The publication of the Saville Report confirmed, more than 38 years after that massacre, what the people of Derry, the people of Ireland and indeed the vast majority of the people around the world already knew – that these victims were completely innocent and that the British army had spent the past four decades lying and trying to cover up the truth of that massacre.
Unable to hide the truth any longer, British Prime Minister David Cameron, was forced into acknowledging the innocence of the victims and that the murders were completely unjustifiable. He was also forced into apologising for the massacre.
The report found that:
No warning was issued to the thousands taking part in that day’s civil rights march when the British army opened fired on it in 1972.
The British army did not open fire in response to petrol bombers, stone throwers or gun attacks.
Many of the dead and injured were shot while attempting to aid the wounded and dying.
None of the casualties posed a threat or done anything that would “justify” their being shot.
The British army lied about its actions on January 30 1972.
Following publication of the report, éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey praised the resiliance of the victims families.
“It has been their determination” Casey said “that has led, 38 years after the massacre, to a British Prime Minister being forced to apologise and admit to a British Parliament that British troops engaged in the mass murder of innocent Irish civilians on the streets of Derry."
“Despite the massive obstacles they faced over the decades, the families never gave up and insisted on ensuring that those victims of British state terror were exonerated and that the truth of that massacre be finally acknowledged publicly by, not just the army that carried it out, but also by their political masters.”
“This report is a damning indictment of the British army murder machine and its utter contempt for the lives of northern nationalist civilians and for truth and justice. For, contrary to the suggestion that this was somehow an “aberration” and that the British army had a “noble and honourable tradition” in Ireland, the reality is the complete opposite.”
He added: “The British army record in our country is a shameful and bloody one. It is one of intense repression, torture and murder against republicans and nationalists. They have been responsible for many similar type atrocities both before and after Bloody Sunday here in Ireland and in other countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan which they continue to occupy.”
“Indeed, only months before Bloody Sunday, in August 1971 the British army murdered 11 civilians, including a priest, in what is now known as the Ballymurphy massacre. Less than five months after Bloody Sunday, the British army once again carried out a massacre of 5 civilians in Springhill in West Belfast. Amonst those gunned down in cold blood were a priest and two children. Many more were injured.”
“In circumstances similar to what happened on Bloody Sunday, a number of those murdered in Springhill were shot as they attempted to assist others who were injured. To suggest that Bloody Sunday was an aberration or a rogue operation is to ignore the reality of British rule in Ireland and indeed elsewhere around the world”.
He concluded: "Bloody Sunday also has striking similarities with Israel's recent massacre of civilians on the Gaza aid flotilla. In both instances the military murdered unarmed civilians who posed no threat to them. In both instances, those murdered were engaged in campaigning for civil and human rights. In both instances the killers lied through their teeth, tried to cover up their crimes and attempted to blacken the names of those killed by making false accusations aginst them. In both instances the world has seen through their lies."
éirígí general secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith echoed those sentiments.
He said: “Today is, first and foremost, a victory for the families of the 14 dead. Their steadfastness and determination in demanding that Britain face up to what it did to their families on Bloody Sunday has been an inspiration to everyone in Ireland who cares about truth and justice. Even during the darkest days of the last 38 years, they never gave up, never stopped believing that they and the people of Derry were worthy of justice.”
“Today, for the first time ever, a British prime minister was forced to stand in his own parliament and apologise for a crime his government committed in Ireland. The people of Derry and the families of the dead should be deeply proud that they have brought this about. éirígí salutes their courage and integrity.”
Mac Cionnaith continued: “If David Cameron is truly sorry about what happened on Bloody Sunday he can do a few things to right the wrongs. Firstly, he can take his troops out of this country and Afghanistan, ensuring that never again will British soldiers run amok in cities and towns where they are not welcome.”
“Secondly, he can remove the whole apparatus of the occupation from Ireland and recognise the Irish people’s right to unity and self-determination. He can do likewise in Afghanistan.”
“When David Cameron does these things, we will know he and his government are sincere about righting the wrongs of the past.”
The full Saville report can be read by clicking here