So, presumably on foot of the mountain of material generated by the Saville Inquiry, the PSNI is to open a major criminal investigation into the deaths of Bloody Sunday. Well, if proof were needed it certainly kills off the notion that anything that happened before 1998 has some sort of immunity.
Well, yes, except that earlier in the week, the Secretary of State told families of the Ballymurphy/Springfield Park killings from about six months before (and involving the same regiment) that any new public inquiry would not be in the public interest.
The abiding truth is that the 2005 Inquiries Act drew the teeth of any public investigation into the past. Saville has dumped a shed load of material into the lap of the HET which probably made impossible for them not to prepare a case against the soldiers concerned.
The decision to call even a limited inquiry is a political one, and as Anthony McIntyre notes:
…just why [might] the British wish to cause offence to nationalists in the same week that they blow off demands for an inquiry into the Ballymurphy massacre. They do it because they can. It is what they do. And they will continue doing it because there is no one yet capable of mobilising the moral power to stop them. [emphasis added]
The fact that there are many more unresolved killings by Loyalists and Republicans than by the security forces will make mobilising that ‘moral power’ difficult to impossible for anyone, whomsoever they be. Now everyone with any serious political convening power is locked into the institutions.
There was also mumbling on Facebook last night about the cost of such a criminal investigation by the North Down DUP MLA Peter Weir. But if sufficient evidence exists, it is hard to see how any democratic politician could protest it.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty