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The Saville Report June 16, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in Irish History, Northern Ireland.
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As we all know from the wall to wall media coverage, Lord Saville’s report into Bloody Sunday has reached the only possible conclusion, establishing definitively the innocence of all those marchers murderered and wounded by the Paratroopers, and burying once and for all the travesty that was the Widgery report. Its 5,000 pages run to ten volumes, so few people will ever sit and read the whole thing. Chapters 1-5 of volume 1 give its principal conclusions and overall assessment. The superb Guardian Bloody Sunday mini-site also has them in an easier to read format. One of the interesting, and I suppose inevitable, things about the report is that even though it reaches firm conclusions about what happened, and is very clear that the soldiers’ firing was “unjustified and unjustifiable”, it remains much more tentative about whether the soldiers were justified or rational in thinking themselves under attack.

We have concluded that the explanation for such firing by Support Company soldiers after they had gone into the Bogside was in most cases probably the mistaken belief among them that republican paramilitaries were responding in force to their arrival in the Bogside. This belief was initiated by the first shots fired by Lieutenant N and reinforced by the further shots that followed soon after.

There are other areas of confusion and uncertainty as well, due to the contradictory nature of the evidence presented. For example, some people thought there was one Fianna in Derry, and others two. Given the number of witnesses and the number of issues such as these that the Inquiry had to come to a view on, it’s no wonder the report is so long.

The basic conclusions of the report have been summarised by the BBC. As far as I can see, they are as follows. The first and most important conclusion is obviously that none of the victims on the day was doing anything that justified their being shot.

None of the casualties was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, or indeed was doing anything else that could on any view justify their shooting.

Given that the soldiers had from the day itself sought to justify their actions by saying that they had been fired on first, and that Widgery had concluded that many of those killed had been involved in handling weapons on the day, the question of who fired first was a crucial one. There were a small number of shots fired at the British army, although the number of incidents is unclear, as is the identity of those responsible for all of the putative incidents. It seems around 8 shots were fired by the Official IRA. The Inquiry has concluded that all shots fired at the British Army were fired after the British Army had begun shooting.

The question of who fired first centred on a shot fired from a .303 rifle by a member of the Official IRA from Columbcille Court towards soldiers at a Presbyterian church near William Street. The first people shot that day were Damien Donaghey and John Johnston, who were shot in waste ground beside William Street by these soldiers. The Inquiry has accepted that it was the soldiers who fired first. Even if that hadn’t been the case, as the Inquiry points out, the shots that were fired at the British army both then and later in no way justified the actions of the troops on the day.

Saville’s account of this incident, and attitude towards the evidence given by soldiers and others, is indicative of something within the report that seems to me to have gone largely unremarked. While heavily criticising the soldiers, it at the same time supports elements of the version of events presented by the army subsequently, or that are unfavourable towards the army’s opponents. In this case, the report does not accept that the OIRA members were in Columbcille Court to move the rifle as claimed, but rather that they were there to snipe at the army when the opportunity presented itself. Most people will have seen Martin McGuinness on the TV responding angrily to the report’s conclusion that he was carrying a Thompson sub-machine gun on the day of the march, but that there is insufficient evidence to state that he fired it. This seems to me to be another area where the Inquiry is making some effort to accomodate the military’s version of events. Similarly with the case of Gerald Donaghey, whose body was famously photographed with nailbombs in his pockets. I think it’s fair to say that most people in Derry believe these were planted afterwards to provide some evidence for the British Army’s version of events. Personally, the idea that civilians would drive someone to hospital with nailbombs so obviously sticking out of his pockets does seem unlikely. The Inquiry however has accepted that he was carrying the nailbombs, when saying there was no reason to believe that he had tried to use them, especially given the fact that he was not even the target of the shot that killed him, passing as it did through another victim before hitting him. More generally, the Inquiry finds it likely that witnesses who were members of both the Officials and the Provisionas were evasive and dishonest about the weapons and explosives available to them. So I think that the Inquiry did more to accomodate the military’s version than has been brought out so far.

