I’m going to Derry today although I’m not sure why. There’ll be thousands of people there, so it’s not as if my presence would be missed. At these things I usually get a lousy view, my feet hurt and a round-trip of 150 miles is less of a thrill than it once was. But I feel it’s somehow the right thing to do. When Bloody Sunday happened thirty-eight years ago, I was in Canada. I remember I manufactured a couple of protest posters and hurried to join a protest march. As usual I was a little late so I asked a small group of people if they’d seen the march. Big mistake: they were a group of loyalists/unionists who had gathered for a counter-demonstration. I remember one of them taking my placard and reading it – it said something like ‘British army out of Derry’. ‘It’s the IRA should be out of Derry and out of Northern Ireland!’ I felt distinctly uncomfortable, but then one of the group said ‘Leave him alone, he’s all right’ or words to that effect. I hurried away and never did locate the march.
Like the people on the original Bloody Sunday march and the people shot, I was innocent in those days. I now see that the British army, when ordered to do so, will kill anyone at any time of the day or night, in secret or, as on Bloody Sunday, out in the open with thousands watching. And when they’ve finished they’ll have officers such as Mike Jackson busily constructing an alternative version of events where the British army was fighting armed and aggressive terrorists.
I saw Gregory Campbell on TV last night, yet again complaining of the cost of Saville and declaring that this represented a massive effort to rewrite history. No, Gregory. This is to correct the rewrite which Jackson and his men thought they could get away with thirty-eight years ago.