Bloody Sunday: the Saville report as it happened

• Saville inquiry strongly condemns behaviour of soldiers who opened fire and exonerates victims
• David Cameron issues apology on behalf of government
• PM will not say whether he thinks soldiers should be prosecuted
Read the Bloody Sunday report in full
• Read a summary of what we know so far

9.51am: Twelve years after the Saville inquiry began hearing evidence about the Bloody Sunday shootings, its report will finally be published today in Derry and London. The investigation into the killing of 14 civil rights marchers in 1972 runs to 5,000 pages and 10 volumes, and reportedly cost £191m to produce.

Families of the victims are due to march this morning to the Guildhall in Derry, starting at 10.30am, to symbolically complete the march cut short by the shootings on 30 January 1972.

This morning the families will get to read the report. It will be published at 3.30pm, when David Cameron will announce its publication to the Commons.

I will be following events here with input from my colleagues in Derry and London throughout the day.

Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside area.
Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday shootings march from the Bogside area of Londonderry to the Guildhall holding photographs of their relatives today. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

10.06am: BBC News are currently showing footage of the silent march by the families, who are holding up pictures of the victims.

10.09am: This was the Guardian's leader column on the killings the day after Bloody Sunday. It begins:

Live blog: quote

The disaster in Londonderry last night dwarfs all that has gone before in Northern Ireland. The march was illegal. Warning had been given of the danger implicit in continuing with it. Even so, the deaths stun the mind and must fill all reasonable people with horror. And yet it is too soon to be sure of what happened. The army has an intolerably difficult task in Ireland. At times it is bound to act firmly, even severely.

Thirty-eight years on, the events of the day and the motivations of the soldiers are still being examined. The editorial goes on to examine possible solutions to the problem of Northern Ireland, noting "for the British it is no solution to get out and leave the place to bloody civil war". The answer revolves around three elements, it says: "security, a timetable for talks and ending internment, and a programme of economic aid".

This is Simon Winchester's original Guardian report, which begins:

Live blog: quote

The tragic and inevitable Doomsday situation which has been universally forecast for Northern Ireland arrived in Londonderry yesterday afternoon when soldiers, firing into a large crowd of civil rights demonstrators, shot and killed 13 people.

This is a Guardian report from Winchester on 1 February 1972, detailing the protests and violence that followed the killings, including two bombs in Belfast.

This is an article by Winchester published four days before Bloody Sunday, warning that the chances of "violent clashes" at the weekend's civil rights march in Derry are "becoming stronger every day".

Winchester is back in Derry today following the march and will be reporting again for the Guardian and looking back at the events he reported on in 1972.

My colleague Owen Bowcott has put together an archive piece detailing nine Guardian articles from the days following the shootings.

10.20am: Here is a clip of footage from the Bloody Sunday march, showing clashes between protesters and police. At around 4.50 a reporter says:

Live blog: quote

The organisers of this civil rights march promised that it would be non-violent. The army has said throughout the day that they hope to use minimum force. But three hours after the procession began, this has ended up ... as the worst confrontation between the army and the Catholic people of the Creggan and the Bogside.

The footage in this second clip is clearer, although it is overdubbed with music.

10.27am: My colleague Simon Rogers has written a Datablog post on the numbers of casualties of the Troubles since 1969. 2008 appears to be the high watermark of peace – the only year when nobody was killed. By contrast 1972, the year of Bloody Sunday, was the year when the highest number were killed: 479 people.

And my colleagues Paddy Allen and Paul Scruton have produced a very informative interactive map explaining how the day unfolded.

10.33am: The Guardian's complete coverage of the Bloody Sunday inquiry can be found here.

I found Eamonn McCann's interviews with those wounded on Bloody Sunday and the families of the dead particularly interesting.

10.41am: According to the BBC, the families have just gone in to read the report.

10.53am: Here is an audio report from Simon Winchester, looking back at his own experience of Bloody Sunday. He said:

Simon Winchester, journalist and author.
Simon Winchester, journalist and author. Photograph: Don Heupel/AP Photograph: Don Heupel/AP

My small number of contacts in the Provisional IRA had said that they anticipated that the soldiers might come and sort of try and search the Bogside because for many weeks previously the police had been completely banned, and the assumption was that the soldiers would use this opportunity to go in and go in hard and conduct a lot of house-to-house searches and so the Provos got their weapons out, so I didn't think there'd be any significant amount of gunfire.

I was inside the army barricades, it was the Royal Green Jackets, had about 15 barricades I think, so I tried at one stage to get out but the soldiers said, "No, you jolly well take what's coming to you." I sort of remember that as a somewhat ominous remark.

