The victims of Bloody Sunday have been vindicated. The Parachute Regiment has been disgraced. The truth has been brought home at last. Widgery’s great lie has been laid bare.
It can now be proclaimed to the world that the dead and the wounded of Bloody Sunday were innocent one and all, gunned down in their own streets by soldiers who had been given to believe they could kill with perfect impunity.
The Parachute Regiment is the front-line assassin for Britain’s political and military elite. The report of the Saville Tribunal confirms this. It was the paras mission in Derry to massacre people they thought of as enemies of the state. They will have known that murder is what was expected of them when they erupted onto our streets.
Bloody Sunday wounded Derry. We may hope that from today we can begin to bind up those wounds. But we recognise, too, that the issues arising from the Report go wider and deeper than Derry’s concerns.
When the state kills its citizens it is the interests of all that those responsible be held to account. It is not just Derry, or one section of the people of Derry, it is democracy itself that needs to know what happened here on January 30 1972. The British people need to know. The world needs to know.
Our campaign in the first instance was for justice for our loved ones. But we didn’t fight only for ourselves. We have tried to stand in the place of others who have suffered the same grief and grievous wrong at the hands of unaccountable power and who may never win any official inquiry, who may never have their truth told. We are mindful of the victims of the Ballymurphy massacre by men of the Parachute Regiment in August 1971, of the families of the two men murdered by the paras on the Shankill Road in September 1972. And of all families bereaved by the paratroopers and other state forces over the course of the conflict. And of all who have died here, from whatever background, at whomever’s hand.
Bloody Sunday was the price the Bogside paid for Free Derry. So it is, always and everywhere. Just as the civil rights movement of 40 years ago was part of something huge happening all over the world, so the repression that came upon us was the same as is suffered by ordinary people everywhere who dare stand up against injustice. Sharpville. Grozny. Tiananmen Square. Dafur. Fallujah. Gaza. Let our truth stand as their truth too.
Bloody Sunday was a great injustice. But the fight for truth and justice has been an inspiration, too. It has deepened our sense of who we are. And made us more aware, that we are also citizens of the world. Nobody who struggles for justice will be a stranger here. Nobody who dies in the struggle for justice will be forgotten here.