The Troops Out Movement has taken time to consider the findings of the Saville Report of the Bloody Sunday killings by British Soldiers on 30th January 1972. Here are our comments.

Bad Apples?
TOM News 28/06/10

The Troops Out Movement comments on the publication of the Saville Report into Bloody Sunday

The Troops Out Movement welcomes the pronouncement by British Prime Minister David Cameron that all those killed and wounded on Bloody Sunday were innocent.

We are concerned however, that following the publication of the Saville Report one senior officer and a handful of soldiers from the British army’s Parachute Regiment are to carry the blame for the day’s atrocities. The blame for Bloody Sunday does not lie solely with Lt Col Derek Wilford and ‘a few bad apples’ on the ground that day.

This is far too simplistic and absolves other senior figures of their share of responsibility and their involvement in mass murder and its subsequent cover up.

  • Why had a planned civil rights march in Derry been discussed at cabinet level at Stormont the week previously and at cabinet level in London?

  • Why had a memo been sent to the British embassy in Washington warning of possible adverse reactions if there was trouble in Derry on that Sunday?

  • Why would a simple civil rights march warrant such high levels of attention unless there was an idea that something controversial might happen?

The Saville Report says soldiers on the ground lost control. But why deploy the Parachute Regiment to Derry? Their brutal reputation was already well known.

Five months before Bloody Sunday, they shot dead eleven people – ten men, including a priest, and a mother of eight – in Ballymurphy. Nine days before Bloody Sunday, they fired rubber bullets and CS gas at close range at civil rights marchers on Magilligan Strand just outside Derry (John Hume also witnessed them beating the defenceless demonstrators).

Parachute Regiment ‘Soldier 027’ admitted to the tribunal that, on the night before the Bloody Sunday massacre, his platoon had been told to ‘‘get some kills’’ the next day. He has had to be placed in a witness protection programme under a new identity since he gave evidence behind screens at the tribunal and he still fears that his former comrades will kill him. There has already been one attempt on his life, when his landlord was attacked in a case of mistaken identity.

Pile up the case against the deceased

General Robert Ford, who had commissioned the British army’s tactical plan for Bloody Sunday, ‘Operation Forecast’, shouted “Go on the Paras!” as his regiment began their murderous onslaught on the civil rights marchers. This is the man who had earlier written on the subject of ‘rioting’ that he was coming to the conclusion that the minimum force necessary to restore law and order in Derry was to “shoot selected ringleaders”.

General Sir Michael Jackson, who went on to hold the top post in the British army, was involved in writing the ‘shot list’ – the army’s original, and scandalous, account of Bloody Sunday. None of the shots described in the list conformed to any of the shots which evidence indicated had actually been fired. Some trajectories took bullets through buildings to hit their targets!

British Home Secretary Reginald Maudling lied to the British House of Commons and said the paratroopers had acted in self-defence.

As British Prime Minister Edward Heath appointed Lord Widgery to cover up the murders he advised him that Britain was ‘fighting not only a military war but a propaganda war’. The secretary to the Widgery Tribunal said it would “pile up the case against the deceased”, according to declassified documents. Widgery’s report cannot be easily explained away. It was not compiled by someone of inexperience or weak disposition. There was no lack of resources and, importantly, all the necessary evidence was available.

The British authorities spewed out negative propaganda about the innocent men and boys who were murdered and media outlets enthusiastically regurgitated those lies.

The Queen of England publicly displayed her appreciation of Derek Wilford’s service when she decorated him with an OBE shortly after Bloody Sunday.

As Danny Morrison wrote in a letter to The Irish Times (24/06/10):

“Had the British government on February 1st, 1972 admitted what Saville in 2010 declared had really happened on Bloody Sunday then Ted Heath’s government would have fallen, there would have been a crisis in Britain, paratroopers would have faced life imprisonment and, in all likelihood, Britain would have been propelled much more quickly down the road of negotiation instead of fighting a dirty war. Thousands of lives might well have been saved.”

Cover up

The British establishment was responsible for Bloody Sunday and for the subsequent cover-up – and David Cameron admitted this when he said:

“The conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt. There is nothing equivocal. There are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.

“What happened should never, ever have happened. The families of those who died should not have had to live with the pain and hurt of that day – and a lifetime of loss.

“Some members of our armed forces acted wrongly. The government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces. And for that, on behalf of the government – and indeed our country – I am deeply sorry.”

The Bloody Sunday murder victims were shot dead trying to escape to safety from the Paras’ bullets. One victim was shot dead crawling away from the soldiers. One while lying mortally wounded on the ground. Another was shot dead through the back of his head as he waved a white handkerchief while going to the aid of another mortally wounded man. Many were shot dead from behind.

No warnings were given before the Paras opened fire. None of the victims posed “any threat of causing death or serious injury”. The Saville Report states that none of the Paras fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers. The bullets fired that day by the British army were well-aimed and were fired deliberately and callously at civilians fleeing for their lives.

The publication of the Saville Report and David Cameron’s apology were wonderful developments for the Bloody Sunday families who have, after 38 years, finally cleared the names of their loved-ones.

They were very handy developments also for the British establishment in its continued concealment of the actions and involvement of senior figures leading up to, during, and subsequent to Bloody Sunday.

Very savvy Saville!

Troops Out Movement

Campaigning for British Withdrawal from Ireland

PO Box 1032 Birmingham B12 8BZ  Tel: 0121 773 8683 Mob: 0797 017 4167


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