And then shouting started, "soldiers coming, soldiers, quick, quick, the soldiers," and people started screaming people started running and then I saw the pigs, the armoured cars, the Saracens coming in very fast.

So I started to run in common with everybody else. There was shooting, there was a lot of very heavy thudding shouting. And people started dropping and someone next to me that I was running with suddenly fell over and I turned round and I could see there was blood gushing from his leg.

There's this awful realisation that people are being shot. I remember thinking that Ireland has changed forever, this was a truly historic event.

10.55am: On Twitter, nicofell has pointed out a great Bloody Sunday page on UTV's website. It has a number of videos, background material, analysis and profiles of those involved.

10.59am: Henry McDonald, the Ireland correspondent for the Guardian and Observer, has sent me this from Derry:

Henry McDonald
Henry McDonald. Photograph: Guardian

The boxes containing the massive 5,000-page report into the Bloody Sunday massacre are now inside Derry's Guildhall.

Families and relatives of those killed and wounded on the day are currently in the Guildhall and are at present reading the report's contents.

Outside the building preparations are under way to cope with an estimated 10,000 people who are to congregate in Guildhall Square to watch David Cameron's announcement of the Saville report's publication at 3.30pm. Around the area there is only a small presence of police officers who are positioned close to the banks of the River Foyle, discretely away from the main event in Derry city centre.

Helicopters are buzzing overhead but they do not belong either to the police or British army but rather two major national broadcasters who will show live aerial pictures from Guildhall Square later today.

11.06am: In the comments, AntiTerrorist asks:

Live blog: comment

How long is the report, and how long will it take the families to read. I figure it's got to be pretty lengthy.

The report is around 5,000 pages long with a 60-page summary. The families will see it this morning, journalists this afternoon – and no one is allowed to discuss or reveal the findings before the official publication time of 3.30pm. Journalists are not even allowed to take laptops into the room – they are only allowed to make notes with pen and paper. It will presumably take quite a while for both the families and the media to fully digest the findings, although the main points will quickly be obvious.

11.10am: The press has seemed to line up on different sides over Bloody Sunday over the past few days. Today the Daily Telegraph quotes relatives of the dead who feel soldiers who shot civilians should be prosecuted but not jailed, and quotes "a senior Parachute Regiment officer who was serving in the regiment on Bloody Sunday" as saying: "There is a recognition that some soldiers performed in a less than perfect manner but we would consider it unfair if they were to face criminal charges."

Yesterday the Daily Mail highlighted justice secretary Kenneth Clarke's comments that the inquiry was a "disaster". Today the Mail prints a comment piece from General Sir Michael Rose, the former head of the SAS, headed: "It wasn't Blair who brought piece to Ulster but brave British soldiers about to be branded as criminals".

Meanwhile, the Times's Ben Macintyre compares the attitude to history represented by the Bloody Sunday inquiry with that of French president Charles de Gaulle: "One [de Gaulle] sought to soften and simplify the past, the other has worked to expose the truth, however ugly". He adds:

Live blog: quote

I have often wondered whether Britain, under Nazi occupation, would have behaved any differently from the French. Probably not, but the long, detailed, painful investigation into Bloody Sunday suggests that we have at last learnt the benefits of confronting the darkest moments in our history, and the danger of hoping that, if ignored for long enough, they will simply go away.

The Independent leads on the report, characterising the Saville report as "undoing the damage" caused by Lord Widgery's original 558-word investigation into the killings, which found only that the soldiers' firing "bordered on the reckless".

Inside Don Mullan recalls taking part in the march:

Live blog: quote

There was something surreal about watching television coverage of a bloodbath I had just escaped, at the bottom of the local hill. This was something that happened in Sharpeville or Soweto, but not in Derry. Certainly not to neighbours and friends.

11.15am: My colleague Esther Addley, who is from Derry, has sent the following note on the city's two names: Londonderry and Derry.

Esther Addley
Esther Addley Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian Photograph: Linda Nylind/Guardian

The city of Derry (meaning "oak grove") was renamed Londonderry during the plantation of Ulster in 1613, to reflect the involvement of a number of London guilds. It remains the official name. However, the local council has been Derry City Council since 1984, and the local airport, football club, rugby club etc all use Derry. While it is often said that Protestants prefer "Londonderry" and Catholics "Derry" this is not strictly the case. The (Protestant) Apprentice Boys, who commemorate the 1689 siege of the city and Protestant resistance, are called the Apprentice Boys of Derry (the loyalist anthem The Sash also refers to Derry), and common usage in the city is to use the original, rather than colonial, name. It is this paper's style to call it Derry.