The military reaction to the report has been interesting as well. While the likes of Mike Jackson has added his voice to the apology, he has also predictably stated that it should be remembered that this was an isolated event, very few soldiers fired that day etc. One of the lawyers for the troops (and particularly fascinating is the submission to the Inquiry of one of the lawyers for the soldiers called Lawton, for the way in which it seeks to build a case for the likelihood of both the Officials and Provisionals opening fire that day) Stephen Pollard has accused Saville of only picking the evidence that suited him, while claiming that the evidence presented supported the opposite conclusions. Of more concern for the intellectual dishonesty involved and its contemporary implications is the statement from Colonel Stuart Tootal, former commander of 3 Para in Afghanistan.

Of the day itself, he says: “It was a shooting war, individual soldiers were under enormous pressure, having to make split second decisions.”

Except, of course, it wasn’t a shooting war, at least not that day. The paras were firing at unarmed civilians, and doing so in the most callous and targeted way possible. A few shots were fired from a revolver in response to the main shootings, but the man responsible believes that the paras did not even notice him doing so. It is an insidious and dishonest argument being made.

The report found that the commander of the troops who went into the Bogside, Derek Wilford, had exceeded his orders in sending the paras in there while marchers were mixed with rioters, but apart from that and other mild criticisms, the upper reaches of the military and the political leadership at Stormont and in London got off very lightly. Niall Ó Dochartaigh analyses this question in detail in The Guardian, but here is what Saville says.

It was also submitted that in dealing with the security situation in Northern Ireland generally, the authorities (the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland Governments and the Army) tolerated if not encouraged the use of unjustified lethal force; and that this was the cause or a contributory cause of what happened on Bloody Sunday. We found no evidence of such toleration or encouragement.

One other point that I think is worth mentioning is the reports statement on NICRA. It is not uncommon to hear unionists argue that given that the march was illegal, a great deal of responsibility lies with those who organised the march and those who attended it. Anyone listening to Talkback, for example, over the last few days will have heard this line of argument from callers. Saville addressed it directly in a chapter on responsibility for the deaths.

4.33 In our view the organisers of the civil rights march bear no responsibility for the deaths and injuries on Bloody Sunday. Although those who organised the march must have realised that there was probably going to be trouble from rioters, they had no reason to believe and did not believe that this was likely to result in death or injury from unjustified firing by soldiers.

There has been some talk that the report represents the closing moment of the Troubles. Reading Jim Allister’s comment, that seems unlikely.

“My primary thoughts today are with the thousands of innocent victims of the IRA who have never had justice, nor benefitted from any inquiry into why their loved one’s died. Thus today’s jamboree over the Saville Report throws into very sharp relief the unacceptable and perverse hierarchy of victims which the preferential treatment of ‘Bloody Sunday’ has created.
“The finding that Martin McGuinness was armed with a sub machine gun, and that he didn’t tell the truth about it, does not surprise me, rather it confirms my view of his perpetual unfitness for government.”

Still, there is no doubt that the report is a major landmark. Although the question of prosecutions, private or state, is unresolved, I think it’s fair to say looking at the scenes in Derry yesterday that for many people a turning point has been reached. The victims have been exonerated after just about the most extensive investigation humanly possible, and the British government’s acceptance of the report and renewed apology has removed the stain of Widgery once and for all. It was certainly worth every penny and every day it took.

ADDS: Interview with Wilford the day after Bloody Sunday. Lies.

Comments»

1. jim Monaghan - June 16, 2010
2. WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2010

4.33 is central. The institutions of a state, even in the context of the North at that point or any point in time, could not and should not have been expected to turn in that fashion on those who marched. It’s no wonder the UK press is leading so heavily with this. It really is desperate what happened. I don’t know if the enormity has sunk in with some.

Splintered has some interesting thoughts on Ballymurphy…

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3. Garibaldy - June 16, 2010

The Ballymurphy murders were appalling as well. One of the problems with the Saville report is the statement that it cannot rule on whether there was a culture of impunity for shooting civilians because it would require just as much investigation of all those incidents to judge. Technically I guess this is true, but Bloody Sunday can’t really be seen in isolation from them either. And this is where the question of political and military leadership stands out for me.

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4. Pope Epopt - June 16, 2010

Is anything (the hint of a split between the financial and military elites, perhaps) going on here in the British ruling class? I can’t but assume similar events are happening regularly in Afghanistan.

Will more fulsome apologies be forthcoming then? Or are the victims too brown and Muslim?

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Pope Epopt - June 16, 2010

I should have said ‘fulsome apologies, forty years hence.’

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Tim Johnston - June 17, 2010

by ‘similar events’, Pope, do you mean the shooting of civilians?

