- 14 Jul 10
It took the British government 38 years to apologise for the massacre in Derry. Meanwhile, they're going all-out to obscure the truth about a far more recent massacre in Basra...
Thee road to the Saville Report was long and winding but we got there in the end. But as one family member said to me the day after the delirium in Guildhall Square, "Ninety-five percent on our demands, five percent on everything else."
From the point of view of David Cameron, everything else is what mattered.
Saville confined his strictures to the grunts on the ground and one expendable middle-rank officer. Everybody above was awarded a clean bill of health. So Cameron was able to disown those fingered as culprits and issue his apology to the families of their victims.
Meanwhile, his Government obstructs the efforts of the families of 20 civilians who died at the hands of British soldiers in Basra in May 2004 to win an inquiry into their deaths. The families say the victims were unarmed and innocent. The British army says they were armed members of the Madhi Army.
The case is currently being argued in the High Court in London. Cameron's government is obstructing them every inch of the way and withholding documents on grounds of – now where did we hear this before? – national security.
Death certificates in the case describe "Several gunshot wounds to body - severance of sexual organs"..."Gunshot to head"..."Gunshot in face, pulling out of the eye, breaking the jaw, gunshot to the chest."
Sharing in the joy of the Bloody Sunday families shouldn't mean we sing dumb about Cameron's hypocrisy.
A Catholic nun in Arizona has been threatened with excommunication in the wake of a decision to allow a pregnancy to be terminated to save the life of a woman.
Sister Margaret McBride approved the termination of an 11-week pregnancy. The woman was critically ill with pulmonary hypertension, which limits heart and lung function and can lead to death in pregnancy.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted procured her sacking from the ethics committee of the Catholic hospital and declared that she had "automatically excommunicated" herself. "While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother's life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means."
Olmsted's predecessor, Thomas J. O'Brien, had resigned following revelations that he had covered up a slew of cases of clerical child sex abuse: plus, he'd been convicted for a fatal hit-and-run accident. He'd hidden or moved pastor Dale Fushek in 2004, Fr. Paul LeBrun and Fr. Joseph Briceno in 2005, Fr. Mark Lehman in 2006, etc.
Neither the miscreant priests nor Bishop O'Brien has been threatened with excommunication.
Of course, the Irish bishops have a record even more wretched than their US counterparts in these matters and still feel free to denounce gay partnerships. Here, there or in Vatican City, they haven't changed a bit.
Our local Communities Against the Cuts was discussing the Brit budget when Tommy McCourt piped up, "How come we owe all this money, then?"
When it's said that "we" are in debt to the tune of 20 or 50 or whatever billion, who is it that we are in debt to? Me being a resident smart-alec, I had to attempt an answer.
Imagine, I tentatively suggested, that, mad keen to make a mint for doing fuck all, you borrowed two grand from Sandino's and put it on Willie Wagtail at 20 to one in the 2.30 at Leopardstown, having been assured by top tipsters that the nag was a dead cert. You've used the anticipated 40 grand winnings as collateral to buy a swanky car. But Willie Wagtail turns out a candidate for the glue factory and comes home 20 lengths adrift of the field.
Meanwhile, on account of the crash, the car is suddenly worth no more than Bertie Ahern's oath. And you still owe Anne at Sandino's £2,000. What to do?
Make the rounds of the neighbourhood, saying, This pains me as much as you but you'll have to cut back on food, rent, heating and clothes for the kiddies. My associates will be calling every week to collect the money you've saved until the debt is paid off.
If cheeky articles protest that they didn't borrow the money and lose it on a gamble and so shouldn't be asked to tighten their belts, explain that if they don't cough up, the vintners and restaurateurs who'd supplied you with booze and crème brulee on credit in expectation of your boat coming in, not to mention motor dealers, suppliers, mechanics and back-up staff, will all plunge into deep soapy bubble, putting the entire economy and social stability at risk. We are all in this together.
"Is that it?" asks Tommy.
"Far as I can work it out," says I.
"What are we waiting for, then?" asks Tommy.
Incidentally, you could tell that the Saville Report wasn't all it was initially cracked up to be from the gratuitous and gushing intervention of the popular crooner, Bono, in the New York Times. What a relief to encounter Roger Waters‘ best-ever version of "We Shall Overcome", recorded as a contribution to the campaign to end the blockade of Gaza. Bring his brilliant video up on YouTube. "Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall tear down the Wall some day." The honour of music saved.