11.30am: A Downing Street spokesman has just said that David Cameron regards Lord Saville's report as "a very important statement", according to the Press Association. The news agency reports:

Live blog: quote

The prime minister's official spokesman said Mr Cameron and Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson had received copies of the report at 3.30pm yesterday – 24 hours before the official publication.

"He [Cameron] has obviously seen that and been briefed by officials," the spokesman said.

11.35am: The Press Association also has some interesting facts about the report:

Live blog: quote

Around 2,500 people gave evidence, with 922 of these called to give oral testimony, including 505 civilians, nine experts and forensic scientists, 49 journalists, 245 military, 35 paramilitaries or former paramilitaries, 39 politicians and civil servants, seven priests and 33 Royal Ulster Constabulary officers. Evidence ran to 160 volumes of data with an estimated 30 million words, 13 volumes of photographs, 121 audio tapes and 10 video tapes.

11.39am: My colleagues Henry McDonald and Owen Bowcott have sent me this report from Derry. Sir Reg Empey, the leader of the Ulster Unionist party, which has an electoral pact with the Conservatives, has said that the Saville report has caused pain and division in Northern Ireland. He also demanded there be no more Bloody Sunday tribunals.

Live blog: quote

Speaking just hours before the report is due to be released, the leader of the UUP-Conservative alliance said: "The cost of Saville has not just been the £200m of taxpayers' money. It is also in the pain and division it has brought through a selective investigation into the past. It has brought Northern Ireland back to a time of bloodshed and bitter divisions. It has alienated many because of its focus on the loss of some. If we have learnt one thing, it must be this: no more Savilles."

The UUP leader predicted that the report would cause difficulties for the political process in the province.

"While former soldiers from the Parachute Regiment and their commanders were exposed to intense scrutiny of their actions on that day, the IRA and its members have not been exposed to similar scrutiny. It was the IRA which created the context for Bloody Sunday, forcing the government to deploy the military on the streets of Northern Ireland. And it was the IRA which targeted and murdered soldiers and police officers in the run-up to Bloody Sunday. This leaves a question mark hanging over the actions of the deputy first minister Martin McGuinness. By his own admission, he was second in command of the IRA in Derry in January 1972. When asked during the Saville inquiry about IRA activities in the events leading up to and on the day itself, he refused to answer on the basis of the Republican 'code of honour'.

"His refusal to provide an honest and complete account of his activities leaves many significant questions unanswered."

11.50am: My colleague Michael White wrote a thought-provoking blogpost the other day about what happens in Derry and Northern Ireland after the report has been published. He asked:

Michael White
Michael White. Photograph: Linda Nylind Photograph: Linda Nylind

Should prosecutions be launched 30 years after the event? If viable evidence can be mustered from the millions of words of long-ago recollection, that is the logic of Blair's mandate to Saville and the report's conclusion. There is no immunity under Saville rules for anyone committing perjury.

But prosecution will surely only trigger tit-for-tat demands for justice against known republican killers on the grounds that – as McDonald reports – some of the Troubles dead seem to be "more equal than others".

We will have to talk it through in the weeks and months ahead, give it a final airing. But I suspect the wise answer may be to let it go after that, once we know – at £191m let's hope we do – what actually happened and why.

11.55am: For those such as AntiTerrorist (in the comments) who may be wondering how long it will take for those reading the immense report to understand its findings, I am told that, at the end of the report's 60-page summary, there will be a one and a half page summary of the summary.

Families of the victims of Bloody Sunday march to the Guildhall in Derry to read Saville report
Families of the victims of Bloody Sunday march to the Guildhall in Derry to read Lord Saville's report into the killings today. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

12.05pm: More on this morning's silent march by relatives of the victims. According to my colleague Owen Bowcott in Derry, two representatives of each of those killed or wounded – a total of 56 family members – met at the Derry city walls at 9.45am. They gathered around the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association monument to the Bloody Sunday dead that stands on the edge of the Bogside. Owen reports:

Owen Bowcott
Owen Bowcott Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian Photograph: Linda Nylind/Guardian

After a round of applause, the families walked through the Bogside where the killings took place in 1972. They carried pictures of the dead bearing the motto: "Set the truth free". As they moved forward in silence a phalanx of cameramen and photographers walked backwards in front of them. At William Street, where in 1972 army barricades blocked their progress into the city centre, the procession turned in towards the Guildhall. Some wore suits, some t-shirts. Many had grey or white hair, a reminder of the passage off time and their long wait for what they hope may finally deliver justice.

Owen quotes Joe Friel, who was shot by a paratrooper on Bloody Sunday and was one of the silent marchers this morning and was in the first group of families permitted into the Guildhall to view the Saville report. Friel said:

Live blog: quote

I was in Glenfada Park estate when the shooting started. I was trying to get home across the road to the Rossville Flats. "There was a real crowd and when I heard [the gunfire] I hid behind a broken-down car. There was a lull in the shooting so I got up but I saw a soldier who was firing from the hip. Other soldiers came running into the estate and Jim Wray [another civil rights marcher] went down. A soldier put two bullets into him as he lay on the ground.