It seems most Irish people don’t care about “brown” “Muslim” people getting shot when it’s other Muslims that are doing it. Which is probably why so few protested the Iranian foreign minister in Dublin recently.

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ejh - June 17, 2010

Obviously because they didn’t protest, they don’t care. I haven’t cared about anything myself for years.

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5. Thoughts on Saville « Garibaldy Blog - June 17, 2010

[…] Thoughts on Saville By Garibaldy I have put up a long piece discussing the Saville Report on Cedar Lounge Revolution. […]

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6. Mick Hall - June 17, 2010

Garibaldy,

Is there anything in the report whether the British security services/UK government removed anything from Savilles original report. Two reasons I ask, firstly I find it hard to understand how Wilford, commander of 1 Para on BS is held responsible, yet Ford, (who amongst issuing orders to Wilford etc, shouted at Wilford’s men on the day, “go paras go,”)and other further up the chain of command are not.

I am also interested what role, if any, British agent of influence/informers played when they gave their evidence to Saville inquiry.

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Garibaldy - June 17, 2010

That’s a very interesting question Mick. I didn’t notice anything about it, and just looked at the general introduction, and it didn’t mention it. I had a look at the press notices too on the website, but there’s no mention of it there either, although there is a mention of it in advance of publication. Maybe an enterprising journalist could email the inquiry for a comment using the email address provided on that press release.

As for the question of informers. The report discusses why they find the informer Infliction (who made accusations against McGuinness) credible. I don’t know about other informers to be honest.

http://report.bloody-sunday-inquiry.org/volume08/chapter147/

147.347 There is a common element in the allegations of paramilitary activity on the part of Martin McGuinness, namely that on Bloody Sunday he was at some stage before the soldiers went into the Bogside armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun; though much of the evidence about the incident in William Street or Duffy’s bookmakers contains inconsistencies and in some cases (for example, the shooting of Patrick Doherty) is plainly wrong; and we are far from persuaded that Martin McGuinness was there with any plan to throw bombs or fire at the soldiers. With the exception of Infliction, who puts Martin McGuinness in the Rossville Flats, the other evidence puts him armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun in the area of Chamberlain Street and William Street. There is, however, no necessary inconsistency in this, as Martin McGuinness could have been in both places at different times.

147.348 We have considered the evidence that Martin McGuinness fired a shot with a Thompson sub-machine gun at or near Duffy’s bookmakers. However, we have concluded that this is a very unlikely thing to have happened.

147.349 We were unable to obtain a written statement from Infliction, or call him to give oral evidence. Nor was Martin McGuinness able to question him or even be told who he was. The same applies to the account given by the RUC interviewee. Were we conducting a criminal trial there would in our view be substantial grounds for the submission that it would be unfair to admit this material or to place any reliance upon it. However, we are not conducting a trial but a public inquiry and we are not bound by the rules of evidence. We have to consider what weight, if any, we should give to this material, in circumstances where it has not been possible to question Infliction about his account. We also have to consider whether in the circumstances it would be so unfair, in the context of a public inquiry, to make any findings based on it, that we should refrain from doing so.

147.350 We have already expressed the view that Infliction was generally reliable and did give the information in question to the Security Service. Officer A told us that he had no grounds for believing that what Infliction had told him was the result of holding a grudge against Martin McGuinness. Furthermore, it should be noted that he said to Officer B during his debriefing that “the Brits murdered thirteen people ” on Bloody Sunday,1so it would not appear that he was inventing what he told Officer B (or Officer A) about Martin McGuinness in an attempt to provide the soldiers with a reason for opening fire. If Martin McGuinness did tell Infliction that he had fired a Thompson sub-machine gun from the Rossville Flats on Bloody Sunday, it is in our view likely that this is what Martin McGuinness did.

1 KB3.4

147.351 Nevertheless, our inability and that of those representing Martin McGuinness to question Infliction on such matters as his relationship with Martin McGuinness and the circumstances in which Martin McGuinness is said to have made the remarks in question, and otherwise to test the truth of Infliction’s account and the accuracy of his recollection, have led us to conclude that it would be unwise (and indeed unfair) to place much weight on that account. On this basis we consider that this account by itself does no more than raise the possibility that, notwithstanding his denial, Martin McGuinness did fire a Thompson sub-machine gun on “single ” shot from the Rossville Flats on Bloody Sunday.

