WHEN JUSTICE BECOMES RETRIBUTION.
In 1969, after severe rioting in Northern Ireland, the Unionist Government asked for help from the British Government so that law and order could be maintained and innocent civilians could go about their peaceful DAILY lives in Northern Ireland.
Operation Banner was the name given to British Troops deployment in Northern Ireland. It has become one of the longest deployments of British troops in history and by far, one of its most controversial. It lasted from 1969 and ended in 2007.
It was as with all things of this nature, a decision made by men in pinstripe suits, provoked by political agitators who cared only for their own glory and power. The Tommy answered the call, as in days and eons gone by, “Defend and Protect” was the alluring song of the siren. So began the situation that we find ourselves in today.
A BIT OF BACKGROUND IF I MAY.
The Battle of Bogside:
Derry was seen by many Catholics and Irish Nationalists as a prime example of neglect by a Unionist Government. There were complaints made by many that there was a lack of investment, lack of concern for the people of the area. This has some justification in the fact that the town of Coleraine had a University opened in it and yet Derrys housing was in bad need of repair but was underfunded. Many civil rights groups were drawn to the cause, the major player being NICRA (Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association). Following the battle of Bogside which was a huge civil riot involving Catholics and police and police and unionists, it was decreed that the British army should be deployed to restore order, something the police were unable to do.
The Tommies were first very welcomed into the area. They were seen as a force for good by both communities as they brought much respite from the constant fighting.
30TH JANUARY 1972.
A day that will forever live in infamy and forever be known as “Bloody Sunday”
To understand the background a bit further we need to understand the world at the time. It was a time when reports for rebels was almost of a yellow press level. In America, the Vietnam war was still three years from ending and the American and British public were still reeling from the Tet offensive in 1968 where actual war was first broadcast into living rooms. The Opec nations (Oil producing and exporting countries) were talking about blockades of Israel, Abdul Nasser was calling for the destruction of Israel, Syria was saber-rattling, Israel was screaming about the right to defend itself. Russia and America, the main cold war antagonists were promising aid to both Arabs and Jews respectively. It was just at the start of a new decade and yet the hangover of war was still prevalent in the air. There seemed no respite from the cycle of war.
Come to Bloody Sunday, the day that will live forever in our memories.
Regardless of the rights and wrongs, we have to acknowledge that 14 civilians were killed when 1para opened fire during an illegal demonstration. We also have to acknowledge that it was not uncommon for stones, bricks, bottles, etc… To be thrown and were thrown at British Troops by protestors.
Only troops will know that innocent non-combatants are not always “Innocent non-combatants”. Terrorists in civilian clothing are often described as innocent non-combatants to the press.
This is not in any way to say that the 14 were terrorists but it is not as clear cut as the media make out.
THE IRA WERE PRESENT.
In a Newspaper article by The Times, it is reported that in the Saville Inquiry 5 IRA operatives admitted they were present during the riot and they were ordered to take a “Defensive Stance”. Also in the Saville Inquiry, it was admitted by the IRA that there was an exchange of gunfire between IRA riflemen and 1para, the IRA confirming that one of their numbers was wounded.
In a statement by one gunman he states:
“It was clear to me from the fact that he was aiming that he might fire again. He was pointing his weapon at the crowd and sighting along it. I took a split second decision and fired an aimed shot. When I next looked the guy had gone. I put the rifle in the boot of a car and it stayed there until after the army operation”, his statement says.
The media in their reporting ignore these statements.
What I find telling, however, is the following claim from another IRA operative:
Meanwhile the Official IRA man who fired a shot from a .303 rifle prior to the Bogside killings, said in his statement that he went to an arms dump in Colmcille Court to retrieve a rifle after he realised that two civilians had just been shot in nearby William Street by a soldier as the Bloody Sunday marchers approached the Bogside.
Prior to the Bogside Killings?
Surely then the IRA was very close to firing first or if not had fired a very close second.
However Martin McGuinness, a lead member of the IRA told the inquiry, “I will also tell them there were no IRA units on the march, no IRA weapons in the area and no IRA shots fired at the army,”
This totally contradicts the evidence given by the other 5 IRA men who were at the March.