I managed to stay on my feet and kept moving. I had been hit in the chest. I kept going but fell to the ground. People picked me up and carried me away.

Here is a full story on the march by Owen Bowcott and Haroon Siddique.

12.10pm: Henry McDonald is outside the Guildhall in Derry. He says that Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness and Conor Murphy joined the families' march from the Bogside to the Guildhall.

Henry McDonald
Henry McDonald. Photograph: Guardian

McGuinness, who admitted during the Saville inquiry that he was second in command of the IRA in Derry in 1972, is now deputy first minister of Northern Ireland. He said people around the globe would be anxiously awaiting the publication of the Saville report.

"This is a big day for Derry," the Sinn Féin MP added. "This is a big day for Ireland. This is a big day for the world, because the eyes of the world are looking at what is going to happen."

12.25pm: Henry McDonald has also been speaking to Ivan Cooper, the civil rights leader who led the march on 30 January 1972. Cooper called for General Robert Ford, the former British commander of land forces, to be prosecuted over the Bloody Sunday killings. Cooper said:

Live blog: quote

He should be arrested and tried because he commanded the Paras that day. The buck should stop with him. People at the top should be accountable for these killings and that means the military commanders who were in charge of those soldiers.

Asked if he thought it was right to try and possibly jail military commanders who were now retired, Cooper said: "They jail priests in Ireland who are in their 80s for abuse."

Cooper was a founding member of the SDLP and was portrayed by Ulster-born actor James Nesbitt in Bloody Sunday, the television drama that recreated the events of that day. Henry writes:

Henry McDonald
Henry McDonald. Photograph: Guardian

Now visibly frail and walking on a crutch, the veteran civil rights campaigner said he was "apprehensive about this day".

He added: "The people have waited and prayed for this day for 38 years. I hope they are all declared innocent which is exactly what they were. I saw with my own eyes on that day innocent people being shot dead and those who were in command of the soldiers who fired those shots should be accountable."

12.32pm: Peter Pringle and Philip Jacobson, who were sent to Derry by the Sunday Times in the aftermath of the killings and spent two months there interviewing people, wrote vividly about their experiences this weekend.

Live blog: quote

The families of the victims took us into their homes and into their hearts; people such as Lawrence McElhinney, whose son, Kevin, aged 17, wearing his Sunday best, a brown suit and new brown zip-up boots, threw some stones at the paras before fleeing the Rossville barricade as the live rounds came in. He was shot before reaching the flats.

The relatives remembered the brief and brutally truncated lives of their children, producing cherished photographs of happier times. Some of those we talked to still clung to the clothes their children were wearing when they died. One family had preserved a bar of candy that their son took to the march.

In their barracks in Belfast, the paras who fired shots made their own statements, equally harrowing, to the military police. Few of the young soldiers involved had ever before fired a shot in anger from their 7.62mm rifles, a weapon designed for use on the modern battlefield and capable of inflicting devastating injuries at close range.

But the pair ran into trouble over two decades later when Lord Saville, beginning his investigation, asked for all their original memos and notebooks and his staff wanted more information.

Live blog: quote

We stalled. The information had been received in confidence, we pleaded. Lives could be at stake, certainly our reputations as investigative journalists ... We soon learnt the perils of having our notebooks in the public domain. One of our original sources threatened legal action because, he charged, we had betrayed him. In his terms and ours, most unwillingly, we had. Another of our unintended victims, in an effort to protect earlier recollections, would astonish us by falsely suggesting that we had been working for British intelligence. We never did, then or since.

Bloody Sunday massacre in Northern Ireland
Soldiers from 1 Para during the Bloody Sunday riots in Derry in 1972 Photograph: Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Ala/Alamy Photograph: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Ala/Alamy

12.43pm: Here is a lunchtime summary:

Live blog: recap

Families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday killings have arrived at Derry's Guildhall to read Lord Saville's report.

• The report into the 1972 shootings, which killed 14 people, will be published at 3.30pm.

• At that time, David Cameron will make a statement on Bloody Sunday to the House of Commons.

• The leader of the 1972 march, Ivan Cooper, has called for General Robert Ford, the former British commander of land forces, to be prosecuted over the shootings. (See 12.25pm.)

Sir Reg Empey, the leader of the Ulster Unionist party which is allied with the Conservatives, has said the inquiry caused "pain and division ... through a selective investigation into the past". (See 11.39am.)

