Perjury Charges and Bloody Sunday

Martin Galvin with a letter to the Irish News which initially featured in the paper on 14 March 2014.

A chara,

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.


  1. What a wonderfully poignant line :

    Surely perjury in a mass murder cover-up is no minor crime even when the victims were Irish civil rights marchers.

    The whole thing reads as smooth as poetry to me.

  2. The rich will always betray the poor, the powerful the powerless. And that's the way it'll always be, right to the end of time.

    The Irish ceded power yet again to their masters with the GFA, an agreement that wrote the unionist veto into international law and coper-fastened partition for a long, long time to come.

    People got what they voted for; Nationalist relinquishment of a constitutional underpinning of their aspiration for unity and gained promises of parity of esteem, which of necessity included parity between former combatants, parity between former republicans and loyalists such as Michael Stone. Under the agreement are British squadies not reasonably entitled to have an expectation to benefit too?

    Surely the responsibility for all this rests squarely on the shoulders of a failed leadership that led the people down a path into yet another fudge?

    A passive response is a powerless response; claim your vote, claim your vote and use your vote. Vote independents, vote SDLP, even vote DUP, vote these pariahs out!

  3. There more to all of it than a fine tooth comb could extract.
    The dirty war has progressed into a filthy peace.

  4. henry joy, uve gone from asking us to vote sdlp to now vote the dup. mad, but i see where ur comin from. to think we used to give the stickies stick. the stickies werent the worst now lookin back. at least they stuck to their sticky guns, sf leadership hav their heads stuck up their own holes now, shower of stuckies. vote for dup and stickies is the republican way now.

  5. I feel it would be wrong for republican's to concede immunity for British soldiers who committed crimes. I am not against them getting the two years and then out, but immunity would be wrong. Not least because the British army has always claimed it was defending the rule of law.(that may well be crap but that is neither here nor there)

    Of course this presupposes they have not already been given immunity from prosecution. Perhaps not in writing but verbally by the commanding officer of their regiments?

    Who knows?

    The whole question of immunity is not one the British government would rush to open. But that does not mean SF cannot come clean, although I will not be holding my breath while waiting for them to do the right thing.

  6. Dirty war to filthy peace; spot on Nuala.

    There's no right nor wrong in it Mick at this stage. Though the events of Bloody Sunday were to define the course of much of my own life I can't in all honesty say that I'm strongly attached to redress by charges being brought against individual squadies; not in the context of all that has since unfolded through the 'Good' Friday Agreement.

    How do we ever get to untangle the nefarious web of all that passes for politics? ... Is truth possible from either British Colonialists or their Northern and Southern Free Stater interlopers?

    Why do some get letters of comfort whilst others such as Ivor Bell have to suffer continued harassment and persecution?
    Why do some present parity with the likes of Michael Stone as a 'good' deal?

    T'is truly a filthy peace.