Eamonn McCann speaking at the launch of the poster for next year’s Bloody Sunday March for Justice Programme of events.
Next month’s annual Bloody Sunday march will focus on the role and responsibility of the top British officers and politicians who organised and ordered the January 1972 massacre in the Bogside and then concocted a lying cover story to hide the truth from the world.
The march will call for responsibility for the killings to be laid at the door not only of those who pulled the triggers but of those who ordered that the triggers be pulled.
These include Brigadier Frank Kitson, Belfast commander at the time, author of the standard British Army “anti-terrorist manual, “Low Intensity Operations,” who sent the Paras to Derry to “police” the civil rights march; Major General Robert Ford, Commander of Land Forces Northern Ireland, who stood at the bottom of William Street shouting “Go on the Paras!“ as the killers poured through a barbed-wire barricade into the Bogside; General Sir Michael Jackson, second in command of the soldiers on the ground on the day: Jackson personally drafted and wrote out in his own hand the cover story which was to become the standard British version of the killings; and Edward Heath, prime minister.
We call for Jackson in particular to be charged with conspiracy to murder. The rank and file paras who fired the fatal shots should be brought to book. But this shouldn’t be at the expense of letting higher-ups with heavier responsibility go scot-free.
The British Government, the Department of Defence and the military establishment want all the blame laid on the shoulders of privates and corporals so that they can say that the Bloody Sunday massacre was a “rogue “operation by disobedient lower ranks which left no stain on the reputation of the British Army itself.
This was the thrust of David Cameron’s speech in the Commons following publication of the Bloody Sunday report in June 2010.
The truth is that men uniformed to represent the British state carried out the killings because they believed, and had good reason to believe, that murder was what was expected of them.
We should keep in mind that Jackson was in Ballymurphy playing an operational role the previous August when ten decent unarmed people where cut down by the same soldiers, some of the bodies then flung into armoured cars like livestock at an abattoir. We will be marching for the Ballymurphy families, too.
We will also remember as we march the actions of the Parachute Regiment in ripping Yemen apart just before their deployment to the North. The appalling aftermath of that savagery can still be seen on the news every night.
We ask all those, of whatever political background, who want to stand up against State murder to join with us on January 27th next behind our “Jail Jackson!” banner, demanding the full truth about what happened in Derry and about who was ultimately responsible.