Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Now, can we get on with our lives?

So, was it that the effluent hit the air-conditioning device or a mountain labouring at the birth of a mouse? Now we have seen the whole of the Saville report are we much wiser? I doubt it really. The media have all done their cherry-biting; government bashers have bashed, Republican media repeated their anthems and Protestant papers blame the Papists. I suspect very few of the military who were there are very much interested in something that happened all that while ago. Forgetfulness is a fashionable concept in criminal trials - ones own and that of prosecution witnesses.
The UK Government will go through the motions of recognising what a great piece of work Saville produced "In the House of Commons discussion of the report, Harriet Harman claimed that it spoke for itself, but running to more than 5,000 pages and 10 volumes, it would seem more likely that it will unleash a sadly predictable reaction from many quarters, who will find sufficient in its findings to justify the flogging of traditional hobby horses.
David Cameron's summation can't be expected to be congenial to many of those who have expended much time and effort to establish a premeditated plan by senior politicians and members of the armed forces to shoot rioters on 30 January 1972. His statement that the report established that neither the UK and Northern Ireland governments nor the Army countenanced the use of illegal force is a direct challenge to the self-justificatory narrative of Sinn Fein. And the finding that Martin McGuinness was probably in possession of a sub-machine gun on the day – although it was not used – is a reminder of the common IRA practice of using rioters as cover for deadly attacks on the Army."
As an aside for anyone who seeks better information than is available via the posh papers or the red tops I would recommend a very apt - and in my opinion totally accurate - publication by Niall o Dochartaigh as to whether the whole thing was designed or an error.
Mr Cameron made a decent enough fist of baring his soul in public which showed the benefits of public schooling in keeping a stiff upper lip. He spared the military nothing. But, someone should have reminded him of the elephant in the House.
Right now there is an inquiry proceeding into the actions of our troops in Iraq which involved the death of a local, one Baha Mousa who was held in the custody of the soldiers. There is indisputable video evidence of the manner in which they were treated - badly - and Mousa's body bore almost 100 injuries. There was an inquiry by the military police in Iraq but they were faced with a wall of silence when it came to a court martial. As the Inquiry has developed, senior military figures have agreed that what was done was totally out of order. So, Mr Cameron has more trouble with his soldiers down the line.
And Mousa is not the only concern. We have anotherr PR disaster on the stocks with what is know as the Battle for Danny Boy.
"The father of an Iraqi killed by British forces during the battle, together with five other Iraqis who were detained on the same date, allege they were beaten and abused, during and after their original detention. They, and other witnesses, also allege that a far larger number of men were detained and transported from the battlefield and that, while their vision was obscured by blacked-out goggles, they overheard the unmistakable sounds of torture at the base. Public Interest Lawyers, a group representing the Iraqis, says this is corroborated by the death certificates to dead Iraqis who were handed over from the Abu Naji base. Evidence of torture included close-range bullet wounds, the removal of eyes, and stab wounds. The Iraqis have been asking the high court in London to order an independent public inquiry into claims they were mistreated and that British soldiers may have killed up to 20 captives."
The Inquiry will doubtless be faced with claim and counter-claim but, coming on the heels of Londonderry and Mousa, will do our reputation little good.
As an infantryman would say "Stand by for incoming"

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