The slogan on the poster announcing this year’s Bloody Sunday march reads – “Jail Jackson!”

The reference is to General Sir Michael Jackson, second in command of the paratroopers who stormed into the Bogside in January 1972 and shot 28 unarmed civil rights marchers, killing 13. He was later NATO commander in Kosovo, then Chief of the General Staff, Britain’s number one soldier.

Jackson was directly involved in the Derry massacre, standing in the shadow of the Rossville Flats as the killing went on around him. He was to tell the Inquiry under Lord Saville that he could not remember seeing a gun fired or a person struck by gunfire. Ludicrous.

Jackson was also the main architect of the cover-up.

Yet Saville made no finding against him. Jackson is still regularly and respectfully interviewed in the media about military action and the morality of war.

Meanwhile, controversy rages about the criminal investigation of a number of privates and corporals. The top brass gets off scot-free, the rank and file takes the rap. An old, old story.

On any rational estimation, Jackson and his fellow senior officers were far more to blame for the massacre than the men who pulled the triggers.

Saville’s failure to face up to this fact was important for David Cameron’s ability to stand up in the Commons and declare that the killings and woundings had been “unjustified and unjustifiable”—while simultaneously insisting that they had left no stain on the reputation of the British army. If the role of the top man in the military hierarchy had been exposed, Cameron could not have suggested that only “rogue” soldiers had been involved.

Saville’s determination to exculpate Jackson is even clearer from the twisted tale of how he came to construct the cover story which went out to the world as the “official” account of the slaughter.

After Jackson’s “I know nothing” nonsense, a different version of his role was to emerge during evidence from Major Ted Loden, commander of Support Company of the First Paras. He described how, late in the afternoon of Bloody Sunday, he had taken statements from each of the shooters and plotted map references showing in each case the location of the shooter and of his target and had noted the soldier’s account of why he had fired—the target had been armed with a gun or a nail or petrol bomb etc. He explained that he had interviewed the soldiers as he sat in the back of an armoured vehicle at Clarence Avenue, a few hundred yards from Rossville Street, with the map spread out on his lap and by the light of a battery-powered lamp. He listed 14 “engagements”.

But when the original documents were produced, they turned out to be not in Loden’s handwriting but in the handwriting of Chief of Staff Jackson. How could this have come about, Loden was asked. “Well, I cannot answer that question,” he replied. None of the shots described in the list conformed to any of the shots which evidence told had actually been fired. Some of the trajectories described took bullets through buildings to find their targets.

The other documents in Jackson’s hand were personal accounts of the day’s events by Wilford, the three para company commander who had been present and the battalion intelligence officer. It is impossible to believe that Loden could have misremembered this, or that Jackson could have forgotten writing it all out military just a few hours after standing in the middle of the shooting spree.

Recalled to the stand, Jackson explained that he had forgotten about the documents and his own part in producing them when previously giving evidence but had recovered a “vague memory” after learning that the documents had been produced to the Inquiry. Under questioning, Jackson resorted more than 20 times to phrases such as “I cannot remember,” “I do not recall,” “I have only a very vague memory.”

Jackson was clearly committing perjury.

Saville rejected the possibility that “the list played some part in a cover-up to conceal the emerging truth that some innocent civilians had been shot and killed by soldiers of 1 Para. It is not explained exactly how this conspiracy is said to have worked.”

However, having declared that it was not clear how the cover-up based on the documents might have worked, Saville continued: “The list did play a role in the Army’s explanations of what occurred on the day.” He cited an interview on BBC radio at 1am on the day after Bloody Sunday in which the army’s head of information policy in the North, Maurice Tugwell, had used the list as his basis for explaining the “shooting engagements”.

Elsewhere, Saville finds that “information from the list was used by Lord Balniel, the Minister of State for Defence, in the House of Commons on 1st February 1972, when he defended the actions of the soldiers.”

The shot-list was also distributed to British diplomatic missions around the world as a guide for answering questions about the killings.

Saville seems not to have considered a conclusion that here we had not just evidence of a conspiracy but clear sight of the conspiracy in action, and with Jackson at the heart of it. Had this been among Saville’s findings, Jackson would have been branded as a liar out to cover up unjustified and unjustifiable killings. Cameron would not have been able to make the Commons speech since hailed as a major contribution to reconciliation and even “healing” in Ireland.

Directly contrary to the widespread praise of the report, endorsed by the vast majority of mainstream political opinion and media outlets, Saville had not told the full truth. He cleared the dead and wounded and this was rightly welcomed—but he stopped short of admitting the truth about the role of the most senior soldiers on the spot.

He likewise failed to acknowledge the involvement of other senior officers—including Brigadier Frankl Kitson, the foremost British expert on combating “terrorism,” or General Robert Ford, Commander of Land Forces NI, who, although having no operational role on the day had travelled from Belfast to Derry and stood at the barricade the killers poured through into the Bogside , shouting, “Go on the Paras!”

