 "Bloody Sunday" massacre in Derry, during which members of Britain's elite First Parachute Regiment killed 14 Catholic civilians. The commission cost British taxpayers a whopping £200 million, forced a public apology from British Prime Minister David Cameron, and successfully destroyed the ludicrous "findings" of the Widgery Tribunal, a contemporaneous report that vindicated the army.

One of the most acerbic commenters on the Troubles has always been Irish Independent columnist Kevin Myers (whose fantastic memoir of his years working for RTE in Belfast, Watching the Door, was published in the United States last year by Soft Skull Press) recently wrote that only "an idiot, psychopath or militaristic bigot [would] think that anything other than mass murder occurred on Bloody Sunday, January 30, 1972." Indeed. It has long been acknowledged that the Official IRA (the "stickies," not the Provos) fired a high velocity sniper round at the Paras—the so-called drainpipe bullet—though whether or not this precipitated the brutal response from the British Army or was a reaction to the unit's mad charge toward civilian demonstrators has long been in dispute. The Saville commission places the shot after the Paras locked and loaded for "battle," viewing the incident as wholly independent of the British army shootings.

But Myers is also right that while those Republicans killed on Bloody Sunday deserve vindication—they were not armed, but peaceful protesters demonstrating against internment—there is something sickening about these murders-cum-Sinn Fein politicians (Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, in particular) blubbering and mugging for BBC cameras about the long overdue correction of the historical record. As Myers writes, with mild indignation, "Not a word from you murdering IRA bastards: not a fucking word —do you understand?"

Lord Tebbit, advisor to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, is similarly annoyed. When an IRA bomb exploded at the 1984 Tory party conference in Brighton, Tebbit's wife was paralyzed by flying shrapnel and five others killed. Tebbit told the Telegraph that "If first-class victims in Londonderry are entitled to an inquiry to see whether there was indeed a plot which caused the shootings or whether it was a cock-up, which is what it appears to be, then why not the victims of Brighton?"

British historian Max Hastings observes in The Daily Mail that, for nakedly partisan reasons, "the long catalogue of Republican atrocities against the British and Irish peoples goes unexplored" and reminds us that "Of all those who perished in the Troubles, just 10 per cent were killed by the security forces; 30 per cent by Protestant militants; 60 per cent by the IRA." As readers of Eamon Collins' brilliant book, of Peter Taylor's history of the Provos, of The Secret History of the IRA, of Sean O'Callaghan's memoir know, all of this is true, but to bring Sinn Fein and various factions of Prod revanchists to the peace table investigations were closed, "paramilitaries" (scumbags like Patrick Magee and Johnny Adair) were released.

And what of (Catholic) Sergeant Peter Gilgunn and (Protestant) Constable David Montgomery, the two policemen killed in Derry the day before Bloody Sunday, in an operation that was almost certainly approved by the vile current deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuiness? Will the British government now investigate the Enniskillen bombing, in which 12 Protestants were massacred by the IRA while observing Poppy Day? Perhaps David Cameron could unilaterally start the investigation by interviewing First Minister McGuiness, head of the IRA's Northern Command at the time of the massacre, next time he pops in at Number 10.