Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Defining Story of the British Army in Ireland

Bloody Sunday is The Defining Story of the British Army in Ireland


By Gerry Adams

Guardian (UK)

June 16, 2010


By 2.30pm the crowd at Free Derry corner had swollen

and spread towards the Bloody Sunday memorial. The

Bogside nestled below the city walls basking in warm

summer sunshine. Stewards shepherded members of the

Bloody Sunday families and other victims of state

killings, like the Ballymurphy families, to the front

of the mass of people. Eleven people - 10 men,

including a local priest and a mother of eight children

- were killed in Ballymurphy in west Belfast by the

parachute regiment in the 36 hours following the

introduction of internment in August 1971, six months

before Bloody Sunday in Derry.


There was a good natured sense of expectation as

thousands of people fell in behind the families. The

names of the 14 victims were read aloud. There was a

minute's silence. Then we set off for the Guild Hall,

the destination of the original civil rights march 38

years ago. As we passed Pilots Row Youth and Community

Centre someone started to sing We Shall Overcome and I

was swept back over 40 years ago.


    "We shall all be free. We shall all be free. We

    shall all be free. Some day. And deep in my heart I

    do believe That we shall Overcome One day."


In the Guild Hall Square the crowds cheered loudly as

family members ensconced inside the city chambers

reading the Saville report, waved copies of the report

from the stained glass windows and gave thumbs up signals.


We knew then, even before listening to the British

prime minister speaking from parliament in London and

relayed live on a big screen, that the families felt

vindicated. Today was their day. Today was a day for

those killed and injured. Today was a day for those who

campaigned for almost 40 years for truth and justice.


And when they trooped out of the Guild Hall they were

greeted with a rapturous welcome. Tony Doherty whose

father was killed by the paras put the families

feelings well.


    "The victims of Bloody Sunday have been vindicated.

    The Parachute Regiment has been disgraced.

    Widgery's great lie has been laid bare. The truth

    has been brought home at last.


    "It can now be proclaimed to the world that the

    dead and the wounded of Bloody Sunday, civil rights

    marchers, were innocent one and all... the

    Parachute Regiment are the frontline assassins for

    Britain's political and military elite. The report

    of the Saville tribunal confirms this ... democracy

    itself ... needs know what happened here on January

    30 1972. The British people need to know. The Irish

    people need to know. The world needs to know.


    "Just as the civil rights movement of 40 years ago

    was part of something huge happening all over the

    world, so the repression that came upon us was the

    same as is suffered by ordinary people everywhere

    who dare to stand up against injustice.

    Sharpeville. Grozny. Tiananmen Square. Darfur.

    Fallujah. Gaza. Let our truth stand as their truth too."


Representatives of all the families spoke. One by one

they declared their relative, their brother, their

father, their uncle, "innocent!"


Their remarks were interrupted by loud applause. People

cried and cheered. Clenched fists stabbed the air. Not

the clenched fists of young radicals. These were

elderly Derry grannies and grandads. Elderly widows.

Middle-aged siblings.


    "We shall all be free' We shall all be free. One day."


Today was their day. There was an air of celebration.

Of achievement. Of pride. Of release.


At the end, one of the women relatives tore up a copy

of the Widgery report and flung it to the wind. Widgery

was part of the British state's cover-up of what had

happened. A lie it stuck to for decades. I picked up

some of the pieces afterwards and placed them in my

copy of Saville, a keepsake of a remarkable day.


On the way home someone had placed hundreds of little

name plaques along the grass verge at the side of the

road outside Dungiven. The names were of hundreds of

citizens killed by the British army and other state

forces here during the conflict, including the 11 from Ballymurphy.


Cameron should know they and their families continue to

be denied truth. His apology for Bloody Sunday was

right. But he said that "Bloody Sunday is not the

defining story of the service the British army gave in

Northern Ireland from 1969-2007."


That is wrong.


Bloody Sunday is the defining story of the British army in Ireland.



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