12.46pm: Here are details of the 14 people killed on Bloody Sunday. Thirteen died that day, one died from his injuries four and a half months later.

12.55pm: My colleague Hélène Mulholland points out that the Press Association news agency reported earlier today how the Bloody Sunday inquiry moved to the Methodist central hall in Westminster for a 13-month period to hear evidence from political and military witnesses who feared their lives would be in danger if they travelled to Derry. Many gave evidence anonymously and behind screens.

Key witnesses in this London phase included Sir Edward Heath, the former Tory prime minister, who died in 2005. Heath gave evidence in January 2003, making him at that point Britain's second former prime minister to appear before a government-appointed public inquiry.

Live blog: quote

Heath dismissed as "absurd" claims the killings were planned and covered up by the then government. It was a "disaster" which damaged the political process, boosted IRA support and helped underpin decades of sectarian violence that prevented a peace deal from being struck for 30 years, he said.

Another witness was Lord Carrington, the former defence secretary. He said Downing Street thought the bloodshed was "fairly disastrous" but refused to blame the army for the killings.

Live blog: quote

He said: "I can state quite categorically that it was never policy to shoot unless a target had been identified as a threat ... to suggest there was a deliberate policy to shoot civilians is ludicrous and something that no politician would ever agree to."

Others giving evidence included Soldier 027, 1 Para's former radio operative. He described a paratrooper killing a marcher in cold blood, unjustified shootings of people whom he believed were not a threat, and efforts by paras immediately afterwards to cover their tracks.

Sir Allan Green, representing many of the soldiers, branded 027 as a "fantasy merchant" who was trying to cash in on the tragedy.

Live blog: quote

His case was not helped by him flushing his contemporaneously written field notebook down the toilet after details from it became public in 1975, Sir Allan argued. Soldier 027 said his personal diary notes of Bloody Sunday were stolen by French transvestites who mugged him on the Paris metro.

General Sir Robert Ford, the commander of the land forces who Ivan Cooper said today should be prosecuted (see 12.25pm), was in charge of day-to-day army operations in Northern Ireland but maintained he was only an observer on the day.

Ford denied ordering the paratroopers into the Bogside or putting pressure on Brigadier Pat MacLellan, Commander of 8th Brigade, who was in charge of all the paratroopers in Derry, by telling him to get "a move on".

Live blog: quote

Three weeks before Bloody Sunday Ford sent a top-secret memo saying the best way to help maintain law and order was to "shoot selected ringleaders" among the Bogside's stone-throwing rioters – dubbed the Derry Young Hooligans. Many believe this was the army's strategy, although the officer denied this. He told the inquiry "there was certainly nothing to be proud of" and he was "extremely sad" about the bloodshed. He did not accept any blame for what happened. He accepted responsibility for using 1 Para.

Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford, the former commanding officer of the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, said his soldiers were in control at all times and returned fire within the rules of engagement after being shot at first.

He insisted there was nothing to stop him going into the Bogside and he had no intention of conducting a running battle. Brigadier Pat MacLellan insisted that he, and not General Sir Robert, ordered the paratroopers into the Bogside. The order was given after the hooligans who were attacking the troops had separated from marchers. He also checked with Lieutenant Colonel Peter Welsh who was overlooking the scene in a helicopter. MacLellan said he was "upset" by growing suggestions that he had "underestimated the risk".

Army logs record that his order was for one unit to enter, but several units entered at different points. They also became involved in a running battle after driving in armoured vehicles down to the Rossville Flats.

Major General Peter Welsh, a lieutenant colonel commanding the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Green Jackets, had observed events from an army Sioux helicopter and had raised his concerns about 1 Para's deployment in a phone call to General Sir David Ramsbotham, then the military assistant to General Carver, who said he later "mentioned it" to Carver.

In his statement, Ramsbotham said: "His [Welsh's] feeling, with which I agreed, was that Londonderry was different to Belfast. 1 Para were the wrong people for this operation."

In a Sunday Times interview 20 years later, he said it was "mad" to deploy the paratroopers.

1.07pm: Andrew Sparrow,'s senior political correspondent, is in Westminster monitoring the political reaction to the report's imminent publication. He will be taking over this live blog from 3pm to cover David Cameron's statement. He sends the following:

Andrew Sparrow
Andrew Sparrow. Photograph: Linda Nylind Photograph: Linda Nylind

David Cameron, who will be presenting the findings of the Saville inquiry in the House of Commons this afternoon, was five at the time of Bloody Sunday. When Tony Blair set up the inquiry in 1998, Cameron was not even an MP. He did not set out to become prime minister because he wanted to spend his life dealing with Northern Ireland. But, as prime ministers have found, on and off, for more than 100 years, it's part of the job description, and today we'll get a sense of how Cameron handles the task.

