Thursday, 14 March 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I formally second Senator Conway-Walsh's amendment that the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade come to the House today. I heard what Senator Wilson said and I will listen intently to what the Leader will say in this regard. It does warrant that level of response from the Irish Government.
With the greatest respect, I cannot nor would I dare speak on behalf of the Bloody Sunday families. However, I believe they expect the Irish Government to come out on the record on this most pivotal day. We must look at this in its broader context. As colleagues have acknowledged, all of our heads and our hearts are in Derry today. This is not just a traumatic and deeply hurtful day for the families involved in Bloody Sunday. This sits in the context of the ongoing inquest into the murders in Ballymurphy by the Parachute Regiment which is taking place in the Belfast High Court. At the beginning of it, I was joined by a range of Seanad colleagues from across the Chamber. What is emerging from the Ballymurphy inquest is harrowing. Fr. Hugh Mullan, a local priest, who went to the assistance of his parishioners carrying a white flag, much like the iconic image from Derry, was shot in the head and killed by the Parachute Regiment.
All of us need to reflect again on that wider context. Last week, in the British House of Commons, the Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, said British soldiers acted in a dignified and appropriate way. I wonder more was this a strategic decision to cause further hurt and trauma but also to prepare us for what we heard today.
Michael Finucane, the son of Pat Finucane, was involved in a significant finding in a judgment in the British Supreme Court a few weeks ago. He said today's decision is extremely worrying because of the circumstances of the killings and Saville's comments about the circumstances thereof. In his opinion, there is a big question over the Public Prosecution Service, PPS, comment that the evidence was not sufficient.
We all remember that joyous sense of relief that came down upon Derry on the day of the publication of the Saville inquiry. It has now gone to a deep sense of hurt, loss and a feeling of a great injustice being further inflicted upon these families. We will watch with interest and with solidarity with the families. It is urgently required for the Irish Government to give the House its views on this decision concerning Bloody Sunday and on the broader context of legacy issues.