The Saville Inquiry: Prosecute Them

The Saville inquiry states that British soldiers fired upon a civilian crowd. They fired the first shots. They were indiscriminate in their targets and some must have known they were firing on unarmed men.

It’s taken 38 years for the truth, widely known, to be officially recognized. Many of those soldiers are still alive.

Some will claim that prosecutions are a waste of time. They’ll be bogged down in legal procedure and it won’t bring anyone back at this stage. Still others will claim that enlisted soldiers of 1 Para should not be singled out, since they were following superior orders.

For the first argument I say this: The inquiry has determined that their was criminal wrongdoing. Justice is justice. It is not meant to serve the survivors or even the victims. Justice serves justice. These men killed unarmed civilians, gunned them down. They are killers and should be treated as such, regardless of how long or difficult a trial would be.

For the second I say this: “I was only following orders” is not an acceptable defence. Soldiers in nearly all militaries are required to follow orders, but only when those orders are lawful. A soldier, regardless of rank or situation, is duty bound to disobey an order he knows to be unlawful.

These soldiers were ordered to fire into a civilian crowd. They fired the first shots. The continued to fire when the crowd retreated. They shot men trying to help the wounded. This situation screams many words. Unlawful is one of them.

You don’t get to shoot 14 unarmed civilians dead, lie about it in inquires, then get away with it because it happened a long time ago. Prosecute them. Let the families make claims against the British Armed forces. Make these soldiers stand up in a court of law, a civilian court of law, and defend their actions that day.

Justice is justice. Neither time, nor orders, will ever change that.

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4 Responses to The Saville Inquiry: Prosecute Them

  1. Indeed, justice is justice. However, there may be a lot more at stake here than justice. Northern Ireland has come a long way in recent times and the pursuit of prosecutions could have damaging effects on the cross communal necessity for peace. The debate shows the strains it could bring. Yesterday, we saw something highly iconic. A truthful account for which Saville must be commended. Truth is a vehicle of reconciliation (epitomised by the Protestant Church’s leaders meeting with relatives this morning), prosecutions could well be the vehicle of divison. As for justice, a life lived with the private knowledge of wrongdoing being made public may be enough for some but not for others. As an outsider in the narrative, it is not up to me to decide.

  2. Interesting view Dave, I’d probably find myself agreeing with it. Wouldn’t Martin McGuinness need to be prosecuted then too (possession of a weapon with intent potentially)? And if Martin is prosecuted for this one shouldn’t they look into all the other events with such vigour?

    One of the family members made a comment yesterday which was interesting, he said 1 PARA should have its medals and commendations removed for this serious crime.

    What do you think?

    • David says:

      I don’t like Sinn Fein and Martin McGuiness is an admited member of a terroirst organisation. That’s enough in my eyes, for a prosecution, notwithstanding his part in Bloody Sunday. If you go after 1 Para, you do have to go after him though his offence was of a much lower standard.

      Taking away 1 Para’s commendations punishes men who weren’t there. When I said “1 Para” I didn’t mean the entire Regiment.

  3. Aye that’s fair enough about 1 PARA and the prosecutions. What they’re doing in the North now is a good idea, getting everyone to come clean might help settle the peace process which now seems to be lingering uncomfortably.

    As for Sinn Fein I have to disagree unfortunately, coming from the border (of Derry) I’ve seen the many many good things that they’ve achieved, Hume, McGuiness, Adams, all helped Catholics in the North get the rights they deserved and had a hard time doing it. Of course they’re not perfect but they came from an impossible situation and got the people basic human rights. Look at any other case in history where people have done this against the British Empire and it’s amazing to see what they achieved in such a short space of time.

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