Only one former soldier will be prosecuted over 1972 massacre of thirteen people. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been a consistent supporter of the bereaved families in their quest for justice
There has been outrage in Ireland – both the North and the Republic – over the Public Prosecution Service’s (PPS) decision that only a single former soldier will face charges over the murders of thirteen unarmed people in Derry on Bloody Sunday in 1972.
The families of the victims are planning a mass rally in protest at the decision, in which they hope former soldiers will join the bereaved and their supporters.
The official inquiry by Lord Saville, which published its report in 2010, found that the killings were “unjustified” and “unjustifiable“. It concluded that all of those shot were unarmed, none were posing a serious threat, no bombs were thrown – and that soldiers “knowingly put forward false accounts” to justify their firing on demonstrators.
In light of those facts, the decision to only prosecute one of those involved appears equally unjustifiable, although Establishment figures have of course made a significant effort to justify it anyway.
As so often, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – long before he was Labour leader – has been consistently on the side of the victims and against an Establishment with too long a track record of cover-ups and ‘circling the wagons’.
Corbyn: ‘friend of Derry’
In 2015, the Derry Journal published an article noting that the newly-elected leader of the Labour Party was a long-time supporter of the people of Derry and the bereaved families.
Former Derry councillor Gerry McLochlainn, who knows Corbyn well, said at the time:
Jeremy is the kind of person who will work with and work to help anyone – he does not distinguish… I know that he will be keen to involve and work with people with different views, beliefs and opinions – he’s a very humane and inclusive man.
McLochlainn also praised Corbyn for his long support for the families of the Bloody Sunday victims, for his help on the campaigns for justice for the ‘Birmingham Six’ and the ‘Guildford Four’ – and for his bravery when McLochlainn was detained by Egyptian police after a humitarian visit to Gaza:
On the way home from Gaza the Egyptian police pulled me to one side – I must state that I was not treated badly or abused – but when Jeremy heard what had happened he immediately arrived at the scene and waited until I was released – he wanted to make sure I was okay – that’s the type of person he is.
Corbyn – who also played a significant role in the Belfast peace agreement – has not yet publicly commented on the PPS decision. He was, however, instrumental in calls that led to the Saville Inquiry, as noted in 1998 newspapers not long before it was announced:
It seems beyond doubt that the people of Derry will have his continued solidarity as they try to overturn this injustice – and that this will be just one more reason the UK Establishment is so desperate to undermine him.
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