Nearly 40 years after British troops opened fire on protestors in Northern Ireland — sparking decades of bitter sectarian violence — a British government inquiry has finally rendered a credible verdict worthy of a democracy. As Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain announced: “What happened on ‘Bloody Sunday’ was both unjustified and unjustifiable.”
Then Mr. Cameron did something that politicians almost never do, he apologized. “On behalf of the government,” he said, “I am deeply sorry.”
The decision by former Prime Minister Tony Blair to order the investigation in 1998 and Mr. Cameron’s forthright embrace of its conclusions should be an example for countries and leaders around the world. The inquiry determined that British soldiers fired without provocation or warning on the civil rights march in the city of Londonderry on Jan. 30, 1972. It said that the 14 people killed and 13 people wounded were unarmed.
That should discredit once and for all an earlier whitewash investigation that, weeks after ‘Bloody Sunday,’ exonerated the soldiers, saying they were fired upon first. This latest inquiry lasted 12 years, took evidence from 2,500 people and produced an exhaustive 5,000-page report.
The findings are understandably dredging up raw emotions on all sides. With the 1998 Good Friday agreement, Northern Ireland has come a long way on a very difficult path toward peace. The hard truth of this inquiry and Mr. Cameron’s ringing apology should help move that process and the cause of peace forward. - courtesy: NYTimes.com -