Irish Bishops Welcome Bloody Sunday Report

British Prime Minister Issues Apology

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MAYNOOTH, Ireland, JUNE 16, 2010 ( The Irish bishops are welcoming the report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, published Tuesday, which shed light on the facts surrounding a 38-year-old shooting of civilians by British soldiers.

“We welcome the findings of ‘The Report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry’ and we share the joy and relief of the families of those killed and injured on Bloody Sunday,” they affirmed in a joint statement issued today by the Irish bishops’ conference.

The inquiry was established in 1998 to investigate and provide a definitive report on the events of Sunday, Jan. 30, 1972, when 13 civil rights protesters and bystanders were killed, and another 13 were injured, by British paratroopers in Derry, Northern Ireland.

The event was initially investigated only months after it happened, but the tribunal that held the inquiry was accused of “whitewashing” the facts, which sparked further conflict in that region.

The more recent Bloody Sunday Inquiry, which cost some £400 million [$593 million] and involved the interviewing of over 900 witnesses, was chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate.

It concluded that the shooting by the British soldiers that day “caused the deaths of 13 people and injury to a similar number, none of whom was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury.”

The report affirmed that “the immediate responsibility for the deaths and injuries on Bloody Sunday lies with those members of Support Company whose unjustifiable firing was the cause of those deaths and injuries.”

The soldiers were said to have “lost control” when they fired at the civilians.

In response, the British prime minister, David Cameron, said to the House of Commons in a Tuesday address that the actions of the soldiers that day was “both unjustified and unjustifiable; it was wrong.”

“What happened should never, ever have happened,” he said, apologizing on behalf of the British government.

Prayer for peace

The Irish bishops’ dedicated time today, during their summer general meeting in Maynooth, to pray for those who lost their lives in Derry.

“We acknowledge the hurt and pain of the many people who lost loved ones on these islands during the course of the troubles,” they stated. “We continue to carry them all in our thoughts and prayers.”

The prelates acknowledged “the witness of Bishop Edward Daly, and the many clergy, whose part in Bloody Sunday and its aftermath is deservedly recognized.”

“We salute also all the politicians who have contributed in leadership roles and to the building of a solid peace,” they added.
The statement continued: “We acknowledge the pastoral leadership shown by the representatives of the other Christian Churches as demonstrated by their visit to Derry today.

“Finally, we call on all those who are still committed to violence to recognize the futility of this approach and we plead with them to turn to a constructive political path to achieve their goals.”

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