147.352 We bear in mind two further factors.

147.353 Firstly, there is the evidence, apart from that of Infliction, to the effect that on Bloody Sunday Martin McGuinness was in possession of a Thompson sub-machine gun in the area of Chamberlain Street and William Street. We have concluded that on balance, though far from certainly, this was the case. In reaching this conclusion we have taken into account that Martin McGuinness had no opportunity to question the RUC interviewee who said that he had seen Martin McGuinness with such a weapon. We are, however, unpersuaded that Martin McGuinness was in Duffy’s bookmakers at any stage.

147.354 Secondly, we have concluded that Martin McGuinness probably did see Margaret Deery being carried after she was wounded, which means that he was probably not (as he told us) to the south of the Rossville Flats when the soldiers came in and started firing, but still somewhere from where he could see Margaret Deery being carried, ie somewhere on the car park side of the Rossville Flats.

147.355 We should note at this point that in the course of considering the events of Sector 2, we have concluded that someone probably did fire a number of shots at the soldiers from the south-west end of the lower balcony of Block 3 of the Rossville Flats, close to one of the walkways joining Block 3 to Block 2 of the Rossville Flats, probably at a stage after soldiers had opened fire in that sector. From that position Margaret Deery could have been seen being carried to a house in Chamberlain Street after she had been wounded in the thigh. The evidence that we have on these shots suggests that they were fired from a carbine, but in our view this does not necessarily establish that it could not have been a Thompson sub-machine gun. Unless the weapon can be clearly seen and identified, for reasons given elsewhere in this report1a Thompson sub-machine gun fired on “single ” shot (ie not repeatedly on automatic) could be mistaken for some other type of weapon being fired more than once. After firing there would have been an escape route away from the soldiers and out of their sight by the stairs that led down to ground level in the gap between Blocks 2 and 3 of the Rossville Flats. However, Infliction’s account is to the effect that Martin McGuinness told him that he had fired the first shot, not a number of shots, so that there is little to connect this account with the firing from the south-west end of the lower balcony of Block 3 of the Rossville Flats.

1 Paragraphs 65.182–202

147.356 We have found that Martin McGuinness was more likely than not to have been in possession of a Thompson sub-machine gun in the area of Chamberlain Street and William Street, and that he probably had not reached the area south of the Rossville Flats when the soldiers came into the Bogside and opened fire. We cannot conclude, however, that he fired a Thompson sub-machine gun from the Rossville Flats. The Infliction material raises the possibility that he did. We have set out above our reasons for not giving much weight to this material. Accordingly, we can in this report make no finding on the point.

147.357 On one matter, however, we have no doubt. If Martin McGuinness did fire from the Rossville Flats he could have come to believe, as Infliction reported he had said, that his firing had precipitated what happened on Bloody Sunday, by which we would understand that he believed that what he had done had led to a response from soldiers that resulted in the numerous casualties of Bloody Sunday. In fact, as appears from our consideration of the events of Sector 2, he would have been mistaken in this belief, since none of the soldiers who in our view shot Jackie Duddy, Margaret Deery, Michael Bridge or Michael Bradley in that sector suggested at any stage that they had fired at people in response to fire from the Rossville Flats; they all claimed to have targeted people with bombs at ground level. Nor have we found any evidence to suggest that the casualties in any of the other sectors were targeted by soldiers because of fire from the Rossville Flats.

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7. Jim Monaghan - June 17, 2010
8. LeftAtTheCross - June 17, 2010

If anyone was interested in reading what serving members of HM Armed Forces are saying about the Saville Report it’s all on-line at:

http://www.arrse.co.uk/Forums/viewtopic/t=151255/postdays=0/postorder=asc/start=0.html

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9. Jim Monaghan - June 17, 2010

“It seems most Irish people don’t care about “brown” “Muslim” people getting shot when it’s other Muslims that are doing it. Which is probably why so few protested the Iranian foreign minister in Dublin recently.”
I don’t see how this slipped in. As for Iran I support HOPI.
I am afraid that most Irish people know little about Iran, just as most Iranians know little about Ireland. I think the groundswell of pro Palestinian support shows that most Irish people do care, as I hope the vast majority of people about injustice wherever it happens to people regardless of colour.Given that we have our share of the heedless and the just plain bad as those every other country.There are close to 200 countries in the world, even those with a lot of knowledge would be hard put to name their capital cities never mind their human rights records.It is the task of solidarity campaigns to draw injusices to the attention of everyone and combat the very well organised attempts at disinformation which the regime is good at.. It also in my opinion has to distinguish itself from the Imperialist campaign which tries to use the record of the Iranian government for its own ends, the attitude above does not help.

