Londonderry People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann has accused ex-Prime Minister David Cameron of hypocrisy over his Bloody Sunday apology saying, like Lord Saville, he absolved senior army officers and politicians of culpability and allowed the ordinary lance-corporals of the Parachute Regiment to shoulder all responsibility for the killings.
“The usual suspect commentators and politicians have been falling over themselves to heap praise on David Cameron for his apology for Bloody Sunday,” said Mr McCann.
“In fact, the apology was predicated on no politician or senior military man having been fingered by Lord Saville. Saville blamed one officer and 10 rank and file soldiers for all the killings and woundings,” he said.
Mr McCann said Mr Cameron, whose apology was beamed onto a big screen in Guildhall Square from Westminster in 2010, gave General Michael Jackson, Brigadier Frank Kitson, Major General Robert Ford, Brigadier Patrick MacLellan, Edward Heath, Lord Carrington, Reginald Maudling, Alec Douglas-Home, among other leading figures of the day, a clean bill of health whilst “damning the men who had pulled the triggers”.
He added: “This was a perfect example of an official inquiry fulfilling its true purpose - of finding small fry to shoulder all of the blame while enabling the real villains to escape scot-free.
“One of the main reasons Cameron’s ‘apology’ worked, at least for a time, is that influential elements in Northern Nationalism had, in effect, already ‘cleared’ his Commons statement. At least one member of Sinn Féin had discussed the terms of the apology with British officials in advance.
“The deal was that Cameron would acknowledge that all of the dead and wounded had been innocent and would condemn the privates and corporals involved in strong terms. But he wouldn’t have to say a bad word about anybody that the ruling class cared about.
“In exchange, there would be no more Bloody Sunday marches – and no attempt to push on for prosecutions. ‘This is as good as it gets,’ the families were systematically told on their doorsteps in the days after publication of the report..
“At this time, mid-2010, the British authorities were trying to put together an overall deal by which the past would be put in the past and we’d all ‘move on’.
“The stitch-up has unravelled, largely because some family members - Kate and Linda Nash, Liam Wray, Bubbles Donaghey, Mickey Bridge and others - weren’t prepared to accept the deal and opted instead to keep on marching until the original demands of the Bloody Sunday campaign, including prosecutions, had been met.
“Kate, Linda and the others were also conscious of the fact that calling off their campaign would be a kick in the stomach for the bereaved families of other atrocities - Ballymurphy, McGurk’s Bar, Kingsmills, Enniskillen, Birmingham, Loughinisland, etc – who hadn’t yet reached the stage achieved by the Derry campaign.
“The point to keep in mind as Cameron leaves Downing Street to spend more time with his money is that, far from bravely telling the truth about Derry, his Commons statement was just a new and more subtle phase in the efforts of apologists for State violence to escape the verdict of history.
“The proper response to Cameron’s departure is - good riddance.”