Bloody Sunday was a horror, among many Troubles horrors

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The decision to charge only one soldier over the Bloody Sunday killings in 1972 was a surprising development.

It was surprising because there had been much speculation about what was going to happen, and most of it assumed there would be several trials.

It would have been unthinkable that anyone in the prosecutor’s office had been leaking such critical information and in the end it was clear that there had been no such leak.

However, the result was a disappointment for the families. What happened that day was, as the prime minister David Cameron said, unjustified and unjustifiable. It was an appalling stain on the record of the British army.

Not only that, it helped destabilise Northern Ireland, which terrorists had already destabilised gravely, and by mid 1972 the Province was on the brink of civil war.

It was the security forces who stopped us tipping into that. The fine overall record of the security forces during the Troubles makes it all the more unforgivable when a tiny number of them acted on occasion in a despicable fashion.

For the families at Bloody Sunday, there is the additional horror that they died at the hands of members of the state.

In no way should it be seen as an attempt to detract from their grief to point out that there is a huge amount of unresolved trauma from the Troubles. The biggest unresolved sector, by a distance, is terror victims and their loved ones.

This is in part because terrorists became accomplished at what they did and operated with relative freedom in the Republic of Ireland.

Yet, not only is Dublin now agitating heavily on legacy, pushing uncomfortable cases for the UK at the Council of Europe, the Stormont House structures have no specific way of getting to the bottom of Ireland’s role in the Troubles.

This makes it all the more disturbing that yesterday Karen Bradley was talking about implementing those structures soon. We now need an effort to mobilise against this plan.