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Tim Johnston - June 17, 2010

Maybe I’m just a cynic, but ‘care’ doesn’t come into it. Israel was protested throughout Ireland at the drop of a hat. Concern for the cause of the unlikeable Palestinians is about America-bashing by proxy, and the sight of an LGBT group alongside Hezbollah flags -protesting the only country in the Middle East with any semblance of gay rights – was too confusing for words. It’s undertaken by people not just with limited knowledge but with no sense of perspective whatsoever. If the Irish love the Palestinians, protest Jordan – they keep them in camps.

You’re right about the knowledge gap, but there are a lot of people in the world who’s rights have been denied or trampled on. It’s hard to fight every cause. But the disproportionate and misplaced outrage smells of massive hypocrisy. Perhaps – as was agreed here not too long ago – it is a case of fighting only the battles that can be won, but I certainly saw no Irish faces amongst those protesting Iran (although I’m prepared to be corrected on that). Of course you can’t protest every nasty dictatorship in the world, but when dissident Iranians think it worthwhile to turn up we could show them some solidarity.

I don’t know about the “Imperialist campaign which tries to use the record of the Iranian government for its own ends” but I know about the Imperialist campaign to use Gaza for its own ends – that of Iran.

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Ramzi Nohra 1 - June 17, 2010

How are the iranians imperialists? Cant think of them invading any countries. Unlike Israel.
Of course they have sponsored assassinations and bombings in other countries, but if thats your definition of invasions or imperialist behaviour then Israel has them beat.

However, the Iranian state is extremely repressive – torturing non-violent protestors to death for example and deserves to be criticised as you say.

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10. Mick Hall - June 17, 2010

Tim

I feel you miss the point completely, if you feel some oppressed people in some god awful part of the world, are not gaining the support of the Irish people, get a campaign going, publicise their plight on the web. What you should not do is claim the Palestinian should not be gaining support because some other poor folk are not gaining public support whilst suffering under the yoke of governmental oppression.

Have you never given it a thought that those LGBT people, who campaign on behalf of the Palestinians, by putting a peg on their noses and marching alongside Hezbollah supporters, ought to be admired as they put the Palestinian peoples plight before their own egos, something sadly you are unwilling to do.

Have you ever considered some of us, including many Israelis, work to expose Israel’s oppressive treatment of the Palestinians, as we have no wish to see the Israeli people driven into the sea, and make no mistake, if the Israeli political and military elite continue as they are that is where they are heading.

Yes, there is much the Iranian government does which I disagree with, but unlike the Israeli government, let alone that of the US and UK, Iran does not occupy an inch of another people land. So your imperialist jibe is way off beam.

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Tim Johnston - June 18, 2010

You made a valid point, Mick. I have no doubt that most people appraoch the subject with the best intentions and many believe that Israel should live up to its promises as a liberal democracy. I also don’t believe anybody is in favour of ‘oppression’. The way to bring Israel to the table is not to isolate it – and very few of those flags said anything supportive of peace in general. The ‘death to israel’ t-shirt was a real winner, and so was the Hezbollah flag.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe Israel being driven into the sea is the inevitable end result of their behaviour – I think nuclear war is.

Whatever the oppression of Gaza – and I don’t think, personally, that they are particularly oppressed – it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In fact there are a very clear chain of events that led to it. It’s hard to see where to go from here at all. I would suggest that Israel should let up the blockade and see what happens, but no government will gamble with its citizens’ lives like that.

I also think that a lot of the different reactions depend on whether the individual considers radical Islam a threat more broadly, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say the Iran’s imperialist ambitions -for now – include removing Israel and replacing it with a Palestine led by Hamas, its ally.

