Putting soldiers on trial is misguided

Nobody can predict whether Lord Saville's conclusions on the Bloody Sunday tragedy will prove to be a punctuation mark on the Irish question or a final solution to an intractable problem (your report, 16 June).

But a public clamour for prosecutions of individual soldiers involved is likely to be misplaced. It is too easy to argue that armed forces personnel need to be taught a lesson to prevent further atrocities. It is better to conclude that highly publicised court proceedings might only serve the purpose of reigniting the troubles.

They may serve to ease the anguish of those who lost loved ones in January 1972. It could also serve to cause consternation among the relatives of others who died in a host of outrages in the following 25 years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Bloody Sunday was one of the catalysts for suspicion and hatred among rival communities in the province. But errors of judgment before that dreadful day were also significant. The most notable was the British government's refusal to abolish Stormont at the time British troops were sent there in 1969.

The other was the introduction of internment without trial just months before the Londonderry shootings. These events heightened tension throughout Ireland but particularly in the north. They were part of the context in which the inexcusable shootings happened.

It is time for the peace process to move on, and time for all sides to acknowledge the mistakes that were made.


Shiel Court


How can it take 11 years to carry out an enquiry of this nature? The Second World War only took six years, and the Nuremberg trials of all the Nazi hierarchy took less than a year.

Lord Saville expected to complete his work in two years, but endless and pointless delays and adjournments by the legal profession – and the discovery by them of countless new witnesses – led to this farcical delay.

However, it has succeeded in creating a new class of multi-millionaire lawyers, given a licence to print money and all paid for by our taxes.


Rattray Grove