29 Sept 2022

Troubles amnesty:'We won't let it go if takes another 46 years'-Eamonn McCann

McCann Bloody Sunday Pic
The annual Bloody Sunday March for Justice will take place on Sunday, January 27 next. At the recent launch of the 2019 event, organisers said that the theme of their campaign will hone in on the upper echelons of the British political and military establishments. The campaigners contend the outcomes of both the Widgery Tribunal and Saville Inquiry in effect let the upper tiers of the British hierarchy off the hook and placed the blame on those who carried out the killings on Bloody Sunday. During the announcement of the forthcoming demonstration at Guildhall Square, posters of General Michael Jackson, General Robert Ford, former British Prime Minister Edward Heath and General Frank Kitson were attached to the city Walls. Each of the posters had the word 'guilty' emblazoned across the faces of those named above. Eamonn McCann launched the event by saying: “The theme of the Bloody Sunday March has always been something to do with justice and truth. These things are very necessary, but we wanted to be more specific and more focused this year because over the last twelve months one of the questions that has arisen, and not just in relation to Bloody Sunday, is simply who is to be held responsible for massacres and atrocities perpetrated by representatives of the state and working class people across the north over the last 40 and more years? “Who is to be held responsible for that? Now, the usual mechanisms we are told are charges brought in court, if you have sworn inquiries and so forth. “But, we’ve had all those. And, what we see when we look back on it in the light of what is happening today-at the Ballymurphy Inquest and the horrible pain that the families of the victims of Ballymurphy are having to go through today, just like the families of the victims of Bloody Sunday had to suffer the same experience. “We have also the suggestion that the state authorities including the RUC Special Branch were deeply involved in the cover up of the McGurk’s bar massacre, just a month before before Bloody Sunday. “We’ve also had the Loughinisland incident and it has been proved that murder was committed with the assistance and knowledge of forces of the state. And yet, the only people arrested after the film which exposed this truth have been the journalists who did the exposure. “What we see here in every one of these cases is the state defending itself, refusing to acknowledge responsibility, declaring its own innocence. In effect, calling all those who know the truth about Bloody Sunday and the rest of it liars. That’s what’s happening here and we shouldn’t tolerate it. “And, even people who have no direct connection with the Bloody Sunday incident and the Bloody Sunday campaign should know if they look objectively at all the facts that the cover up continues in relation to Bloody Sunday. “My point is this if you can continue a cover up of Bloody Sunday even after two sworn public inquiries and after a report which in the initial few minutes after it was released we had this square (Guildhall) packed with people welcoming it and welcoming what David Cameron had to say about the Bloody Sunday massacre. When we look at it now, when we look at it from the vantage point of just a few days after the publication of the report, and the more we read it, the more it came into focus that the inquiry under Mark Savile pinned all the responsibility on privates and corporals and one sole middle ranking officer. “They said that they did it all. That nobody else was responsible. David Cameron was able to stand up in the House of Commons and had it beamed around the world that he accepted the report. Listen to what he said-read over it again. He was saying that these killings were carried out by rogue soldiers operating outside their military instructions. “Therefore, the British Army itself and the British state had no case to answer. “Savile found the British state innocent of the killings on Bloody Sunday. That is why we keep campaigning every year on the issue. “That is the common thread connecting all the atrocities that are still in the news. And, not just atrocities committed against nationalist people but all the atrocities committed by the British Army over the years. “And, the cover ups which over and over and over again-the lies and perjury which they’ve used to cover up their own killings and the way in which they have managed to escape the attention and analysis from the majority of the mainstream news media-that when people are frightened to look more closely at Bloody Sunday, but if they did look more closely at Bloody Sunday what they will see is state collusion and lies told at the Saville Inquiry, not just state collusion, but lies told at the Widgery Tribunal all those years ago. “Nothing has changed as far as the unwillingness of the state to tell the truth about its own role in Northern Ireland over almost half-a-century now. “That is what we are pursuing. All we are asking for is the truth. The thing they won’t give us is the truth and that’s no coincidence. They won’t give us the truth because the truth is damning. “It is damning of the Parachute Regiment, the British Army, the British Government and the entire British ruling class are steeped in the blood of innocent people here in the north of Ireland. We can’t let that go unchallenged. “If we allow the state to murder its citizens and there’s no comeback, what are we saying about democracy? What are we saying about the way we allow the state to look at us-as if we’re insects, whose deaths mean nothing? That they can crush under their feet and they don’t have to tell the truth? “This is a very fundamental issue we are talking about here. It’s not just about assuaging the grief of the relatives of Bloody Sunday in order that they can move on as they say. What it is about is clouding the truth about Bloody Sunday, so that they state can move on, so that the killers can move on. “The man most responsible for the Bloody Sunday killings and certainly most responsible for the cover up, the lies that went around the world is Michael Jackson. He was second-in-command of the Parachute Regiment in the Bogside on the day-a man who stood at the Rossville Street flats in broad daylight while 14 people were killed and 13 more were wounded and said on oath that he can’t remember seeing any of it. “Twenty times he said on the stand that he couldn’t remember sitting in the back of a land rover and a map spread out on his knees and drawing up the lines of fire with the soldier’s and where there victims were. Jackson did that and his superiors regarded him as a hero to be promoted to the very apex of the chain of command of the military forces across the water. “Bloody Sunday was an incident in world history. It wasn't just a Derry thing, it wasn't just a local thing, it was an incident in world history. When we look around the world back then and now we can see echoed in Fallujah and all over the Middle East. "In Brazil at the moment, in Sri Lanka we see state forces murdering innocent citizens. If were to drop out of this now and say, well its been 46 years, its gone on long enough. "If were to walk away from it now we wouldn't only be walking away from the issues arising from Bloody Sunday, we would be breaking solidarity with people around the world some of whom came here with their representatives to speak to us about Bloody Sunday. "We would be casting them aside. We would casting the Ballymurphy families aside, we would recasting the McGurk's bar families aside, the Loughinisland families. We represent them too. Because only the Bloody Sunday issue has had two sworn inquiries and still we haven't had the truth. "There are lessons to be learned from this. Lessons about the implacable  refusal of the ruling class everywhere in the world to accept responsibility for the maltreatment of citizens. "If we allow this to stand then we are allowing them to treat us as less than human. Because, if it isn't murder to kill one of us then we can't be fully human. We've got stand up for truth and for the most fundamental principles of human existence. "We will say to whatever political force that tells us to leave it alone, its gone on long enough, we need reconciliation, let's all move on-we are not going to move on, the only way we'll move on from this is to move on over them. "As we have said over and over again, we'll be marching even if there's only ten of us. "We will march on, we've come too far along this road to abandon the search for truth and justice now. "We will show them once again no matter how they lie, no matter how they try to deceive us, no matter the level of their perjury we will march on until we get the truth about Bloody Sunday. And, in getting the truth about Bloody Sunday we will shed a light on all the other atrocities that went on here and around the world. "We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our fellow citizens, we owe to other relatives who are grieving in the north of Ireland, and it's not too grandiose a thing to say-we owe it to humanity not to let this issue go. And, we won't let it go even if takes another 46 years."

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