'Failings' of Bloody Sunday report to be discussed at public meeting

Gerald Donaghy, aged just 17, when he was shot dead on Bloody Sunday.
Gerald Donaghy, aged just 17, when he was shot dead on Bloody Sunday.

A number of perceived failings in Mark Saville's report on Bloody Sunday including his controversial finding that 17-year-old Gerald Donaghy was carrying nail bombs when he was shot dead by members of the Parachute Regiment are to be discussed at an event in the City Hotel on Wednesday.

The Bloody Sunday March Committee, which has organised the meeting, said the Saville report's failure to examine Edward Heath's government's role and response to the events of January 30, 1972, and its apportionment of responsibility to a small number of squaddies and one minor ranking officer, would also be highlighted.

"Saville’s report has been marketed as a model for other families bereaved by State violence seeking the truth.

"This suggestion will be put under the microscope at the City Hotel meeting," the committee said.

“The crucial aspect of the report was that it piled all the blame onto low- ranking soldiers and one middle-rank officer. The top brass and the Tory politicians were left totally off the hook," it added.

“This not to deny the genuineness of the joy in Guildhall Square on the day the report was published. Everybody on the march committee shared in that feeling. With the disgraceful exception of Gerry Donaghy, all the dead and wounded were declared innocent. This signalled how far we had come.

“But we weren’t quite there yet.

The committee claimed that if Saville had "followed the evidence" then the "Parachute Regiment, the British Army as a whole and the British political establishment" would have been held to account.

Referring to the former British Prime Minister David Cameron's apology, which was beamed into Guildhall Square upon publication of the report eight years ago this Friday, the committee said: “Cameron was able to use the phrase ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’ because he wasn’t applying it to anybody anyone from the political or military establishments. The phrase was a calculated diversion.

“The report managed to insult the Ballymurphy families, too. It said that the people who had deployed the paras to police a civil rights march and had drawn up the battle-plan for the day had no reason to believe that such murderous violence would result.

“But murderous violence had been inflicted on the people of Ballymurphy less than six months previously by the self-same regiment. The military chiefs knew what they were doing when they ordered the same soldiers into the Bogside."

The meeting will take place in the City Hotel on Wednesday at 7.30 p.m.