YESTERDAY the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced that there was enough evidence to prosecute one soldier, soldier F, for the murder of two people, James Wray and William McKinney, when British paratroopers opened fire on a peaceful civil rights demonstration in Derry on 30th January 1972.
Soldier F also faces charges for the attempted murder of Patrick O’Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon and Michael Quinn.
The PPS said that there was not enough evidence to prosecute 16 other members of the first parachute regiment for their part in the massacre of innocent civilians, a massacre that left thirteen dead and hundreds injured.
The fact that even one British soldier is to be prosecuted is a tribute to the determination of the families of those killed to seek justice. They have been forced to fight for 47 years against the full might of a British state determined at all costs to ‘protect’ its hired killers.
First was the inquiry by Lord Widgery which was a complete and obvious whitewash which exonerated the army, claiming they were only responding when they opened fire and that soldiers had acted reasonably.
The campaign by the families and their supporters to overturn Widgery gained massive support finally forcing the then-prime minister Tony Blair to order a fresh inquiry in 1998 under Lord Saville.
A lengthy inquiry is the traditional way of burying anything harmful to the state. True to form the inquiry took 12 years to issue a 5,000 page report – but its findings were devastating.
It found that none of the casualties were posing any threat to life and limb and concluded that the soldiers had ‘lost control’. Papers were passed to the PPS in 2016 on 18 former soldiers for prosecution for murder.
The prosecution of even one soldier has been a huge blow to the British state and the Tory defence secretary Gavin Williamson was quick to rush to the defence of soldier F promising ‘full legal and pastoral support’ to him including ‘funding all his legal costs and providing welfare support’.
No such support was forthcoming to the innocent people shot down like dogs on the streets of Derry or all the countless thousands who were killed and maimed by British imperialism in its war against the nationalist community in the north of Ireland.
It is not just soldier F who should stand in the dock and face justice but British imperialism. Bloody Sunday was not the result of rogue soldiers losing control but the deliberate outcome of a strategy outlined by the commander of the parachute regiment General Frank Kitson the army’s ‘counter insurgency’ expert.
In 1971 Kitson wrote the military textbook ‘Low Intensity Operations’ where he expounded theories he had developed fighting British imperialism’s dirty wars against national independence struggles against colonial rule in Kenya.
In Ireland, Kitson put into practice his theories that at times of civil unrest there needed to be a coordinated political, military, legal and media operation against ‘subversives’.
Subversives for Kitson were anyone who set out to force the government to do ‘things which they do not want them to do’ through the use of ‘political and economic pressure, strikes, protest marches and propaganda’ (Low Intensity Operations, page 3).
Kitson’s counter-revolutionary tactics, developed fighting colonialist wars, were brought back home and turned on peaceful demonstrators 47 years ago and then carried on by secret army units like the FRU and the loyalist death squads.
For Kitson and the capitalist state, this was in fact the training ground for the army to deal with the British working class when it takes to the streets in strikes and protest marches against the government and capitalist austerity.
The capitalist state has prepared for ‘Bloody Sundays’ in the UK as the crisis of capitalism is driving the class struggle to the point of revolution.
For workers, the lesson couldn’t be clearer, the capitalist state, its army, judiciary and police force cannot be reformed, it will be used against the working class of Britain until this rotten capitalist system and its state are smashed and replaced by a workers government and socialism. Only then can justice for all the victims of imperialist crimes be achieved.