Just how important are the findings of the Saville Report on Bloody Sunday for the Nationalist community of Northern Ireland cannot be overestimated. Bloody Sunday was a seminal moment in the history of the province. It created the gulf between the security forces and a significant section of the local population that was never healed.
The Provisional IRA was almost finished before Bloody Sunday. Its numbers were down to around 30 and its popularity within the community was on the wane. But Bloody Sunday reinvigorated the Provisionals and they never again lost support.
The extraordinary misjudgement of the Army and the Government has never been fully detailed before now. In our film, Secret History: Bloody Sunday, which was shown almost 20 years ago, we revealed the extent of the cover-up and the serious questions that still hung over the whole episode. During almost two years of research, we spoke to almost everyone involved, including a number of the soldiers and many of the officers as well as the victims and their families and hundreds of witnesses. Saville has backed up our findings and brought some further clarity to the events of the day.
I have no doubt that some of the soldiers – especially those around the front of the Rossville Flats – believed that they had come under fire. The sound of the first shots, fired by the Lieutenant over the heads of the crowd, reverberated from the front of the Flats and those coming up the central spine felt that they were under fire. The soldiers on the other side of the infiltration area – around Glenfada Park – almost certainly knew that they were not under attack and fired recklessly and with utter abandon.
Those soldiers had been wound up by the officers to a high pitch. They had not been fed for two days and then were given raw steak in the hour before the mission. As they unloaded from their armoured personnel carriers they were urged to ‘Go, Paras, Go – Go Get ‘Em’ by the senior officers. Any attempt to lay the blame firmly at the door of the squaddies would be misplaced. There is no doubt that some of the personnel acted viciously and with no provocation but they had been stretched to such a pitch by those in charge that it really is no wonder. If any charges are to be brought then they should be brought against the senior officers involved and possibly all the way up to higher echelons of Whitehall and Heath Government.
However, I know from my extensive dealings with the families that this is not the wish of the vast majority. They now have what they wanted – an admission that the whole exercise was misguided, unlawful and reckless. To bring individual charges against individual soldiers would open a whole new can of worms that extends throughout the time of the Troubles. While there has been no full ‘Truth and Reconciliation Committee’ in the Six Counties there is a widespread understanding among the community today that the Troubles are behind them and that to reopen old wounds would only cause a renewal of bad feeling and possible hostility – no one wants a return to violence.
Our film and the subsequent documentary by Peter Taylor of the BBC helped to trigger the renewal of calls for a full and open inquiry into Bloody Sunday and thus opened a door for the Good Friday agreement. Those films were the catalyst that began the process and I am delighted today that our findings have been vindicated. That it took 18 years after the films were shown for the results to be published is a damning indictment of our judicial system. £200 million is far too high a price for elementary justice and will act as a deterrent for others who wish to re-examine serious crimes of the past.
We now need to urgently examine the processes of our judicial establishment to determine a better way of running inquiries of this kind, for they are fundamental planks in the protection of our human rights. An inquiry into the inquiry may seem like a costly and needless expense on top of the huge sums of money already spent but it is absolutely necessary to re-establish a methodology for such situations.
In the meantime we should share the relief and joy of the families that justice has finally been seen to be done and look forward to a better and more peaceful future for an area that has suffered so much division and violence over such a long period of its history.
Tony Cook was the Chief Researcher on Praxis Films award-winning documentary ‘Secret History: Bloody Sunday’ shown in 1992 on Channel 4
Labour's 1983 election campaign has long been used to say it is impossible for a leader like Jeremy Corbyn to win any election from the left. Alex Nunns digs out the truth
The snap general election represents a unique opportunity to defeat this terrible government. We believe that visual artists have a crucial role to play!
Drax is the UK's biggest source of CO2 emissions – and we're paying for it, writes Almuth Ernsting
For the past 3 years, Barby Asante and members of London-based artists' collective, sorryyoufeeluncomfortable, have been responding directly to the vision of James Baldwin. Ahead of the nationwide release of a new film about the American activist and author, they reflect on the enduring relevance of Baldwin in Britain today.
Housing campaigners' gains in Bristol are spurring on a national movement to build a renters' union, writes Stuart Melvin
A new Espionage Act threatens whistleblowers and journalists, writes Sarah Kavanagh
We need an anti-austerity alliance, not a vaguely progressive alliance, argues Michael Calderbank
Rahila Gupta talks to Kimmie Taylor about life on the frontline in Rojava
It may seem as though these apps are working for us, but we are also working for the apps, writes Kurt Iveson
It's over 100 years ago that domestic workers began to organise to demand the same rights as other workers. Yet with LSE cleaners on strike this week, historian Laura Schwartz asks: how much has really changed?
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.
West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective
How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences
The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally
Event: Take Back Control Croydon
Ken Loach, Dawn Foster & Soweto Kinch to speak in Croydon at the first event of a UK-wide series organised by The World Transformed and local activists
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change
Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces
Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond
On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network
Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter
#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement
Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.
Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees
Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides
The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari
Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next
Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace
Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill
Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility
Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports
From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices
How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed
In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design
Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform