I was standing in Guildhall Square in Derry yesterday with 12,000 people listening to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s apology for the killings of 14 innocent people on the Bloody Sunday parade of January 30 1972.
Judging by the rapturous applause from the crowd, most were as surprised as I was by the frankness of the statement. I have always understood that, whatever the lip service paid to law and order, the army was effectively immune. So this contradicted that understanding.
However, my prejudices about the army are grounded in experience during the early Troubles of witnessing the bullying manner and thuggery of the Parachute Regiment in particular and other regiments too.
I never had any doubt that the dead of Bloody Sunday were murdered, and I believe that many civilians were murdered by soldiers in Ballymurphy and Springhill and other areas.
Mr Cameron was conceding that the paras who killed on Bloody Sunday had disgraced the army and their country but insisting there would be no other open ended enquiries and that he believed the record of the army in Northern Ireland was a proud one. His concession is limited.
Perhaps he is allowing that the killers of Bloody Sunday will be the scapegoats for Britain’s excesses during the Troubles. And if the Republican community is of a mind to offer similar scapegoats, he appears to be hinting that the head of Martin McGuinness would be welcome.http://malachi.podcastpeople.com/redirect/media/39069malachi-o-doherty-39069mp3