Bloody Sunday decision on soldiers shows limits of ‘truth or justice’ model

Newton Emerson: Approach does not satisfy the bereaved or resolve legacy issues

Bloody Sunday survivor Mickey McKinney, Gerry Duddy, solicitor Fearghál Sheils and John Kelly at the Bloody Sunday Memorial in the Bogside in Derry. The truth or justice model  does little to satisfy the bereaved. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

Bloody Sunday survivor Mickey McKinney, Gerry Duddy, solicitor Fearghál Sheils and John Kelly at the Bloody Sunday Memorial in the Bogside in Derry. The truth or justice model does little to satisfy the bereaved. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

The families of the Bloody Sunday victims were offered not truth and justice, but truth or justice. At best, there was a hope this might become truth as justice.

Evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, which concluded in 2010, was inadmissible in subsequent criminal proceedings. This is standard practice in inquiries and unavoidable if they are not to function as de facto full criminal trials, with all the restrictions on evidence that entails.

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