The day after Bloody Sunday, British Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling announces a tribunal of inquiry “into the circumstances of the march and the incidents leading up to the casualties which resulted”. After being denied the right to provide an eye-witness account of what happened, an emotional Bernadette Devlin, the 24 year old MP for Mid-Ulster who had been on the speakers platform in Derry the previous day, calls Maudling a “murdering hypocrite.”
“On a point of order. I am the only person in this House who was present yesterday when, whatever the facts of the situation might be said —[Interruption.] Shut up! I have a right, as the only representative in this House who was an eye witness, to ask a question of that murdering hypocrite—
walks across the floor of the House of Commons and strikes him across the face. Devlin later says “”I’m just sorry I didn’t get him by the throat”.
House of Commons Debate on Bloody Sunday: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1972/jan/31/northern-ireland
Interview with Bernadette Devlin following her attack on Home Secretary Reginald Maudling: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00nm166
The tribunal of inquiry was to be headed by Lord Chief Justice Widgery. The dreadful events of January 30 would be compounded just a few months later when in what can only be called a fabrication of the true events of the day, Widgery ( a former army brigadier) added fuel to an already extremely emotional period by claiming the actions of the British troops were justified. blaming the organizers of the march for the deaths.The publication of the Widgery Report provided another recruiting boost to the IRA. Widgery’s irresponsible whitewash of the actions of British paratroopers were totally repudiated by the later Saville Inquiry, the results of which saw Prime Minister David Cameron issue an unequivocal apology to the families of those killed on Bloody Sunday.
Article on Bernadette Devlin: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/the-womens-blog-with-jane-martinson/2011/oct/15/bernadette-devlin-london-film-festival