Saville report 'after election'
Published 22/03/2010 | 15:20
The long-awaited report into the British army killings on Bloody Sunday may not be released until after the general election, the British Government confirmed.
Northern Ireland Secretary of State Shaun Woodward said government lawyers will this week begin legal checks of the 5,000-page document for potential national and personal security issues.
But he added that arrangements had been made for Lord Saville, who led the public inquiry into how 14 people were killed by British troops in Derry in 1972, to retain the report if a publication date cannot be secured before an election is called.
While bereaved relatives want an early publication of the report, which took 12 years to compile and cost £200m, Mr Woodward said in a statement to the Commons that he was legally obliged to have the checks carried out.
Mr Woodward added: "Once the checking process is complete, a publication date can be set and the report can be printed.
"It is, of course, possible that a general election might be called in the meantime. Lord Saville has informed me that if it becomes clear that it will not be possible for the report to be published in advance of the dissolution of Parliament, the tribunal will agree to retain custody of the report until after the general election."
Mr Woodward said relatives of the bereaved and injured, plus soldiers involved in the inquiry, would be offered early access to the report on the day of its eventual release.
"Publication of the report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry has been long-awaited and it promises to be a hugely significant event in Northern Ireland's history," he said.
"But this is also an occasion that will have an enormous impact on the private lives of ordinary people.
"I am determined to ensure that arrangements for publication are fair and reasonable, and at all times I intend to act reasonably in recognition of the interests of the families, soldiers and others involved in the inquiry, and of my obligations to Parliament."