SOLDIER F must be feeling a little sore this morning.
Arguably hung out to dry as the symbol of British wrongdoing in the North of Ireland, he is the only soldier facing prosecution over the Bloody Sunday Massacre. The souls of those innocent civilians gunned down that day in 1971 have waited a long time for any semblance of Justice. Yet you feel those souls will be evermore restless. Similarly the reputations of those gunned down by members of the same Paratroop Regiment in Ballymurphy have yet to be cleansed.
The begrudging acknowledgment that ‘most if not all’ were not associated with the IRA undoubtedly represented a milestone for the families but it betrays an underlying attitude. Whatever lies in the future for soldier F there is an inescapable feeling that he is the sacrificial lamb for all the ills of the British Army. And maybe this is as near justice the families of those murdered in the name of the British Crown will get. There will come a time, and maybe the events of this week have brought it nearer, when a line will have to be drawn, when there is nowhere else to go. And that is going to be very hard for people to take.
The families of the Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy innocents have done their dead proud. It has been a bittersweet week. An outcome to settle and answer all questions is beyond reach but these families never had that expectation. They have dragged the British establishment kicking and streaming to the altar of Justice and their discomfort is plain for all to see.
Like a shipwreck survivor clinging to a bit of driftwood, they cling to the notion there was a vague justification for picking off 24 innocent and unarmed civilians. And that’s the bottom line. Trained, uniformed soldiers shooting helpless, defenceless people. There can be no other context than that – it’s not complicated and it’s indefensible. The bluff and bluster of retired colonels and majors defending their men’s honour has long been wearing thin. In true military tradition they won’t take responsibility; instead they push forward the foot soldiers to face the 🔥heat. Over to you Soldier F.
With many thanks to: Richard Sullivan and the Sunday World for the original posting