It took 12 years and cost £200 million but the report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry chaired by Lord Saville has finally been completed. However the date for publication has not yet been announced – media reports suggest that the report will not be published until after the British General election, highlighting the continued potential political impact of an event that has been described as a watershed in the history of the Troubles.
On 30 January 1972 – 13 people were killed by British soldiers at a peaceful protest against internment in Derry and a further 13 people were wounded (one of whom subsequently died of his injuries). A previous report by Lord Widgery conducted in the aftermath of the event was subject to huge critique and was characterised as a ‘whitewash’ on the basis of its investigations and overall conclusions – for example Widgery did not include any testimony from the injured who were still in hospital.
Even before Saville’s report has been published criticisms have been aired – not least concerning the time it has taken to complete the Inquiry and the costs incurred. Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC, who represented the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association at the inquiry has criticised the overall approach adopted by Saville – arguing given the time lapse a forensic examination of events is unlikely to yield much new information. Blom-Cooper has argued that Saville should have adopted a more global approach – taking the overall context into account, for example questioning why British troops were present in Derry in the first instance. When the 5,000 pages are published all of these debates are likely to resurface.