Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Alliance Party Reaction to the Saville Report

I've been a wee bit busy myself to actually look into the Saville report in depth. I have the Independent to gorge on later with 10 pages of coverage. However, overall it does appear to have cleared up 38 years of lies and the injustice that the Widgery report laid on the victims and their families.

Alliance Party Justice Spokesperson* Stephen Farry MLA issued the following statement:

"The party welcomes the outcome and conclusions of the Saville Inquiry. While the detail of the report will require serious scrutiny it is clear that this report confirms what has been understood for decades, that those killed by British forces on Bloody Sunday were completely innocent.

"It was right that Bloody Sunday was properly investigated and the rogue conclusions of Widgery consigned to the dustbin of history. The families and surviving victims have been vindicated in their campaign to secure justice, one which they have pursued with dignity and determination for many years.

"While not diminishing the widespread hurt and demands for truth and justice from all victims of violence, Bloody Sunday raises unique issues relating to the abuse of power and the breach of the rule of law by the state.

"This report closes one chapter, but in doing so, raises new questions as to what happens now. Any prosecutions will be considered independently by the Public Prosecution Service and will have to meet both the public interest and evidential tests.

"There are issues regarding the cost and the scale of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and any future investigations. The British Government has ruled out future inquiries but has not provided any indication of what it would put in their place. There is an outstanding need for a comprehensive approach to dealing with the legacy of the past in a manner which promotes reconciliation and builds a shared future. While far from perfect, Alliance did consider that the bulk of the Eames-Bradley proposals provided the basis for such a process. At best Eames-Bradley has been parked and there is no indication from the UK government as to how they intend to fill this void.

"Given the polarizing nature of the debate over the last number of years it is important that politicians on all sides are considered in what they say. We need to avoid using victims as weapons in a war of words if we are to build a shared future, nor should the Saville Report be used to undermine more widely the very good work done by the army in many other circumstances."

In the Commons chamber Paul Durkin the SDLP MP for Foyle said:

"However, perhaps the most important and poignant words from today will not be heard here or on the airwaves. Relatives will stand at the graves of victims and their parents to tell of a travesty finally arrested, of innocence vindicated and of promises kept, and as they do so, they can invoke the civil rights anthem when they say, 'We have overcome. We have overcome this day.'"

However, as the son of a son of Derry I was quite appalled by some of the unionist reaction. Gregory Campbell DUP (East Londonderry) wanted to draw the attention to the 2 policemen killed 3 days before, and calling for a investigation into the alleged 'state funding' of the IRA from the Republic of Ireland. Whilst I knew that 'parts of the city [of Derry] "lay in ruins"' before that day as he also said. Jeffrey Donaldson, William McCrae and Ian Paisley junior each raised further issues along such lines.

There is a matter that the previous government ignored the will of the House by announcing things outside it. The fact that David Cameron brought such a weighty report to the House itself first was hopefully a sign of the authority of the chamber. Therefore the point of order raised by Paisley at the end, when a debate in the Autumn on the report was already announced about the lack of preview copies seemed petulant. Yesterday wasn't the day for a full debate into the minutiae as the Unionists wanted to do, but to talk about the general reaction to the key findings. No doubt come the autumn Paisley and the DUP ranks will be fully versed in the ins and outs of the report.

*And the MLA for my home seat of North Down

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