Letter: Nameless Paras

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Seventeen former soldiers are to remain anonymous while they give evidence to the Saville inquiry, three senior judges having rejected Lord Saville's appeal for the soldiers to be named ("Bloody Sunday soldiers win case", 29 July).

Lord Woolf and Lord Justices Walker and Tuckey have said that "the holding of the tribunal with soldiers giving evidence will rekindle the flames of anger which have been smouldering for so long".

The flames of anger will burn yet more brightly if the soldiers, as in the Widgery tribunal, are not named, and since, prompted by the increased anger, the Provisional IRA has the capacity to track down the soldiers and their families, anonymity may well increase the danger of reprisals. None of the dead is as yet known to have been carrying a weapon, and there is evidence of some shooting from behind. To conceal names of military witnesses from the bereaved kinsfolk is callous and unwise.

The Secretary of State for Defence has said that the prime task of the inquiry is to find out the truth about Bloody Sunday. On 30 January 1972 in Derry City citizens of the United Kingdom killed other citizens. Anonymity for reasons of state has no place in the establishing of the whole truth. With anonymity the inquiry is flawed even before it opens.


University of Dublin

The writer was a member of the executive of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, 1971-72