The Saville Report has brought to an end the long-running campaign of the relatives of the victims of Bloody Sunday. The upbeat mood of the relatives following the publication of the report indicates that, for them, the truth has set them free, and has perhaps brought an end to a painful and difficult episode in the history of the Maiden City.

The justification given for twelve years of inquiry and almost £200 million of costs has been that the state was responsible for the unjustified killing of its own citizens. But the point has been made that no other group of victims will be accorded the same privilege. A friend of mine went through “Lost Lives” and came up with the following statistics for 1972, which sets the events of Bloody Sunday in context.

496 people were killed in 1972, including 12 in January before Bloody Sunday, and including two police officers murdered in the Creggan on the Thursday before Bloody Sunday. Of those killed in 1972,

  • 258 were civilians
  • 108 were regular soldiers
  • 26 were UDR soldiers
  • 17 were RUC officers (including the two mentioned above)
  • 74 were republicans
  • 11 were loyalists.
  • Republicans killed 279 people
  • Loyalists killed 121
  • the Army killed 79
  • the RUC killed 6

The totals don’t add up, but some deaths may not be attributed.

What is clear is that there are many relatives of innocent victims who will never be given the detailed accounts of what happened, nor will their killers ever be brought before an inquiry or a human court of law. Maybe the best way forward is simply to let the past be the past.

That does not mean that justice will not ultimately be done. Christians believe that we are headed to a day when all wrongs will be righted and when “justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). That “shalom” will bring relief and joy to all who have been treated unjustly. And everyone will acknowledge, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!” (Revelation 16:7). Under God’s righteous rule, we have the hope that every victim will ultimately get their own Saville Report.

Postscript: Here are Bono’s comments on the publication of the Saville Report.

2 Replies to “1972”

  1. Sadly the Saville Inquiry will notbe about innocence or justice, instead it will be use to create a new political narrative that the paramilitary campaigns of death and destruction were “justified”.

    The vicitms of “Bloody Sunday” deserve justice and the truth to be told, they deserve sympathy and support – especially from all churches but so do the other 3000+ vicitms. They also need the church to stand up and speak for them – sadly something that hasn’t been overtly done for a while.

  2. The Saville Report into ‘Bloody Sunday,’at one level,does not please me one bit and it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise.I have no problem with the overall findings – no reasonable person could.No,my issue is with the thousands of victims, on both sides,who will be forever denied an equivalent investigation.THIS IS PATENTLY UNFAIR.And it’s all jolly well going on about,’God’s righteous rule …. and ‘the hope that every victim will ultimately get their own Saville Report.’Tell that to all those who have been widowed,those left fatherless,etc etc.Tell that to the Primary 7 class that I took over after the Provos defiled and abused the children in their classroom,in order to pursue their ‘ legitimate target ‘ teaching principal.Has the church stood up for these people / children? Up to a point,but as I read it,the church has been big in sympathy,but minute in meaningful empathy.Not a hound’s gowl letter-wise between the two words,but a huge difference in meaning and application.I feel very strongly about this and ways MUST be found to address how thousands of us feel about such injustice.

    But I have an even bigger problem and one I would prefer not to address.
    As an indignant Protestant,I want my pound of flesh re meaningful investigations into all OUR terrorist-driven atrocities.BUT,outside the city walls in Jerusalem,someone gave much more than a pound of flesh to redeem me.And I was guilty.We can all agree that forgiveness is a lovely idea …. until we have something or someone to forgive.I can understand those who know nothing of His forgiveness in their lives being angry at what they see as blatantly unjust.But can redeemed rebels take the same view? I think not!Part of me doesn’t want to type this bit,but as C S Lewis once put it,’ We must hatch,or go bad.’ And becomimg a hardboiled egg won’t really advance His kingdom either.

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