Bloody Sunday book author Ian Hernon “wanted to write for all sides”
The author of an upcoming book marking the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday said lessons can still be learned.
Former journalist Ian Hernon, from England, said the ongoing debate over legacy issues has highlighted the dilemma of dealing with the past.
Thirteen innocent people were shot dead by members of the controversial Bogside Parachute Regiment during a civil rights march in January 1972. A fourteenth later died of his injuries.
A subsequent investigation found that all those killed were unarmed and posed no threat to the soldiers, who insisted they had been the target of fire and only aimed at gunmen and bombers.
Hernon’s book, Bloody Sunday: A Fifty-Year Fight for Justice, draws on eyewitness accounts and official documents, such as the Saville Inquiry, to build a narrative of what happened that day. .
Above all, he tells the background to the events, the atrocities committed by the Parachute Regiment and the IRA in the run-up to the massacre and how they informed him.
The author said he wanted to create a narrative in his book that included “feelings and understandings from all sides.”
“I stress that the book is a story rather than a political controversy,” he told this newspaper.
âMy personal background is Glasgow Irish Catholic, but I’m first and foremost a hacker and fully aware of all the intricacies and complications on all sides of the Ulster Division.
âI also know very well the feelings of the families of the dead and injured.
âOver the past 50 years, I have worked extensively with the military, and I realize that the squadrons in the Bloody Sunday field tended to come from working-class backgrounds.
âTensions were high on both sides before Bloody Sunday.
âJust a few months ago, there were the Paras going to Ballymurphy, which tended to be forgotten, I think, because it was in three days, even though there was about the same number of victims.
“Of course, there were also no reporters or photographers at the scene, unlike Bloody Sunday.”
Ten people, including a mother of 10 and a priest, were killed in three days in Ballymurphy in August 1971. An investigation earlier this year confirmed that all were completely innocent.
Hernon said that attention should also be paid to the feelings of ordinary soldiers at the time, given the murders of the three young Scottish soldiers in March 1971 by the IRA, when they were executed after being drawn to a Belfast city center pub to a quiet roadside. just outside of town. All three victims were teenagers and were off duty at the time.
“The whole debate over the Good Friday deal, inheritance and amnesties etc. raged until a few months ago, when they decided not to continue the trial of Private F [who was charged with two murders and five attempted murders committed on Bloody Sunday]”said Hernon.
Hernon, who has worked as a lobby correspondent for decades, said his career has been marked by unrest over decades – in some cases in a very literal sense, such as being a few yards from the Grand Hotel in Brighton when it was bombed by the IRA in 1984, or at the scene of Airey Neave’s murder by the INLA in 1979.
Hernon said that in writing the book Bloody Sunday he must have asked himself some tough questions.
âThe dilemma I found myself in in this case was that some things can be understood but never fully justified, no matter if someone is wearing a uniform or not,â he explained.
âWhile writing this book, as an outsider of sorts, I realized that the Bloody Sunday violence had taken place in a geographic area the size of two parking lots in about 10 minutes.
âI also became keenly aware of being able to understand a teenage squad that was panicking and letting go, but in the case of some soldiers it was cold and deliberate.
The officers told the soldiers in advance that they were going to ‘give blood to the boys’, and a memo was revealed, written by a senior officer a few weeks before, stating the’ minimum force needed to achieve a restoration of law and order is to shoot the selected ringleaders â.
When asked if any lessons could still be learned from the events of Bloody Sunday, the author replied, âYes. Whatever name you give it, a war, a civil war, a law enforcement operation, there are consequences, but again you come to the dilemma of amnesties and early release of prisoners. .
âThere is also the question of whether it is worthwhile, or morally justified, to sue people who are now 70 years old? In the case of some Bloody Sunday soldiers, I would say absolutely.
Bloody Sunday: A Fifty Year Fight for Justice is available for purchase from December 15 through https://www.amberley-books.com/bloody-sunday.html.