Mr Maginnis, an Ulster Defence Regiment major from 1970 to 1981, said: “As someone who was on duty on January 30, 1972, I deeply regret the death of 13 people in Derry on that day... But I cannot be as magnanimous or as one-eyed as I feel Saville and indeed, I am sorry to say, this government has been in the way it has received Saville.
“The 13 deaths are regrettable but no more regrettable than the other 167, the other 94% of the people who died that year.”
Mr Maginnis, now a peer who was his party’s security spokesman in the Commons, went on: “The deaths in Derry have been investigated at a cost of almost £200m when in fact we all knew the answer and we all knew that a huge error had been made.” He told peers that, as a TA soldier, he had “run the gauntlet of planned IRA assassination and of personal attack”.
“But one has got to remember the many, many people who were not rioting, who had not broken away from a peacefulparade to confront soldiers who themselves had never been trained for that sort of confrontation in anurban guerrilla warfare situation.” Mr Maginnis said that was the background against which the Saville report should be seen and he urged people not to “dismiss” the many deaths, the victims of terrorism, that had not been the subject of costly inquiries.
In an emotional intervention, the Reverend William McCrea (DUP South Antrim) said the prime minister would not like to support a “hierarchy of victimhood” and listed family members who had been murdered during the Troubles. He said no one had ever been charged over the murders: “How do we get closure? How do we get justice and how do we get the truth?”
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he had spoken with “great power and emotion” about how people “on all sides had suffered”. And people on the unionist side had suffered “particularly badly”.
There was no easy way to get closure. “We have the historical inquiry team. They go through case after case. If they find the evidence, prosecutions can take place.” Nigel Dodds (DUP Belfast North) said it was difficult to see how the report could lead to “closure and cleansing” if it was used “as a springboard for more years of agitation in terms of prosecutions over events that happened 38 years ago”.
Cameron said: “I hope it won’t be used as a ‘springboard’ for further inquiries or for further action. This is supposed to be something that will help by delivering the truth to help achieve closure.”