Chilcot Report: '˜The hand of history should be on Blair's collar'
Local reaction to the conclusions of the Chilcot Report into Britain's decision to invade Iraq in 2003 has been widespread and highly condemnatory of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that Sinn Fein opposed the war in Iraq and the subsequent occupation.
“We challenged the British in the lead up to the war and took to the streets alongside hundreds of thousands of others to oppose the war. The Chilcot Report confirms our view that the war in Iraq was wrong; was not justified and should never have occurred.
“The role of British intelligence services in the lead-up to the war will come as no surprise to nationalists and republicans. The same services repeatedly conspired to destroy the peace process.”
SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan, said it was clear that the invasion of Iraq was based on a ‘false premise and a false promise.’
Speaking in the House of Commons after the launch of the Chilcot Report, Mr Durkan told David Cameron: “Those of us who come to the Report scandalised anew by the duplicity of presentation and the paucity of preparation on such grave matters must, nevertheless, remember most of those who are cruelly burdened today by their cruel sense of futility of sacrifice in terms of lives lost, lives devastated and lives changed.”
Echoing a statement made by Tony Blair during the signing of the Good Friday Agreement Mr Durkan continued:
“This is not a day for soundbites, but does the Prime Minister not agree the hand of history should be feeling someone’s collar.”
Frankie McMenamin was one of those who led anti-Iraq War protests in Derry before and during the conflict.
He told the ‘Journal’: “This was a case of soldiers sent out from working class communities and 176 of them lost their lives and at least one million people have died since 2003. “
Mr. McMenamin said he now wanted to see justice for those who were killed and that Tony Blair and others who took the decision, have to live with themselves and their consciences.
He continued: “They were told not to go into Iraq. They were told there were no weapons of mass destruction. Bush and Blair - it wasn’t their sons and daughters sent to war, it was the working class, mostly young soldiers. When Bush and Blair went into Iraq they opened up the gates to hell.”
People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann, who was at the forefront of anti-war protests, said that the conflict was motivated purely by the pursuit of natural resources.
“The Iraq war was about oil. The Chilcot Report shows that Tony Blair was entranced by George Bush, but he also had eyes for Iraq’s oil. It was the country’s misfortune to hold 10 per cent of the world’s known reserves.
“Chilcot was strong on the shady politics of war, but weak on the underlying motives.
“Five years ago the ‘Independent’ revealed that in the months leading up to the invasion, senior British Government officials secretly met representatives of Shell and BP a number of times precisely to discuss the disposal of Iraq’s oil once Saddam Hussein had been brought down.
“There was more to it, of course, but oil was never far from the minds of the main warmongers.
“In the first months of 2003, the streets of Derry, Belfast and cities around the world saw forests of placards pleading ‘No Blood for Oil.’ We didn’t succeed in stopping the war, but it is almost universally acknowledged now that the anti-war movement had got it right.
“Tony Blair has justly become the focus of the bereaved families anger. But he should also be seen as an agent of the impersonal underlying forces who drive the war agenda for the most venal of reasons - profit.
“Truth and honest politics were the casualties of war. The alienation of millions from the political process is, in part at least, a legacy of the cruelty and lies which hallmarked the conflict. The spilt now threatening the future of the British Labour Party is a continuation of a split over Iraq and involves many of the same politicians.”