The Saville Report has finally exonerated the dead of Bloody Sunday. The list of war-crimes and shameful lies are exposed, David Cameron apologises in Parliament to the bereaved and to the community.
But even as the families of the murdered were offering their thanks for the truth, and their forgiveness and reconciliation in a heartfelt attempt to achieve peace for their community, the press and police helicopters delivered a chattering heckle of disrespect overhead.
They just won't let go. Even after all the time wasted and money spent wringing the triuth out, and clearing the names of the innocent, they insist on the last word. On spoiling the party.
But the question remains. If British soldiers can do that to British citizens, what can they do to less familiar prey, and when under less intensive scrutiny?
Heroes? Don't make me laugh.
The slaughterhouse of competing nationalisms which is Northern Ireland only accentuates the absurdity and futility of fighting for lines on a map. A random, irrelevant commonality which can only divide to rule.
This is the trap of nationalism, of any kind.The disputed land and heritage doesn't go away, and so the crimes of each generation are justification for the crimes of the next generation, and until they all
"Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot whereon the numbers cannot try the cause, which is not tomb enough and continent to hide the slain."
The religious slaughterhouse is even more absurd and archaic. When the people of northern Ireland discover the real things they have in common, there will be progress, as eveywhere else.
The other interesting aspect of this report was the fact that evidence was provided by the Sunday Times Insight team, raising questions of press confidentiality. My question is, how much more incriminating evidence of other state crimes is still hidden in the vaults of Wapping or Canary Wharf? The case of Blair Peach might be a lot more clear-cut if we knew everything the reporters and photographers on the day saw and recorded. Not to mention the killings at Ballymurphy, which preceded Bloody Sunday, and seem to have been at least as cold-blooded.
'Unequivocal', 'unjustified', 'clear', 'wrong'.
It was magnificent to hear the silence from all the usual suspects in Parliament as the true horror sunk in. All the vindictive, moaning, penny-pinching apologists and quibblers who were primed to launch into their usual whines about the burden on the taxpayer of the enquiry, and the 'hypocrisy' of subjecting the British Army to such persistent scrutiny. 'Whatabout the soldiers who were killed? Whatabout their rights?' they were about to ask. But they didn't. They were dumbstruck by what all the eye-witnesses had confirmed all along. And all Diddy Cameron had to do was read the perfect script. 'Unequivocal', 'unjustified', 'clear', 'wrong'.
The ultimate confirmation of the Saville report was of the truthfulness and decency of ordinary human nature. Anyone who shared and had faith in people always believed the testimonies of those who were there, testimonies which were vindicated by Saville. We believed, but we simply couldn't prove what we believed in the face of the most disgraceful Vuvuzela of media collusion with the state to overwhelm the truth with noise.
Even Saville, for all its clarity, still decided that the fault lay in a 'serious loss of fire discipline.' This is to fall into the trap of applying military dialect to a human crime. This many 'rotten apples' do not happen to all be in the same place at the same time. The problem was, and is, systemic and cultural, and the loss was one of Humanity, not discipline. The troops in Northern Ireland, as everywhere still, were trained to regard all other human beings with suspicion. They were dehumanised towards their fellow creatures. And there is no evidence that this desensitising regime is any different today. It is part of every soldier's weaponry - what makes it possible for them to use their weapons and kill on demand in the first place.
There are some hard-line sectarian complaints about the lack of a Saville Enquiry into unionists killed in the Troubles, which is of course a totally seperate issue and shows their usual lack of political vision. How many Unionists were killed by British soldiers or the RUC? At least PIRA had the honesty and far-sightedness to take responsibility for its actions at the time, however horrific and inhuman. The British State persistently and continually lied about its murders, and so did the gutter press on its behalf.
So if these were murders, when are those responsible to face justice? The key is surely in the legal defintion of responsibility. If I were 'private F' on trial for my actions on the day, my lawyer would simply plead that I was temporarily not of sound mind, and proceed to a rigorous examination of exhibit A, the process of desensitisation all soldiers are subjected to in order to do their jobs. No jury would convict, and I would probably be liable for some level of compensation.