For the government, the report is a bit of a nightmare. The relatives of the Bloody Sunday victims want to see soldiers being prosecuted. But unionist politicians are unhappy with the idea of some victims of the Troubles apparently getting "special treatment", and the Ministry of Defence just wants to forget about the whole shameful affair. Cameron will be expected to say something about the prospect of court action, although ultimately any decision would have to be taken by the public prosecution service in Northern Ireland. There's a risk that one side, or another, or possibly both, will feel let down by Cameron's response. But he is, by nature, a conciliator and he will want to ensure that the Saville report does as little damage as possible to the slightly shaky cross-party peace settlement in Northern Ireland.

1.22pm: For those who missed it, the drama based on the Saville inquiry and written by my colleague Richard Norton-Taylor was repeated on Radio 4 last week. Bloody Sunday: Scenes from the Saville Inquiry was first performed in 2005. Part one is here, and part two here.

1.24pm: If Cameron apologises for Bloody Sunday today, he will be going further than Tony Blair did when he announced the Saville inquiry in 1998.

The BBC website reported at the time that, "as expected, the prime minister did not pre-empt the outcome of the inquiry by offering an apology for the killings".

Live blog: quote

The Conservative leader, William Hague, said he was sceptical about the need for a new inquiry but welcomed the lack of early contrition.

"It would have been bizarre for you to make an apology in advance of any inquiry," he said.

He added: "If the prime minister is personally satisfied, on the basis of the strong advice he has received, that genuine, fresh and compelling evidence has now been submitted, which is significant enough to warrant the reopening of the inquiry, then we shall accept his judgment."

2.13pm: Here is a gallery of some pictures from today so far.

2.24pm: The BBC is reporting that there are about 2,000 people gathered on the Bogside today for the second – and much bigger – march to the Guildhall. I can see Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, being photographed by the press. There will be a giant screen at the Guildhall for the public to watch David Cameron make his statement marking the publication of the report at 3.30pm.

2.27pm: On the Derry Journal website, Tony Doherty, whose father, Patrick, was killed on Bloody Sunday, says that Cameron needs to "acknowledge he enormity of the crime that Bloody Sunday was and is" and maintains that "the British public has the right to know what has been done in their name".

He adds:

Live blog: quote

The British public know little about Ireland but I suspect what they think they know is that their boys were over here doing a good job keeping two warring sides apart and that they have brought about peace at last. Bloody Sunday tells a different story. In terms of what we may be about to be told, Bloody Sunday was an atrocity committed by the crack Parachute Regiment of the British army against innocent civil rights demonstrators in broad daylight in front of thousands of witnesses.

On the same website, the Foyle MP and former SDLP leader Mark Durkan discusses his own experiences of Bloody Sunday.

Durkan was 11 when the killings happened and tells the paper:

Live blog: quote

We were playing football near home when someone shouted from the pavement to tell us that the army had shot people on the march and that people were dead.

Running home, we got more emotional and garbled versions of what had happened. I still remember hearing one man say they sent in the paratroopers and there was a massacre.

When I got home, the TV and radio news was talking of two people being dead and others injured. The death toll on the news mounted over a number of bulletins but even before that we knew from the shocking stories from neighbours and friends many people had been cut down.

He also talks about the anger he felt towards the British army after "the arrogant excuse from senior army officers".

One dismissed Fr Anthony Mulvey's denunciation of murder of innocent people with the words, "That priest's a liar." I had listened to "that priest" on the previous morning thunder against the Provisional IRA when he preached at the funeral mass of Constable Gilgunn who had been murdered with a colleague in Derry that week.

The Derry Journal will open a live webchat on the Bloody Sunday report from 4pm.

2.38pm: In the unionist newspaper the Belfast News Letter, the brother of a man killed by the IRA in the weeks before Bloody Sunday says "republicans never let go of things" if they think there is "mileage in something" that can be used to attack the British, and attacks what he calls a "hierarchy of victims".

Lisburn Ulster Unionist councillor Ronnie Crawford's brother Maynard was a part-time Ulster Defence Regiment sergeant in 1972 when he was shot and killed by the IRA.

Crawford tells the newspaper:

Live blog: quote

The Bloody Sunday victims were killed during a spontaneous riot, and the deaths are regrettable, but others have been deliberately and brutally murdered and we are just expected to forget and move on.

The £190m spent on the inquiry was ridiculous as it was an act of appeasement to republicans. Tony Blair was responsible for that and I have more contempt for Tony Blair than for Martin McGuinness or any other member of the IRA past or present.

