TROOPS OUT MOVEMENT NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

troopsoutmovement@btinternet.com   www.troopsoutmovement.com

Newsletter July 2010

TOM COMMENT ON THE SAVILLE REPORT

Bad Apples ?

 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 simplistic and absolves other senior figures of their responsibility and involvement in mass murder and its subsequent cover up.

  • Why had a planned civil rights march in Derry been discussed at the previous week at cabinet level in Stormont and 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 Paras t o Derry anyway? 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 the Paras beating defenceless demonstrators).

Parachute Regiment ‘Soldier 027’ admitted to the tribunal that, on the night before the massacre, his platoon had been told to ‘‘get some kills’’ the next day. (He has been in witness protection under a new identity since he gave evidence behind screens at the tribunal and 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 plan for Bloody Sunday ‘Operation Forecast’, shouted “Go on the Paras!” as his regiment began their murderous onslaught on civil rights marchers. He 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, scandalous account of Bloody Sunday. None of the shots in the list conformed to any 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 negative out propaganda against the innocent men and boys who were murdered and the media enthusiastically regurgitated the lies.
 The Queen of England publicly displayed her appreciation of Derek Wilford’s when she awarded him an OBE soon 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.”

One of the Bloody Sunday murder victims was shot dead while crawling away from the soldiers. Another was shot dead when he was 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.

None were given any warning before the soldiers opened fire. None of the casualties had a firearm or posed “any threat of causing death or serious injury”. Further, the report is explicit that none of the soldiers fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers.
 
These killings were not accidental; they were deliberate and callous.
 
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!

Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival

Fri 16th  – Sun 18th July

 Tolpuddle Dorset

The Troops Out Movement has a stall and distributes leaflets at this event on the Sat & Sun, and joins in the parade on Sun lunchtime. For more details of the festival see www.tuc.org.uk

Setting the Truth Free

An open letter of thanks from the Bloody Sunday families and wounded.

To our supporters everywhere.

On 30th January 1972, a dark cloud descended upon this beautiful city. It stayed until last Tuesday, 15th June 2010 – over 38 years of a journey. It has now been lifted.

It has been a long journey from the beginning of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign to where we are today. Although we have always known the truth – now we can now rest easy – safe in the knowledge that our loved ones have been officially declared innocent by Lord Saville.

From the early days of the campaign, it became apparent that we would need moral, political and financial support. With this in mind, we called upon you, the people of Derry, to help. We couldn’t have done this without you.

Not only have we had strong community support and political support, we have also been fortunate enough to have friends throughout the world eager to help us ‘Set the Truth Free’. Thanks to all those who campaigned, marched and encouraged us over the years. Special thanks must also be conveyed to our legal teams, who faced their daunting task with professionalism and courtesy.

Our gratitude must also be expressed to Bloody Sunday Trust members, past and present, who have been a constant support and guiding light throughout the campaign, and to Cunamh for their assistance throughout the Inquiry.

It would be impossible to name all those who have helped us over the years, but please be assured we appreciate everything you have done. Without your encouragement and support, we would not have been able to stand before you on the steps of the Guildhall last week. Without your perseverance, the story of what happened here on Bloody Sunday would have long since been forgotten.

Last Tuesday was an historic event for the people of Derry and beyond and we gladly share our achievement with all of you. From within the Guildhall we could hear the cheers of the expectant Derry crowds, and this, accompanied by Lord Saville’s verdict and David Cameron’s apology, meant the world to us. The subsequent meeting between families and Protestant church leaders further highlighted the need for healing for all those affected by conflict.

For decades, we, the families and the wounded, had longed for the truth to be set free and we are very grateful that so many were present to share in our sense of relief and achievement.

Thank you.

Le buíochas as ucht agus le grá mór (With heartfelt thanks and great love)

The Bloody Sunday families and wounded

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Troops Out Movement

Annual Delegation to Belfast

Thurs 5 – Sun 8 Aug 2010

 This year’s visit will take place three months after the UK General Election. Five thousand British troops remain in Ireland; policing powers have been transferred to the Stormont Assembly; the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday has reported but other inquiries are slow and tedious and there is no progress on the issue of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and British state forces.

Our visit is a unique opportunity to observe, at first hand, the reality of life in Belfast and hear, free from media interference, the views of people directly affected.

 You will have chance to:-

  • Attend political talks / discussion workshops

  • Visit community groups

  • Visit the Museum of Free Derry

  • Meet Bloody Sunday Relatives

  • Join in the West Belfast Community Festival

Interested.

Contact Details at top of this Newsletter

 

 

 
Bally Murphy Relatives at Trade Union Conference

Two relatives of people killed by the British Army in the Ballymurphy Massacre were campaigning in Blackpool last month.

Irene Connolly is the daughter of Joan Connolly, mother of eight, shot eight times whilst helping another victim. Eileen McKeown is the daughter of Joseph Corr (43), father of seven, shot whilst walking with his son and died two weeks later.

Ballymurphy is a housing estate in West Belfast. The Ballymurphy 11 were murdered during the first three days of Internment, August 1971, by the 2nd Battalion of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment. This same regiment went on, 5 months later, to murder fourteen civilian demonstrators on Bloody Sunday in Derry.

