The Saville Report is out. I'm not going to study it closely. Nor am I going to say anything about the £191 million pounds that it cost the tax-payer. I'm just going to comment on one thing.
The Telegraph report said that the report "blamed the 10 minutes of chaos on 20 individual paratroopers who “lost their self-control” and shot civilians in the back as they tried to flee."
Now, it seems to me that it would not be helpful to prosecute the soldiers concerned - especially since members of the paramilitary organisations have been given amnesties. But the relatives of the victims do have a genuine grievance, and part of the cause of that grievance is that the soldiers were allowed to get away with doing something that they would not have been allowed to get away with if they had not been government employees. Or, to put it another way, the impression was given that if you work for the state, you can treat the public as you like.
I thought of the way that the police treated Dale McAlpine. An innocent man was dragged away and put in the cells for 7 hours. What the police did was wrong, but the police constables involved could be fairly sure that they would not suffer any serious consequences because they worked for the state.
I'm not saying that there is an equivalence between their actions and those of the soldiers involved in the Bloody Sunday shootings. But there are parallels.
And it's not just soldiers and police officers. A lot of people who work for the state have the ability to make life difficult for people they deal with - whether through malevolence, incompetence, or simply a love of pushing people around - in a way that they would not get away with if they worked for private companies.
If the Saville Report tells us one thing, it is that employees of the state have often been unduly protected from having to take the consequences of their actions.