British Prime Minister David Cameron told the house of parliament that the actions of British soldiers on January 30, 1972 in Bogside, outside Derry City, were “both unjustified and unjustifiable”.
The Saville Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killings was the longest running investigation into an incident in British history. The inquiry has found that the order to send British soldiers into the Bogside “should not have been given”.
Cameron said that the loss of 14 lives was down to the soldiers “losing their self control”.
He began his speech by saying “I'm deeply patriotic, I never want to believe anything bad about our country, soldiers, officers who are finest in the world.
“But, the conclusions are absolutely clear. There's no doubt, nothing equivocal, no ambiguities.”
He added “I am deeply, deeply sorry.”
At the Guildhall in Derry, families of the victims watched on an outdoor screen as the Prime Minister said he could not defend the British army for their role in the killing. The families gave his speech a thumbs up and waved a copy of Lord Saville report triumphantly in the air.
British soldiers entered Bogside where the civil rights march was taking place as a result of “an order which should not have been given” the inquiry found.
The inquiry found that the first shot was fired by the British soldiers and that none of the casualties were carrying firearms. Though there was shooting by republican paramilitaries “none of this firing provided any justification for the shooting of civilian casualties.”
It also states that the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, second in command of the provisional IRA in Derry in 1972, was “probably armed with a Thompson submachine gun”. However, it cannot be proven that he fired his weapon.
No warning was given to the public before shots were fired. The inquiry found that the soldiers “reacted by losing their self-control ... forgetting or ignoring their instructions and training”. This resulted in a “serious and widespread loss of fire discipline.”
Cameron also said that inquiry found that many of the British soldiers filed false accounts in an attempt to justify their actions. The report also tragically found that many of those who lost their lives or were injured on Bloody Sunday were attempting to flee or trying to go to the aid of another injured parties.