Bloody Sunday Enquiry – The Verdict is In
Let me start by saying I was born in Belfast a couple of years before Bloody Sunday. I only say this as it makes me no more or less qualified to pass judgement than anyone else…
The events of the tragic day and the behaviour of the individuals who caused the death of so many innocent civilians were disgraceful. Pure and Simple. There can be no excuse for what was clearly a loss of control within the army units involved – no matter what the provocation. The army survives on discipline and self-control and clearly both of these things were missing that day. Vindication for the poor families of those who died is long overdue and therefore very welcome. They were simply innocent victims engaged in a legitimate protest.
So what next?
The obvious question is what to do now. Should the soldiers who are still alive be prosecuted and brought to “justice” after so many years? Should their commanders be hauled over the coals? The answer in my humble opinion is a very firm “no”. Were this enquiry to have been conducted properly 40 years ago (which would have been very difficult anyway) then certainly the commanders who lost control of their troops should have been prosecuted, and any of said troops found to have been guilty likewise. However the last 10 years has, we all hope, seen a sea change in the atmosphere in Northern Ireland. Whilst no one is naive enough to think that all sectarian issues have been removed, so much has changed and so many people on all side have been “forgiven” that to try and drag people through the courts now is likely to become a self-defeating and ultimately inflammatory event in itself, which could endanger some of the good work done to secure a peace, however fragile.
Rumour has it that Martin MacGuiness himself was wandering around Belfast that day with a sub machine gun. Well bully for him I say. That was then, this is now, and whilst I don’t condone any of the actions from 40 years ago I do applaud the efforts that have been made by all parties to try and secure a peaceful future for the country. So please let’s hope we can now move forward…
£192 Million – Surely Some Mistake…
Before we do that of course I have to mention the quite outrageous cost of this enquiry. As I state clearly above I am very pleased that the enquiry was undertaken and that the results are clear and unequivocal but I simply cannot comprehend how this could have taken 12 years and cost £192 million. I know in the current economic climate we tend to bandy around large numbers will no real sense of perspective (£6 billion budget cuts, £6 million Jonathan Ross Pay Packet) but surely now is precisely the time we should be “watching the pennies”. From my own parochial perspective up here in Cumbria, I know that £192 million would be enough to fund our local school for over 1,100 years. That’s an awful lot of SATs tests and school meals. Again I am not in any way trying to belittle what the Inquiry has achieved but I am absolutely and utterly shocked by the cost. Where did it all go? Even over 12 years that’s still £16 million a year, or about £80k every working day. That’s some cost base. The answer of course is that the whole process has enriched a generation of lawyers, legal firms and consultants. This is simply an outrage.
The next time we glibly call for a “public enquiry” let’s please make sure that it is not an excuse for paying a bunch of people too much money for taking too much and making no sense.
And as for Northern Ireland then please can we all move on together and help this beautiful country to prosper and grow….
Just a thought….