And, goes without saying, there was no criticism of the Tory politicians who will have given the go-ahead for the operation.

Put plainly, Saville had nothing damaging to say about anybody whose reputation the British ruling class felt it had to protect.

Thus the cover-up continues. It is for this reason that the banner and placards on the march will demand “Jail Jackson!”

With many thanks to: Eamonn McCann for the original posting.

The Ballymurphy Precedent – March For Justice

Flying Parachute Regiment flags ‘a hate crime’, says Bloody Sunday relative

Saint Mary’s Church, on the Cregan Estate, during the Requiem Mass for the 13 people who were murdered on ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Derry

Parachute Regiment flags erected in Co Londonderry ahead of the anniversary of Bloody Sunday have been branded provocative, disrespectful and hurtful to families of the victims.

They appear every year in the village of Newbuildings in the run-up to the anniversary of the killings.

Thirteen people died after members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators. A 14th person died later.

Kate Nash’s brother, William, was among those killed on January 30, 1972. Her father, meanwhile, was among 28 people shot.

Ms Nash said that she considered the flying of the flags a hate crime.

Parachute Regiment flags fly from lampposts in Newbuildings

“This has become a regular feature for some people in Newbuildings, Drumahoe and in some parts of the Waterside, but I cannot understand why we are forced to put up with this year in and year out because to me this is a hate crime,” she said.

“While I know the vast majority of people in those communities don’t support these flags flying, the actions of the small number who do this are hurtful, and it is awful that some people seek to glorify the soldiers who carried out Bloody Sunday in such a public way.”

Sinn Fein councillor Christopher Jackson called on unionist politicians to get the flags removed.

“Given the brutal history of the Parachute Regiment in this city, the erection of these flags is provocative and disrespectful and clearly designed to hurt the families who had loved ones murdered and injured on Bloody Sunday,” he said.

DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: “This is not the first time such flags have been erected, including in response to other events around bonfires or parades in the city. We must all work to reduce and de-escalate tensions in our community.

PSNI Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said: “We fully understand the difficulties the flying of flags can cause across our community.

“It is our experience that these issues are best resolved through engagement and meaningful dialogue between local people and their representatives.

“The police service are supporters of such arrangements.”

The annual Bloody Sunday Commemoration March which this year marks the 45th anniversary of the civil rights March on the 30th of January 1972, makes its way through the Brandywell in Derry. Picture Martin McKeown.

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the original story

Bloody Sunday march organisers to put focus on military top brass – Derry Journal

Royal Mail man branded an ‘idiot’ for waving Para flag is a convicted thug

North of Ireland football supporter Paul Harding holding the regimental flag of the Parachute Regiment

The fan branded an idiot after being caught waving a Parachute Regiment flag before Northern Ireland’s match against the Republic is a convicted football thug.

Postman Paul Harding (41) was pictured with the banner at a roadside service station on the way to Thursday night’s goalless draw at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The Royal Mail worker’s behaviour has been condemned as provocative by nationalists as inquests into the 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre, when 11 civilians were killed by the Parachute Regiment, opened last week.

Hooligan Harding has previous form for appalling behaviour at football matches and in 2005 was given a suspended jail sentence for rioting at a Glentoran v Linfield game.

Magistrate Desmond Perry compared his behaviour during clashes at the Oval to that of a “wild animal”.

Harding, whose postal round covers the Sydenham area of east Belfast, was convicted after being photographed by Sunday Life running onto the pitch.

On Thursday he was among thousands of fans who crossed the border to attend the friendly match.

It was marred by poor crowd behaviour, with both national anthems booed and sectarian chanting throughout.

Politicians on both sides of the border condemned as “idiots” the small sections of supporters who were involved.

Harding was on a mini-coach of Northern Ireland fans that travelled from east Belfast to the match.

He was seen getting off the vehicle at a roadside service station and waving a purple Parachute Regiment flag at Republic supporters.

The Army unit was responsible for shooting dead 14 innocent civilians in Derry on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

Another video posted online shows a Republic fan attach a tricolour to the back of a Northern Ireland supporters coach that had stopped at another service station.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney condemned the behaviour of some fans at the game.

He said: “Embarrassed that a small number of fans booed the national anthem of Northern Ireland tonight at the Aviva. Competitive friendly, but Northern Ireland were our guests tonight in Dublin.”

Gardai said there were a small number of clashes at the game, but no arrests were made.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie also hit out at the booing of the national anthems and sectarian chanting.

He added: “I think it is pretty simple – we should all show respect to a nation’s national anthem.

“Each national anthem needs to be shown respect on sporting occasions like this and ordinarily it normally would.

“But I think this was not right to be honest.”

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the original story.

JUSTICE for the innocent men, women and children murdered by British Paratroopers on Bloody Sunday and their families – JUSTICE FOR ALL

The dead cannot cry out for justice; it is a duty of the living to do so for them: Lois McMaster Bujold

With many thanks to the: Bloody Sunday March for the original posting.

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