2.49pm: The Times's live blog is reporting that the crowd heading towards the Guildhall is about to sing We Shall Overcome. At least 5,000 people have gathered in the streets, its reporter says. The paper quotes Gerry Adams as saying:

Live blog: quote

I think what happened on Bloody Sunday was a huge watershed moment in the history of this island. I think the families have kept faith with those who were murdered. Within an hour we will know the outcome. I felt it was important to be here to support the families.

But asked if soldiers ought to be prosecuted he said: "I'm not going to speculate about what the report will say."

2.53pm: The BBC News helicopter is now showing crowds massing in the streets of Derry, walking towards the Guildhall. It's an impressive sight. They are walking slowly, singing We Shall Overcome, and carrying banners. The BBC reporter has just said there are thousands of people there.

2.54pm: The crowd is cheering as Ivan Cooper, the civil rights leader who led the march on 30 January 1972, is taken in his wheelchair towards the Guildhall.

2.56pm: My colleague Andrew Sparrow sends the following from the House of Commons:

Andrew Sparrow
Andrew Sparrow. Photograph: Linda Nylind Photograph: Linda Nylind

What's David Cameron going to say in his statement? I don't know for sure. But I've just been reading the statement Tony Blair made in the Commons when he set up the Saville inquiry in January 1998 and I'm pretty sure that Cameron will be echoing some of the points Blair made 12 years ago.

• Exonerating the victims. Tony Blair said that the victims were innocent and that they had not been carrying arms or explosives. This is very important to the relatives, who still feel very bitter about the way the original Widgery inquiry said that some of those shot had been carrying guns or explosives on the day. Blair was just echoing something that John Major had said on behalf of the British government in 1992. Cameron is likely to make the same point today.

• Praising the role played by the armed forces in Northern Ireland. Bloody Sunday was a dreadful day for the army, but Blair made a point of saying that he had the "strongest admiration" for the role played by the security forces over the years during the Troubles. Cameron, who praised soldiers handsomely in Afghanistan last week, is almost certain to say something similar.

• Acknowledging the 3,500 other victims of the Troubles. Unionists are unhappy about the way that the 13 people killed on Bloody Sunday get more attention than the 3,500 other people killed during the Troubles, many as a result of republican terrorism. Blair said their pain felt by their relatives was "no less" than the pain felt by the Bloody Sunday victims. Cameron is likely to repeat that sentiment.

• Accepting that Bloody Sunday was different. Blair said the Bloody Sunday killings were not the same as terrorist killings because state forces were involved. Cameron presumably accepts that argument too.

• Praising the relatives. Blair said that the relatives of the Bloody Sunday victims had acted with dignity and that mostly they did not want recrimination or revenge, but the truth. Cameron is likely to make a similar point.

• Suggesting that the truth can promote reconciliation. This was one of Blair's aims in setting up the inquiry. Cameron also wants reconciliation.

• An apology? Blair did not apologise for Bloody Sunday, although while he was in office he did apologise for Britain's role in other historic tragedies, like the Irish famine. There was speculation that Blair would apologise for Bloody Sunday 12 years ago but, as William Hague pointed out at the time (see 1.24pm), it would have been odd to apologise at the start of the inquiry. But today may be the day for Cameron make up for the omission.

Marchers arrive at the Guildhall in Derry to wait for Lord Saville's Bloody Sunday report
Marchers arrive at the Guildhall in Derry to wait for the publication of Lord Saville's Bloody Sunday report today. Photograph: BBC News Photograph: BBC News

2.58pm: Crowds cheering as the front of the march arrives at the Guildhall.

2.59pm: The banners they are carrying are giant black and white pictures of those who were killed.

3.01pm: A large screen in Guildhall Square is showing photographs from 30 January 1972.

Simon Winchester, who reported on Bloody Sunday for the Guardian in 1972 and has returned to write about the report today, has just been speaking to me on the phone from outside the Guildhall in Derry.

He said the atmosphere was a "combination of solemn and respectful". You certainly could not describe it as a carnival atmosphere. There was a sense of waiting and expectation.

Simon Winchester, journalist and author.
Simon Winchester, journalist and author. Photograph: Don Heupel/AP Photograph: Don Heupel/AP

The march was led by a group of people holding portraits of those they had lost. Others were holding banners of portraits of the victims. Wherever they pass they get applause.

I asked him if he had heard figures such as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness speak.

Live blog: quote

They said all the things you'd expect: it's up to the victims to decide if they want to take further action. All eyes are on two things: one is the Guildhall here in front of me, one is the victims' families. They seem to be accorded a great deal of respect. No one in the nationalist community does not know someone involved [on Bloody Sunday].

I asked whether the unionist community had been visible.

