Establishment: only one Bloody Sunday prosecution. Corbyn’s support of victims’ families will surely continue

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


Priest Edward Daly waves a blood-stained white handkerchief ahead of a group carrying badly-wounded Jackie Duddy. Duddy died of his wounds shortly afterward.

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.

Derry families outside Downing Street. (Image: Derry Journal). Jeremy Corbyn is rear right

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.

Corbyn with Derry Bloody Sunday marchers. (Image: Derry Journal)

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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  1. It is notable that the only person charged isn’t an officer. Don’t those that were in charge have any culpability for the actions of the men under their command.

  2. Whilst we have not seen the full evidence perhaps the killing of 13 peaceful civil rights protesters by the British Army put down to only 1 rogue element in the army (7.6%) is perhaps a notion of worthy of further examination?
    Some would suggest the offering of one as sacrificial lamb (?) by the establishment shows the current Neo-Liberal capitalist establishment in my humble opinion are political imbeciles; the old sophisicated Right Wing Barbarians (instead of the New Barbarians) would have made it more plausible with 3 or 4?
    I have not seen the evidence but possibly with research may have come up with a different figure?
    I actually always wonder: How do the Right Wing Barbarians sleep at night?
    Justice for diverse working people in every country including in Derry!
    Peaceful Solutions 4 All!
    Yours as a left wing democratic socialist.

    1. To answer my own question, it could be suggested that the Right Wing Upper Class Barbarians are taught to be callous to human suffering as these political imbeciles put their class interests first.
      ‘Last throes ‘Great Men and Women.’
      Your Neo-Liberalism is dead.
      This is End of Your History.
      Too much working peoples blood have you Barbarians shed.
      And hence peace will reign.
      And left wing democratic socialism will shine.’
      International Solidarity!

    2. As a young student in Derry at the time, that event was my first foray into the world of Irish politics, and I was very sympathetic to the plight of soldiers on the streets having seen people spit on them, and rail abuse at them etc. As 5 or 6 of us walked towards the venue of the civil rights march we had to climb the hill towards St Eugene’s Cathedral. There were approx. 20 or so pigs parked on either side of the road (pigs = armoured troop carriers) each with 2 or 3 small windows about 6 inches long on either side. As we passed each vehicle there were several mouths at each window screaming abuse at us “We’re gonna get you c**** today. You’re f*****” etc etc. 20 or so vehicles! I have lived in NI ever since and I have never seen the army so fired up in any event following this. They had obviously been ‘treated’ either with indoctrination or with drugs. I guess this is what they do to soldiers before they go to battle, firing them up like this. But that day they went to war on a peaceful community looking for political change. Fortunately, it heralded a change in army tactics but at the price of fuelling the provisional campaign.

      1. Thanks for that insight.

        The prosecution of one squaddie is a diversion and is not going to redress anything – and, to be realistic, redress is impossible, although the recognition of *real* culpability is necessary.

        The only real possibility is moving on.

        … which is why the carelessness of the Brexiteers over NI is unforgiveable.

      2. I thought at the time that Maudling or Carrington had probably passed the word down to ‘take the gloves off’ because of criticism by English tabloid comics at the time.
        Long time ago for an old memory like mine but weren’t there complaints around then that ‘our boys’ were ‘being used for target practice’?

      3. Oh yes, forgot – the L1A1 (FN FAL) was far too much gun for crowd control – had a police action ever been anyone’s intention on that day.

  3. As it goes, what everyone doesn’t take in to account was that they were acting under orders. Get their Officer Commanding in the dock as THE BUCK STOPS THERE.

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