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11. Jim Monaghan - June 17, 2010

On a footnote I believe the Kurds are currently the biggest nation without a state. I support them against the Iranian state, the Turkish state, The Iraqui state and the Syrian state.
On a broader note it is in my opinion a mistake to see the enemny of my enemny as necessarily an ally. So seeing Bush/Obama as in any way a friend of any oppressed population would be a mistake. Likewise I am not enamoured with the regime in Iran and hope that the Iranian people can free themselves.Again I like the line of HOPI.(hopoi.org/).
To get back to if not Saville at least closer to home, those here who thought that the USA was in anyway supportive of Irish national freedom were/are seriously mistaken. Likewise I have little time for those who looked east with rose tinted glasses

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Tim Johnston - June 18, 2010

agree 100% about the Kurds. They seem to have independence of a sort in Iraq though.

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12. Mick Hall - June 18, 2010

Tim,

It is nice to be able to debate in a civilised manner with someone whose views on Israel-Palestine differ from my own.

I agree the Kurds in Iraq have achieved independence of a sort, myself, I feel the Kurds in Turkey might gain more if they set a similar path, in the short term that is. As I cannot see any Turkish government, no matter what its political makeup, left, right, secular, islamic, giving up the southeast of the country as it forms such a defensive barrier against a part of the world which, due to its geographical location has a long history of instability.

The PKK, like the IRA, were unable to gain independence by armed struggle alone, for as with the Brits, the Turkish State opposition was simply to strong and determined not to bow to an armed threat or give up territory.

The similarities between the struggle for the completion of the Irish
Revolution and those of the Turkish Kurds and the oppression they have suffered within the Turkish republic are striking. On the up side, most rational Turks these days, do recognise this is a problem which most be resolved.

Myself i feel the best option may be to give the Kurds within Turkey a federated state much as Scotland and Wales have in the UK.

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Tim Johnston - June 18, 2010

Mick,
As far as I can recall without Googling, ‘Kurdistan’ straddles four countries and you’re right than none of them want to see pressure for a unified Kurdistan.
Do they have any sort of local government within Turkey?

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13. Mervyn Crawford - June 18, 2010

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jun2010/irel-j18.shtml

“The findings of the Saville Inquiry are a political vindication of the stand taken by the Socialist Labour League, then the British section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.
The British Trotskyists opposed the sending of troops to Northern Ireland and conducted vital work exposing the crimes carried out on Bloody Sunday and outlining the revolutionary political tasks confronting the British and Irish working class. The following articles illustrate this principled record, in contrast to the rank political opportunism of the Stalinist and fake left groups such as International Socialism, forerunner of the British Socialist Workers Party, and the International Marxist Group, affiliated to the Pabloite United Secretariat.”

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LeftAtTheCross - June 18, 2010

Enlightening. Wonderful example of navel-gazing. And there I was thinking that sectarian division in NI society was the problem, but it turns out that sectarian differences between followers of Trotsky were far more important.

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Garibaldy - June 18, 2010

🙂

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14. Mervyn Crawford - June 18, 2010

‘Left’ AtThe Cross:

Is “sectarian division in NI society” not a facet of the inequality of class rule? As the oppression of women is? Or the oppression of racial groups? Are all these areas of oppressionand division not a method for the ruling class to maintain capitalism?

Or is the issue of class, economic system of no siginificance to you?

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LeftAtTheCross - June 18, 2010

My comment concerned the relative priority in your initial comment to the correctness of one form of Trotsktism and the incorrectness of other rival forms. Simple as that.

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15. HAL - June 18, 2010

Makes me wonder if Stalinism has to be kept alive,in order for Trots to exist.Nobody else seems that bothered about it as a relevance to this day and age.

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16. Jim Monaghan - June 18, 2010

The record of the SLL was awful in any solidarity movement. Healy was a sectarian monster.You would need a magnifying glass to see the so-called “vital” work.
One of the minor good things at the moment is the absense of his irrelevant political descendants in any organised way North or South.
In fact the major Trotskyist who exposed a lot of the British lies on Bloody Sunday is Eamonn McCann, whose work is incredible.

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17. Mervyn Crawford - June 18, 2010

Intersting, but not at all surprising, that the only ‘comments’ on the SLL articles are mud-slinging. No analysis you might note.

JM – I am sure you are well aware that the position of the IC is that the SLL did degenerate. There is plenty of readily available documentation on this on their web site – http://www.wsws.org .

Now, I’m a supporter of the IC. What are you Jim? What are the political affiliations/sympathies of the other contributors, I ask them.

As I’m sure you are equally aware the principled position of commited socialists is for individuals, and groups/fronts, to openly declare their allegiances. In that way the working class is educated. In preparation for the battles with the ruling class.