No one was ever brought to justice for murdering the Ballymurphy 11 and they have  never had the focus of the Bloody Sunday victims who were shot within 40 minutes in full view of the world’s media. The Ballymurphy victims were killed over 3 days in their own area. All the victims were labelled by the British Army as terrorists with guns. There is not a scrap of evidence to support this. All of the victims were unarmed civilians and the relatives want truth and justice.

Irene and Eileen were guests at the Annual Conference of Trades Union Councils. They were urging support for a motion backing their campaign for an independent investigation into the killings. The motion was put on the agenda by the West Midlands County TUC, originally proposed by Coventry Trades Union Council.

They spoke at a fringe meeting organised by Coventry. Delegates at the fringe meeting were so moved by the Ballymurphy story that they negotiated for Irene Connolly to speak to the main conference. She was given a standing ovation and the delegates went on to unanimously support the resolution for a full independent investigation into the killings.

The relatives will not accept an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005. It would be controlled by the British Government and therefore not independent as British soldiers, carried out the atrocity.

Coventry Trades Union Council became involved in the Ballymurphy Campaign as a result of one of their members attending the Troops Out Movement’s Annual Delegation to Belfast. They have given tremendous support to the campaign since. The delegate stayed with one of the families and invited campaign members to come over to Coventry to tell their story. As a result of this they have taken the campaign into the wider trade union movement.

At the end of the Trades Councils Conference the TUC agreed to write to all trades unions urging support for the Ballymurphy Campaign and to lobby MPs and MEPs.

Irene Connolly and Eileen McKeown expressed their appreciation for the work the Troops Out Movement have done in highlighting the case in England over the last three years.

Nora Mccabe, killed with a Plastic Bullet – Judicial Review exposes lies & DPP failure to prosecute senior RUC officers for perjur.

Following the recent judgement in Belfast High Court, Jim McCabe, the husband of Nora McCabe who was killed by a plastic bullet fired by an RUC patrol on July 9th 1981made the following statement:

“The official account of the murder of Nora was that there was rioting at the time, that there were burning vehicles, barricades, and that the RUC patrol from which the fatal shot was fired was under attack from petrol bombers. This morning’s judgement has stated that this was not the case when Nora was shot.

We have always known that those responsible for Nora’s murder lied in order to cover-up their actions and seek some sort of warped justification for shooting Nora.

Today that lie stands exposed and the record is set straight publicly, lest there exist any doubt from any quarter.

In this regard myself and three children feel absolutely vindicated in initiating legal action which has been crucially important in determining this truth. We have always believed that there should have been prosecutions concerning Nora’s murder and for all those RUC members who perjured themselves.

The failure of the then Director of Public Prosecutions ( DPP), Alastair Fraser (now Sir Alastair Fraser), who oversaw the case, to prosecute those responsible for Nora’s murder has always been a source of great distress and upset to our family – effectively justice was denied and deliberate lies permitted to prevail for which he must be ultimately responsible.

The court stated that there was no doubt amongst DPP/PPS officers that there existed significant factual conflicts between the evidence of a number of police officers and the events as recorded by the Canadian film crew who were present at the time of the shooting. The judgement clearly said that consideration should have been given to the offence of perjury. It is precisely because of this failure that no one person/s were charged with Nora’s murder.

To have pursued those who perjured themselves was to open up the case to further scrutiny and thus lift the lid on what was obviously a cover-up involving senior RUC officers. It is our considered view that a systemic cover-up took place across the RUC and then DPP concerning the murder of an innocent mother of three.

In terms of the ‘delay’ in taking the case we do not accept the reasoning of the judgement. People need to be fully mindful of the political environment and implications of such a case being taken during the period of the 1980s and 90s. It is our firm belief that any attempted action would not have been granted relief in the then circumstances. This too must also bear in mind the failure by the DPP to disclose information concerning their decision-making not to prosecute at the time.

In some senses we were able to avail of video evidence that recorded the events leading up to and after Nora’s murder and challenge the lies. Many other families experienced similar policies of misinformation concerning the murders of their loved ones, yet are unable to legally overturn these ‘official’ lies – hopefully today they too can take some comfort from this judgement in that the most senior RUC officer in West Belfast at the time, and who was present with the officer who murdered Nora, lied about the what actually took place.

This was a pattern that we know was repeated time and time again in many other murders by the RUC.

Setting right this wrong is important for everyone.”

Jim McCabe has been a regular campaigner in England as the guest of the Troops Out Movement. He has met us regularly in Belfast as part of the Relatives for Justice (RFJ)  team who have hosted our recent delegations. We congratulate Jim, the McCabe family and RFJ on their unwavering commitment to unearthing the truth.

Troops Out Movement Speakers and Videos available

We are offering speakers and video shows to interested organisations – trade unions political parties, community organisation etc.

We have videos on Irish History, Collusion, The Hunger Strike, Bloody Sunday, Women & Ireland etc.

 Get in touch if you could use us.

£££££   FUND-RAISING   ££££

It takes a lot of money to function as a campaigning organisation. We need donations to maintain our national office, produce new leaflets, get speakers over from Ireland, organise the delegation etc. Please consider making a standing order for say £5/£10 a month contact details on front page and we’ll send out a form.  Any donation would be appreciated.

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