Perjury Charges and Bloody Sunday
Following the belated but welcome dismissal of charges against John Downey, Peter Hain called for an amnesty for the Bloody Sunday troopers. This call presupposes that an undisclosed amnesty or de facto immunity was not long established British policy covering these troopers, and others in British uniforms that carried out shoot-to-kill or collusion murders for the crown, with impunity. Such a secret impunity arrangement would explain why the heralded constabulary investigation into the Bloody Sunday murders could go nearly two years with little to show beyond novel excuses for no arrests.
Perhaps we will one day learn that 187 Republicans were not the only recipients of written immunity certificates. Perhaps we will one day learn that British forces always enjoyed ironclad oral guarantees that the crown would never let down its defenders.
If Hain gets written Bloody Sunday immunity certificates, or even were an across the board amnesty for all pre-1998 conflict related actions declared, it should not spare the Bloody Sunday troopers from prosecution and imprisonment. Surely perjury in a mass murder cover-up is no minor crime even when the victims were Irish civil rights marchers.
The Bloody Sunday Paras gave testimony under oath in London, years after the Stormont Deal. Nothing said there could be used against them, if they at last told the truth. Each trooper had the opportunity, after 30 years of reflection, to express remorse or give the heroic Bloody Sunday families the truth those families deserve.
Instead these British troopers decided once again to blame their victims for getting in the way of the bullets. One Para after another swore to tell the truth then recited scripted cover stories of the sort whitewashed by Widgery. Saville remarked that these troopers “insisted that they had shot at gunmen or bombers, which they had not” and had “knowingly put forward false accounts in order to justify their firing.” His words seem polite judicial speak for proclaiming ‘GUILTY OF PERJURY’.
These British troopers should long ago have been in the dock on murder charges. However it cannot be overlooked that so many committed a separate post-agreement crime of perjury in a murder cover-up. Put some less culpable troopers in the dock facing jail on perjury charges and we might well hear some truth about those who shot and those who gave orders. Of course that presupposes that the British were serious about these prosecutions.