Saturday 24 February 2018

Maurice Hayes: Saville helps heal the hurt inflicted by Widgery Report

Maurice Hayes

Maurice Hayes

BY any standards, whoever the producer and director, the public presentation of the report of the Bloody Sunday inquiry in Derry was a dramatic event of the highest order, designed to make the maximum impact -- which it did.

It was, in fact, pure theatre, and closer than anything to classical Greek drama. There was the setting, outdoors, in the blazing sun; the procession of participants, actors and audience through the silent city streets; the set draped with banners and large-scale representations of the victims; the unity of time, place and action in a single arena even though the climactic speech was being delivered in London; and the Greek chorus of relatives and survivors with the threnodic invocation of the names of victims and the serial cry of release: "Innocent! Innocent! Innocent!"

However, the main purpose of the Greek play was catharsis -- the cleaning of the wounds and the purging of the soul of all but the noblest emotions, and whether this has been achieved remains to be seen. At the very least, events seem to have cauterised the wound for the families and the city caused by the massacre of the innocent and to have expunged the additional hurt, adding insult to injury inflicted by Lord Widgery and his long-discredited report.

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