38 years after killings, Bloody Sunday report to be unveiled
Published 15/06/2010 | 05:00
Thirty-eight years after 13 lives were lost on the streets of Derry, Britain's Lord Saville will today finally unveil his long-awaited report on the events of Bloody Sunday.
The keenly awaited document will be published this afternoon, with British Prime Minister David Cameron making a statement in the House of Commons outlining its findings and giving his government's preliminary response.
British ministers yesterday received their first sight of the document, which is the result of the longest-running and costliest inquiry in British legal history. The investigation cost almost £200m (€240m).
One of the most controversial of the many thorny issues involved is whether the report could lead to prosecutions of British paratroopers who fired fatal shots on the day.
There will also be keen interest on the role of senior British army officers and indeed of their political masters. There will also be a focus on whether Lord Saville accepts the testimony of Martin McGuinness that he and other IRA members were present on Bloody Sunday but were unarmed.
Mr McGuinness said yesterday: "The citizens of Derry, to a man and woman, want Saville to make it absolutely clear that the 27 people who were shot on that day -- murdered and injured -- were completely innocent people."
Whatever its conclusions, the report is not expected to satisfy all sides, since some of the relatives of those killed are demanding prosecutions.
On the other hand, former military commanders in Britain have been speaking up strongly in defence of the soldiers involved.
Field marshal Edwin Bramall, who commanded troops during the Falklands war, said: "When you think of all the pardons that have been dished out to the IRA, I think it would be terribly wrong all these years later if undue punishment was dished out on British soldiers."
Major general Julian Thompson said it was time to draw a line under the issue "unless we want to go and prosecute all the IRA guys who murdered as well".
Liam Wray, whose brother James was killed, said that the roles of senior military and political figures should be considered, declaring: "That's the soldiers who pulled the triggers, the commanders who sent them in to do that, and the politicians who were behind that again.
"They should all be brought to book for their responsibility."
Britain's Justice minister Ken Clarke, meanwhile, attacked the form of the Saville inquiry without making reference to its conclusions. It was a "disaster in terms of time and expense", he said. He said he was considering how to ensure future inquiries by judges could be be handled more efficiently.
The report is being held under tight security in advance of its official release, with relatives and representatives of soldiers being given just a few hours to study its conclusions.
Inquiry was costly, but its value is the main concern - analysis page 21