Go on the paras!


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I got an electronic copy of a booklet the other day from one of the cleverest people I know. It was from my old class-mate Eamonn McCann and the booklet was called Go On the Paras…! : Bloody Sunday and the contining search for justice. What’s that – you thought that had all been resolved by David Cameron’s apology? That it’s wrong when fourteen people are gunned down in broad daylight by the forces of the state and that saying ‘I’m sorry’ makes it all right?

McCann has been a tenacious and intelligent presence, shadowing the Saville Inquiry through its long years. His conclusion in this booklet pin-points the problem with the Inquiry’s findings: it attaches blame to the lower-downs. In other words, it attempts to sell Bloody Sunday as  an unfortunate lapse, certainly untypical of the well-disciplined British army, and authorised by relatively low-level officers.

Not so. McCann points in particular to the ham-fisted and arrogant testimony of General Sir Mike Jackson, who is currently the top man in the British army. Back on Bloody Sunday he was an officer on the ground in the Derry Bogside, and as soon as the killing had stopped,  Jackson was busy drawing up notes and diagrams to show that all of the victims had been gunmen and that all of the shots fired by the British paratroopers had been in self-defence. That’s the same paratroopers, McCann notes, who a few months earlier had slaughtered eleven people in Ballymurphy and who, in the Falklands, gloried in their custom of cutting off the ears of Argentinian soldiers they had killed and storing them in their pouch-belts.

Jackson’s notes and diagrams, of course, didn’t coincide with the facts. At the Saville Inquiry, he just couldn’t remember making them, couldn’t remember an awful lot of things, including how informed the government in London were in advance of the killing spree by the army.

This is at the core of the justice question for the bereaved of Bloody Sunday: will those who issued the original orders, those in government who sanctioned them –  will they be held to account? Or will – as is so far the case – those as far down the food chain as possible be saddled with all of the guilt while the top military and political people walk away, hands cleaner than clean.

10 Responses to Go on the paras!

  1. John Patton February 3, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    I have been mulling over a very similar blog for the last week. What to do?

  2. paddykool February 3, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    Ah Jude.. you spoke to me a few days ago about novel and original though in relation to my idea. Eamon has always got it right to my mind.Always an entertaining and original thinker with a mind like a steel trap. Like myself , he has that storytelling tendency [la delightful eccentricity!! hah!] to ramble on a bit in search of his final point.[.I’m sure he usually loses anyone with a short attention span.]but he always manages to get there in the end..

    If Northern Ireland was full of guys like Eamon, maybe some of us wouldn’t feel so alone.He cuts through the bullshit at every turn and exposes the fools when needed .Nothing new there .he’s been like that since the early days when Paisley “didn’t get” Civil Rights……who’s this bloody Martin Luther {King} anyway, Ian ? We were really up against the eejits then, as we still are now but Eamon was always there with his cosmopolitan and universal view.Where can we all read his booklet?

  3. paddykool February 3, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    n.b. …quick edit…that’s “thought” and not “though”…whooops…

  4. paul February 3, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    How can one obtain a copy of this booklet?

    • Jude Collins February 3, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

      Paul – will check with Eamonn and report…

      • paul February 3, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

        go re maith agat

  5. ANOTHER JUDE February 3, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    I like Eamonn McCann, he is as sharp as a tack. I agree with most of what he says although his views on Israel and religion, particularly on the Catholic Church and abortion, are at variance with my own. He usually looks out for the poor and the oppressed. Unless they happen to be unborn children. As far as the British Paras are concerned, there is no real prospect of Mickey Jackass or any other godfather of terror being held to account. The Brits adore their military and will never allow them to face any kind of justice, let alone that meted out by the Irish. The cannibalism by the British paras of Argentine dead is well known but has never been mentioned in the mainstream media.

    • paddykool February 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

      It is a strange thing this barbarity which follows soldiering. I suppose the military will always attract a few socio-paths. …that idea of being allowed to kill without too much redress. There are bound to be a few mad buggers in there.
      The mutilation which also follows is nothing new either. I’ve read about similar things happening during the Vietnam war. Collecting ears and so on as trophies.

      The American underground comix artist Jack Jackson, back in the 1960s /early 1970s, in his “comic” stories of the American west drew stories depicting soldiers cutting off native American women’s’ breasts to be tanned and made into tobacco pouches. These were stories based on facts. Some of the cavalrymen depicted, no doubt, were immigrant Irishmen as they were many in number in the ranks of the Seventh Cavalry for example during the “Indian Wars”.

      There’s nothing new about the cannibalism either as that idea of consuming your enemy’s essence and vitality has echoes even in ritualised sacrifice…even in offerings to god or the various gods and in one case at least of offering up your entire bodyas in ,…crucifixion to appease a god…

      That all said , I read with interest your mention of the recent practice of cannibalism in the Argentines…I’ve never come across this particular scenario before. Where is this coming from? who did it exactly?

  6. Jim February 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    Great to see your view of Eamonn’s new booklet.

    For your reader, Paul, who asked how to obtain a copy. It is now available in Shipquay Books in Derry (price £5) and the Bloody Sunday March website will have details of other outlets (including online) as they become available.


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