Saturday, June 19, 2010
Following the issuing of a 5,000 page judicial inquiry, British Prime Minister David Cameron has apologized for the killings 38 years ago in Northern Ireland known as "Bloody Sunday":
Prime Minister David Cameron offered an extraordinary apology on Tuesday for the 1972 killings of 14 unarmed demonstrators by British soldiers in Northern Ireland, saying that a long-awaited judicial inquiry had left no doubt that the “Bloody Sunday” shootings were “both unjustified and unjustifiable.”
“What happened should never, ever have happened,” Mr. Cameron said in a House of Commons statement. “The families of those who died should not have had to live with the pain and hurt of that day, and a lifetime of loss. Some members of our armed forces acted wrongly. The government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces. And for that, on behalf of the government — and indeed our country — I am deeply sorry.”
Still at issue is the prosecution of the military involved:
While the inquiry seemed to settle the issue of responsibility for the killings, the government in London will still have to tackle the difficult question of whether any of the soldiers involved, or their commanders, should be exposed to the possibility of criminal prosecution, or be granted an indemnity, as the opposition Labour Party’s acting leader, Harriet Harman, urged in the Commons in her response to Mr. Cameron’s remarks.
What isn't at issue is, as the Prime Minister stated, the unjustifiable nature of the killings–and the destructive effect they had on "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland:
The outburst of violence that followed effectively ended a nonviolent campaign for civil rights and led to three decades of sectarian strife that claimed more than 3,600 lives. Within weeks of the shootings, another Conservative prime minister, Edward Heath, suspended the Parliament in Belfast and imposed direct British rule, which lasted until the 1998 Good Friday peace pact ushered in the new era of power-sharing in Belfast.
...In effect, the prime minister endorsed almost every contention that the victims’ families had made over the decades: that the British commander should not have ordered the troops to open fire; that the army fired the first shots; that no warning was given before the army fusillade began; that “none of the casualties” were carrying a firearm; and that some soldiers had “knowingly put forward false accounts” of their actions.