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LeftAtTheCross - June 18, 2010

I honestly couldn’t be bothered reading the analysis after an introduction that gave a higher priority the political mistakes of the SSL’s rivals and a lower priority to the substantial issues of the Saville report and Bloody Sunday itself.

Can you give a synopsys of the analysis that might tempt neutral observers to spent time digging deeper?

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ejh - June 19, 2010

What are the political affiliations/sympathies of the other contributors, I ask them.

Even assuming they have any – why do you need to know? Why not discuss the things they write and say whether you think they’re right or wrong?

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Mark P - June 19, 2010

Mervyn:

The affiliations of most of the contributors and commenters here are fairly easy to pick up if you stick around. They range from left wing independents, to members of the Workers Party, Socialist Party, Labour Party and Sinn Fein with the occasional anarchist or People Before Profit supporter dropping by. The site has even recently acquired Ireland’s last Maoist, as a bewildered and occasionally bewildering bonus.

By the way, can you tell us anything about the Healyite organisation in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s? Where did it come from, what did it do, that sort of thing? The existence of the SLL in the North, for some considerable time prior to the creation of the League for a Workers Vanguard (later Workers League) occasionally comes up in historical discussions here, but nobody seems to know much about them.

Does the SEP/ICFI have supporters in Ireland now?

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18. Mick Hall - June 18, 2010

Tim

The Kurds run many of the towns and villages within south east Turkey, including Diyarbakir, the regions second largest city with a population of well over 1 million. The problem is, once a mainly Kurdish party like DTP (Democratic Society Party) makes gains in the democratic arena, reactionary elements within the Turkish State move against it and ban it, along with some of it’s leading members holding public office for a set period of time.

For example last December the Turkish Constitutional Court voted unanimously to ban the DTP after finding it guilty of cooperating with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) separatist guerrilla group.

Whilst it is true many of this party’s members would have some sympathy and possible links to the PKK, it also has the democratic mandate of millions of Kurds. For example when it was banned, the DTP had approximately 24 MP’s, countless local government officials including Mayors in the south east and within a part of Istanbul which has a large Kurdish population.

It was hoped under the AKP government now in power this cat and mouse game with Kurdish political parties would cease, not least because the military tried the same game with the AK but failed to ban it.

It is a pointless game as what happens in reality is within days of being banned, the DTP morphed into the new Kurdish party, the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party). Although it does disrupt the flow of Kurdish representation and whilst this time only a small number of Kurdish activist were banned from political office, the rest, whether MP’s or local mayors etc moved with ease into the BDP.

Indeed, after Turkish Kurds have formed a new Party, the second thing they do is create a shell of another new party, so the aforementioned can take place quickly and as smoothly as possible when the constitutional court opens yet another case against them. ((Something the Trotskyists might learn considering how prone to splits and new party’s they are; sorry comrades, could not resist it 😉

Having said all this, things do not seem as bleak for the Turkish Kurds as they once were. The current Erdogan government has build good relations with the Iraqi Kurds and daily life in the mainly Kurdish south east is not as oppressive as it once was, but undoubtedly there is still much work to be done.

As people in the north of Ireland understand, it is not easy for people to get out of their fox holes and admit fault may lay on both sides; and concede there is value in the old brutes saying “jaw jaw, is better than war war.”

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Pope Epopt - June 19, 2010

Thanks for the info Mick. Fascinating stuff about Turkish Kurds, new to me.

I should probably apologise for sidetracking this post from the Saville report. I just wanted to make the jejune point that the British army hasn’t changed it’s modus operandi much – except these days it does it with unmanned drones if possible.

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19. Jim Monaghan - June 19, 2010

My politics and allegiances are very well known. Thgey can also be peieced together from my posts.
I spent an unfortunate 2 years around the SLL Irish affiliate and wasted a good week or two at a summer svhool in England. A total and absolute waste of time.
Lenis once said “What is to be done”. The SLL and its descendants have done nothing and have few if any ideas abour what is to be done except slag off those who try and do something and slagging is all they did. They never built anything, especially about Ireland.. They belong in the dustbin of history and hav left little of any worth behind them. I except of course those who were around in the early days like the late, great Peter Fryer.I. also, respect the work done by Simon Pirani.

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20. Captain Rock - July 8, 2010
21. Garibaldy - July 8, 2010

Thanks Captain, interesting to see McCann’s response.

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