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Saturday 10 December 2016

Bloody Sunday soldiers like 'Nazi stormtroopers'

David McKittrick and Michael McHugh

Published 17/06/2010 | 05:00

Fallout from the Saville Report on Bloody Sunday continued yesterday with a former senior British army officer describing the soldiers involved in shootings as "more like Nazi stormtroopers than British paratroopers".

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Colonel Richard Kemp, who served seven tours of duty in Northern Ireland and commanded British troops in Afghanistan, said his immediate reaction to the report was that "guilty soldiers should be jailed for a long time".

He went on: "I think that the actions we have heard described are much more like the actions of Nazi stormtroopers than British paratroopers."

Opinions, meanwhile, differed on the question of whether the authorities should attempt to bring prosecutions against paratroopers involved in the Derry shootings following Saville's conclusions that 13 people who were killed had been shot without justification.

Stephen Pollard, lawyer for soldiers, argued they should not be, saying Saville had "cherry-picked" evidence.

Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service said it was investigating whether witnesses committed perjury at the inquiry, in the light of the report finding that some witnesses had given evidence which they knew to be untrue.

Meanwhile, senior Tory party member Norman Tebbit argued yesterday that the victims of the IRA Brighton bombing, in which he and his wife were injured, were as entitled to a public inquiry as those of Bloody Sunday.

Five people were killed in the attack in 1984 when the IRA blew up a hotel where high-ranking Conservatives were staying.

Also yesterday, one of the main drivers behind the peace process, Denis Bradley, said the British government has yet to grasp the thorny issue of Northern Ireland's violent past.

He also warned of the burden facing policing if the service has to launch another major investigation into the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings.

British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised after the report exonerated those killed and wounded when soldiers opened fire in Derry.

Mr Bradley said further questions remained after he and former Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Robin Eames drew up a report on dealing with victims of the Troubles.

"There are not going to be a thousand Savilles and I suppose my disappointment around our report is that our local politicians have not debated it, engaged with it, or seen it and the two governments (Belfast and London) have been reluctant to grasp it," he said.

Legacy

"I think that part of the fallout today is that if you don't grasp Eames/Bradley you have to grasp something and I don't know what that something is and therefore I think our report is very much back on the agenda and if not to us where do you look?"

Among the Eames/Bradley recommendations are a legacy commission to deal with more than 3,000 unresolved murders.

The previous government ruled out a £12,000 (€14,400) payment to all victims and the new administration has said the near-£200m (€240m) cost of Saville was far too much. There are predictions the Tories will not proceed with Eames/Bradley.

Mr Bradley said one of the reasons they had called for a legacy commission was because Saville was always going to find that Bloody Sunday was unjustified. "What I am unclear about is that it may now go to the police, which burdens policing again with what could be another major demand from the past," he added.

He described the prime minister's statement as new and important and praised the role of church leaders. "I do think that people in the Protestant community and the unionist community will say 'well what about us?' and they have a very valid question," he said.

Ivan Cooper, who organised the original march, called for prosecution of senior soldiers and added the bereaved had been vindicated.

Irish Independent

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