Currently the Bloody Sunday inquiry
still has a long way to go. Over 350 civilians have been questioned thus far. There are still members of the RUC
, British army
and politicians to be questioned. Recently, the cost of the inquiry was shown to have risen above £60 million ($84 million). This has been to the anger of many Unionist and non-Irish MPs, who have asked for something to be done to limit the cost. Though few would argue that the inquiry should be stopped, many would claim that short of a fudge
to please one side or the other, there is little point in wasting money on something where a decisive conclusion cannot be reached.
The facts are that on 30th January, 1972, 13 people were shot and killed by British paratroopers in Londonderry. Though at the time it was claimed that many of the dead were suspected terrorists, most were certainly civilians. Though a few may have had links to the IRA, none were armed.
The problem is establishing why the soldiers opened fire. As no soldiers have been questioned yet, we cannot be sure. The facts are that a few days previously, two members of the RUC had been shot by terrorists. The soldiers were therefore in a state of heightened fear - they could well be next. Certainly, they were tired of being used for target practice.
No one can claim that the soldiers were intent on killing. Earlier on, as statements from civilians show, both the RUC and army had acted with restraint towards a relatively small group of thugs, who had been throwing rocks and bricks at the barracades. The shooting, when it started, was likely to have been some idiot private loosing his cool, thinking that he had seen someone draw a gun.
On the terrorist side, it has long been claimed that no members of the IRA had been present, armed. Though it has come to light that Martin McGuinness had taken weapons from an armoury that day, he denies that they were handed out. No one will be able to be sure if there was any IRA involvement, short of someone coming forward, though currently it seems unlikely.
This tragedy was an accident. An awful one and one that could have been averted by better control from the commanders and discipline from those who started the shooting, but an accident none the less. What was worse was that the 13 deaths put the peace process back. However it is wrong to blame the army entirely. Some of the biggest culprits were the Protestant politicians who governed Northern Ireland at the time. Not only had they banned the march to the Guildhall, but they had caused the unrest by making Catholics second-class citizens, through gerrymandering and restriction of civil rights. There are two other things that E2 users should know.
1) I'm an Anglo-Irish Catholic (1/3 Irish), so please don't discount my views if you're Catholic Irish (North or Republic).
2) Ironically, the Catholics (I don't include myself as I don't live in Northern Ireland) had begged the army to come to Northern Ireland in force in the 1960s, after they suffered violence at the hands of Protestants.