Northern Ireland news

Corbyn believes answers still needed over Bloody Sunday

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn planted a tree at Derry's Rath Mór centre to mark the facility's 30th anniversary. Mr Corbyn was in the city to deliver the annual Bloody Sunday lecture. Picture by Rath Mór Centre
Seamus McKinney

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn believes issues still remain over Bloody Sunday despite the 2010 Saville report.

Mr Corbyn was speaking during a visit to Derry’s Rathmore Centre which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. The former Labour leader will also deliver the annual Bloody Sunday lecture at the city’s Guildhall later today.

In his 2010 report, Lord Saville overturned the findings of the 1972 Widgery Tribunal and declared the innocence of all the Bloody Sunday victims. He was also highly critical of a number of individual soldiers present on the day, including Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford who led the Parachute regiment into the Bogside.

However, Mr Corbyn said he believed there were still questions to be answered after the 2010 Inquiry.

“There are obviously still issues about the army’s role and, above all, the command structure,” he said.

While the establishment of the Saville Inquiry was a “huge step forward”, Mr Corbyn said that was not the end of the Bloody Sunday story.

“Any inquiries have got to work out where the orders came from and where the atmosphere for those orders came from; that means you’ve got to go all the way through. Where did the authority come from? Why were those soldiers stationed where they were? Why were they so heavily armed for what was, after all, a peaceful demonstration going through the streets of Derry on that day.

“I think those are questions that still need to be answered,” he said.

The former Opposition leader also added his support to SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood’s demand that the British army to apologise for Bloody Sunday.

“Quite clearly what happened was that David Cameron acknowledged in his statement to the House of Commons, the British army fired at innocent, unarmed people and killed them and, at the very least, that deserves an apology and an acknowledgement of that,” he said.

Bloody Sunday would go down in history as the “most terrible day for Derry”. Mr Corbyn said it provoked an intensification of the Troubles.

“I agree with Colum Eastwood’s statement and I think he put it extremely well.”

The British politician was also critical of the granting of Queen’s honours to some of the soldiers who were present on that day, including Lt Col Wilford who was given an OBE in the New Year Honours in January 1973. People should not be honoured for what happened on Bloody Sunday, he said.

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