Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bloody Sunday reprise

30 January 1972 in (London)derry is a day that sadly will always be in infamy. A day that Catholics in Ulster will see, with much justification, as the day the British Army turned on those it was meant to protect, but also a day that many Protestants will see as a provocation by terrorists.

The report of the Saville Inquiry will be released today, and so i wont predict what it will say. However, I do have three points to make in advance.

1. For those who seek justice, seek convictions and imprisonment of British army officers who killed, it is worth bearing in mind how many IRA terrorists who also have killed before and since that day, who have been pardoned and released. Was that right? No. Does it mean the British soldiers who gunned down civilians deserve to not face justice? No. However what should happen?

2. Reflect on how utterly disgusting and repulsive it is that the Blair Administration seems to have given a blank cheque on time and money for this Inquiry. £191 million is so far beyond what even compensation for the victims and their families would be, that it shows once more what happens when governments treat those they are meant to serve with contempt. It should not take twelve years and £15 million a year to gather evidence, and come to conclusions. I don’t expect much self reflection from those who have profited indirectly from Bloody Sunday.

3. More important than all of this, consider how tribalism, this time flavoured with religious sectarianism, can completely disregard the rights of the individual. How mind numbingly stupid it is to label anyone Catholic or Protestant, when it is simply about "us and them", with the same mentality that has seen the blood of millions spilt. The same mentality as in Rwanda, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Nazi Germany, former Yugoslavia and the list goes on, and on. The surrender of the individual to the group, the demonising of the "other" (outsiders), and glorification of the "group". It is only tragically funny when you consider how unlikely in most cases to find such people in Northern Ireland capable of holding cogent arguments about theology. The Northern Ireland peace process has NOT been about rigorously pushing individual rights,and reason to reject the knuckle-dragging mentality of religious sectarianism. Instead it has been about ending the fighting, keeping quiet and moving on, whilst British taxpayers have poured a fortune to prop up an economy on life support.

The malignant, evil philosophy that blends religious hatred (fired up by churches on both sides, seen most recently in the insane rants by Reverend Ian Paisley shouting "antichrist" at the previous Pope), tribalism and scape-goating has left Northern Ireland still full of many who think the poverty, desolation and decay of the region is due to what the "other side" did. Meanwhile, with a British government facing fiscal ruin, perhaps the chance exists for the 70% of the Northern Ireland economy "produced" from the state sector, to be paired back, and for the people of Ulster to start focusing on themselves, generating wealth and prosperity and treating each other as individuals, rather than members of communities that exist in their heads.

6 comments:

KG said...

Regarding what actually happened that day,this is worth reading:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1286646/BLOODY-SUNDAY-INQUIRY-Brave-British-soldiers-branded-criminals.html

And that fits very closely with what some members of the FRU observed.

Jeremy Harris said...

The cost of the inquiry was reported in NZ as costing $300,000,000 (I'm guessing NZD) at first I thought it must have been a newreaders typo but your saying 191,000,000 pounds..?

At the risk of sounding like a callous arsehole, surely the cost should be almost as big a scandal as the incident itself..?

This must be the most expense murder investigation in history...

libertyscott said...

KG: The Army was under much pressure, but it is abundantly clear that some soldiers took pot shots with some glee and that unarmed innocent civilians were killed. People that were simply protesting, some who went to help those who were shot.

The Government exists to protect citizens. The British Government at the time was only focused on meeting the needs of the Unionists who had maintained gerrymandered constituencies, and refused to allow Catholic to build housing to replace that which had been rightfully cleared.

I would never defend the IRA and its actions, they were cold blooded vile murderers. However, that does not justify gunning down unarmed civilians because the protest upset the Unionists.

Catholics in Ulster deserve and deserved the same civil liberties as all other British citizens. Had they had that, the IRA would have been a fringe group that many Catholics, rightfully, would have opposed.

Think of what other countries would have the army pointing and aiming at civilians holding a protest march, think how little effort was made to engage peacefully with the politicians on the Catholic side and what was reaped by bloody Sunday. For it gave comfort to those on both sides who wanted to wipe each other out.

KG said...

Reasonable comments, Scott but as one who was there I can tell you it was a damn sight more complicated than that.

Absolutely elements of 1Para Support lost control. Equally, they were coming under fire from a block of flats and the IRA themselves had already decided to shoot some protesters in order to create martyrs for the cause. And they did.

The FRU was deeply involved in operations to set both loyalists and republicans against their own people and as such they had access to vast amounts of intelligence which never made it as far as the regular Army (for various reasons) and believe me (or not) the situation was a damn sight more fluid and murky than most press reports indicate.

What sticks in my craw is the enormous cost and absurd time frame of an enquiry which looks at just one aspect of the conflict--an enquiry carefully framed to absolve just one side and convict the other. We should keep in mind the fact that of the 3000+ lives lost during the "Troubles" over 60% were due to actions by the IRA.
And since Blair's shameful pandering to these thugs, there's been no enquiry into the IRA's shift to prostitution, protection rackets and drug distribution.
When the IRA killers who were pardoned, paroled, released without charge and moved to Australia, Canada etc with new identities as part of the "peace process" are brought to justice, then I'll take the results of this witch-hunt seriously.

Oh, and you said "think how little effort was made to engage peacefully with the politicians on the Catholic side.."
"Politicians" on both sides were working hand-in-glove with terrorists and real engagement would have involved divulging information which could--and did--get people killed.
That line sounds good, but the reality was otherwise.

Redbaiter said...

Singapore exists peacefully and prospers whilst being a multi-religious society.

Even when so many of its citizens are possibly a lot more deeply religious than either of the Irish camps.

Whatever the reason for Ireland's situation, it cannot be entirely sheeted home to religion.

Redbaiter said...

What happened to your top links??