16 Jun 2010
June 16, 2010

Saville Report


I spent a year as an army officer in Derry in the early 90s.  I spent most of my time in civvies liaising with local groups. I got to know a lot of people, unionist and nationalist-minded alike.  A few of those I worked with lived in a little village called Greysteel, between Ballykelly and Derry itself, and I visited them a number of times.  A few weeks after I finished my tour, some nutcases entered the Rising Sun pub there with weapons and killed as many locals as they could.  Greysteel was a predominantly nationalist village and the killers targeted Roman Catholics but naturally killed protestants too.  Ten years earlier, a large device had been planted in Ballykelly, to devastating effect.  When I read now of the long awaited Saville Report, I think of other atrocities like Omagh and Enniskillen. In some ways, these terrible events are a reminder of the scale of the success of Tony Blair (preceded by John Major), along with a load of other dedicated people (from John Hume and David Trimble to Bill Clinton) in bringing the euphemistically-named Troubles to an end.  Northern Ireland’s come a very long way since those events, yet many people will remain scarred for the rest of their lives.  The Saville Report is direct and looks fair.  The reaction of the families of those killed and injured on Bloody Sunday, along with those speaking for all interested groups have been measured, sane, decent.  Shaun Woodward, the former Northern Ireland Secretary, has proposed a mechanism for airing the feelings and thoughts of those caught up in other events during that awful quarter of a century, and he’s probably right.  For the main part, though, it looks like those lovely folk I worked alongside years ago  have, by some miracle, been able to put the most astonishingly awful events in their lives into some kind of historical context.  It doesn’t look like most want to live in the past, albeit no-one’s going to forget it.  The Saville Report is a watershed of sorts; a good one, I think. Thank God.