Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Saville -dignity and truth in Derry and the Commons

We've been waiting all day for the conclusions of the Saville report to be delivered by David Cameron. People in Derry have been waiting a lot longer for the stunning, unequivocal and unambiguous apology that it was.

It might have been 12 years in the making but the Saville report is a devastating indictment of the British Army's conduct during an event that one of my older friends recalled this morning as the day Northern Ireland "went psychotic".

Cameron managed a difficult task with great dignity. The events of 38 years ago cannot rebound on him as Prime Minister, he was only five years old at the time. But, as he reminded the Commons, he is old enough to remember how murderous the IRA was. He wrote speeches for Ian Gow who was killed by the Provisionals.

But the Bloody Sunday march was a civil rights demonstration not a republican one and it was fitting that in the Commons Mark Durkan, the SDLP MP for Foyle, read out the names of all the dead.

“These men were cut down when the marched for justice in their own streets,” he said.

When he sat down, evoking the anthem of the civil rights movement “we shall overcome, this day”, he was in tears.

Before that he had read a verse from Seamus Heaney’s poem, The Road to Derry, with it's line: “And in the dirt lay justice like an acorn in the winter”.

"My heart besieged by anger, my mind a gap of danger,
I walked among their old haunts, the home ground where they bled;
And in the dirt lay justice like an acorn in the winter
Till its oak would sprout in Derry where the thirteen men lay dead."

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