Whatever the thoughts are it is blatantly clear that 1Para opened fire. But it is also without a doubt that the IRA had gunmen in action.
THE ENIGMA OF THE DAY.
To give the British army credit they would always stand by the Rules of Engagement and would not have opened fire without an express order from the guy in charge. Had an officer seen a gunman moving into position, ordered open fire and shots exchanged? We already have a sworn statement by an IRA operative that they opened fire with a .303 if not first then second that caused the loss of life.
I wonder why the media are ignoring these admissions of guilt? There was, of course, the anonymous agent in a British intelligence report who claimed that it was Martin McGuinness who fired the first shot of the day. So now we have British Intelligence saying that the IRA opened fire first, Almost agreeing with the IRA who describe the situation of them firing if not first then very much the second shot.
For confirmation of this read the Saville report yourselves.
THE REAL RESULTS OF OF OPERATION BANNER.
Operation Banner was controversial at its inception and is still controversial today. What cannot be ignored are the Casualties.
The British armed forces lost 722 casualties to paramilitary attacks, 719 from other causes and 6100 wounded.
Official figures for the IRA are 127 killed.
Official British figures total it up as 300+ people killed during the campaign, about 51% of whom were civilians and 41% of whom were members of republican paramilitaries.
WHEN JUSTICE STOPS BEING JUSTICE.
On the 29th of January 1998, Tony Blair announced he was authorising a new Inquiry into the events on Bloody Sunday. It is ironic that Tony Blair, a war criminal himself avoided justice due to him but is happy to put British soldiers on trial.
Are we chasing real justice, or are we opening the door to mere retribution?
We hear of the families of the victims of Bloody Sunday who make claims about wanting justice, wanting to put things to rest.
Yet we never hear them calling for justice for others.
Let us look at the facts:
British army killed 306 people.
British army Veterans are being hounded and facing witch hunts.
British Army: 722 KIA. 719 killed by other causes. Wounded 6100.
No IRA witch hunts, No IRA on trial. Victims of the Birmingham pub bombings denied legal aid.
You cannot in any way call this justice. Justice is only justice when both parties receive equal measure in law.
What we have here is not justice by any means or imagination. As only one party is being addressed.
Yes, it is soul destroying to lose family, I have lost both mother, father and stepfather, and my sympathies are with all families who lost loved ones during the troubles. Both sides.
However, we must acknowledge that justice must be given to all. That means the 722 killed by IRA terrorists and the 719 killed by other means.
We need justice for those in our armed forces who were killed by terrorism.
To claim otherwise is not justice, it is appeasement by retribution.
THEREFOR I STAND WITH SOLDIER F.
Major JGH Corrigan MBE
29th March 2019 at 1:58 pm
No soldier opens fire without being ordered to. The firers were under the direct command of their section or brick commanders and if they acted without orders they would have been dealt with under military law – and none were. Riots during the period were an almost daily occurrence and, unlike in other operational situations, the enemy looked (more or less) like us, making it difficult to distinguish friend from foe. The soldiers genuinely believed they were acting within the rules of engagement and to prosecute one private is quite wrong. If anyone is to be prosecuted – and I think no one should be – it should surely be the Commanding Officer, who is and was responsible for all actions of his battalion. The march was illegal and having served in NI I can only say that both sides of the sectarian divide are extremely unpleasant people (with the Republicans possibly having the better songs). If you don’t want to be shot, don’t go on an illegal march.
FROM A FRIEND WHO SERVED:
No soldier ever deployed to Ulster with the intention of idling or murdering anyone. None of us wanted to be there, in a policing role we weren’t trained or equipped for. Most of us just hoped to survive and get home to our families, many of us did not achieve that. None of us deployed there to murder anyone!
The same cannot be said of paramilitaries. Every time they left home with bombs and weapons, they did so with the express intention of murdering soldiers, policemen, prison officers, and civilians. Yet thousands of them are pardoned or given letters of comfort guaranteeing them immunity from prosecution, while veterans are left hanging out to dry.