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Saville report on Bloody Sunday massacre exonerates victims

Nearly 40 years after 14 Catholic civil rights marchers were killed by British soldiers in Derry, Northern Ireland, the UK's Saville report on Bloody Sunday exonerated the marchers. But prosecutions look unlikely, analysts say.

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Mr. Campbell compared the events to killings by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and brushed aside complaints that state violence and violence by non-state combatants were qualitatively different. He also claimed that the Irish government funded the armed wing of the IRA. “That Irish state acted as a midwife to the birth of an organization that murdered thousands of United Kingdom citizens,” he said.

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Fellow DUP party member Jeffrey Donaldson said: “The truth is we don’t know what Martin McGuinness and the IRA were doing on that day." The report said that the movements of Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuiness, then second in command of the local Derry IRA, that day were unclear. The report said he may have fired a sub-machine gun but that even if he had that it did not cause the Army’s actions.

The DUP, led by first minister Peter Robinson, forms the government of Northern Ireland in partnership with Sinn Féin. Mr. McGuiness is the deputy first minister.

'Blaire's touchy-feely politics'

Northern Irish Unionists and British Conservatives have long been suspicious of the inquiry, but there is also weariness among many in the Republican population. In his book "Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland," Tony Blair’s chief of staff Jonathan Powell said Martin McGuinness told him that an apology would have sufficed. McGuinness denies he said any such thing.

Professor Bean says the inquiry can be understood as a “folly” of former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“It was all part of Blair's touchy-feely politics and ideas of truth and reconciliation. It uses the language of healing wounds and the pattern of the peace process as psychological rather than political,” he says. “There was a strong lobby in Derry centered on 'closure' but in terms of the wider nationalist population there was less of a sense that it was a central issue in terms of moving forward, despite clear anger over the events.”

According to Bean, the inquiry has shown up the faults of individuals without explaining the politics.

“The wider political issue is being buried by blaming the individual soldiers and their immediate superiors,” he says. “It ducks the question as to what was going on – it’s very much a ‘bad apple’ argument.”