Live blog: quote

Well, they're all on the other side of the Foyle river. They have kept themselves to themselves.

Live blog: substitution

3.12pm: Hi, it's Andrew Sparrow here, taking over from Paul Owen. I'll be blogging for the rest of the day. Cameron will be making his statement in the Commons at 3.30pm. There will also be a statement in the Lords later. Normally Lords statements (which involve a Lords minister repeating the statement made in the Commons) don't attract much interest. But today's will be worth keeping an eye on because politicians who were around at the time of Bloody Sunday are now more likely to be sitting in the Lords than the Commons.

3.27pm: The Anne Frank Trust has sent me a news release about the Bloody Sunday report. Gillian Walnes, the trust's director, said: "The link between the Holocaust victim Anne Frank and the tragic events of Bloody Sunday may initially seem tenuous as the Anne Frank Trust is of course an overtly non political organisation. However, the story of Anne's short life is a timely reminder of what hatred and suspicion between people can lead to, destroying the lives of the most innocent and those who crave peace." She has sent out the release because an Anne Frank exhibition is on tour in Northern Ireland.

3.28pm: The crowd at the Guildhall are now cheering wildly. Not sure why yet.

3.29pm: Relatives inside the Guildhall, who have been reading the report, are at the window with their thumbs up. They seem to have got what they wanted. That's why the crowd is cheering.

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks about the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday.
David Cameron making his statement on Bloody Sunday in the Commons today. Photograph: PA Photograph: PA

3.31pm: In the Commons, Cameron is speaking now.

3.32pm: Cameron says the conclusions are that what happened was unjustified and unjustifiable. "It was wrong." The first shot was fired by the British army.

3.32pm: In no case was any warning given by soldiers, Cameron says.

3.34pm: None of the casualties was posing a threat of death or serious injury, Cameron says.

3.35pm: Cameron says he is "deeply sorry" for what happened.

3.36pm: Cameron started his statement by saying he is "deeply patriotic". He never wants to believe anything bad about his country. But the conclusions of the report are "absolutely clear".

3.37pm: Cameron says the inquiry covers the actions of some individuals, including senior officers and Martin McGuiness. McGuiness was present and probably armed with a sub-machine gun, according to the report. But he did not do anything that could excuse soldiers opening fire, Cameron goes on.

3.38pm: British soldiers fired the first shots. There was some firing from the other side, but this did not justify what happened. There was a "widespread loss of discipline". The soldiers did not fire in response to attacks. And some of the soldiers lied about what happened (although Cameron does not use the word lie - he says they put forward false accounts).

3.38pm: Cameron says the responsibility for Bloody Sunday lies with the soldiers. None of the casualties was doing anything that could justify the shootings.

Judgments about "murder" and "unlawful killing" are matters for a court, he says, not a tribunal. (He implies that the phrase unlawful killing is not in the report.)

Cameron says you cannot support the army by defending the indefensible.

3.38pm: Cameron says:

Live blog: quote

What happened should never, ever have happened.

3.39pm: Cameron says those looking for premeditation, or a conspiracy, will not find it in the report.

Saville finds no evidence that there was a conspiracy. And he makes no suggestion of a cover-up, Cameron says.

3.40pm: Cameron pays tribute to the role played by the armed forces in Northern Ireland. Over 1,000 members of the security services lost their lives. Without their work, the peace process would never have happened.

3.42pm: Cameron thanks the tribunal. And he acknowledges the grief of the families. He says he hopes that, as one relative put it, the truth could set them free.

Cameron says his views on the cost of the inquiry are "well-documented". There will be no more open-ended inquiries into the past.

There will be a full day's debate on the report in the autumn, Cameron says.

The report demonstrates how the state should hold itself to account. Openness about our past does not make us weaker. It makes us stronger, Cameron says.

Cameron says violence is not justified.

No government Cameron leads will put democracy on an equal footing with terrorism.

3.43pm: Cameron quotes from the Saville report. Bloody Sunday was "a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland".

We must not forget the past, he goes on. But we must move on.

Cameron says he wants to build a prosperous future for Northern Ireland.

3.45pm: That was a very dignified statement from Cameron. He said he was sorry on behalf of the government. The Saville report condemns the action of the soldiers who opened fire. But – from what Cameron was saying – it sounds as if it may not have made specific recommendations relating to prosecutions.

3.45pm: The relatives are coming out of the Guildhall and being greeted with cheers by the crowd.

3.47pm: Harriet Harman is replying now on behalf of Labour. She says the value of the report cannot be overestimated.

She asks what action will be taken in government as a result of the Saville report.

And she asks about prosecutions. Has he been asked to consider the need for immunity from prosecution, in the interests of reconciliation? Harman seems to suggest that she would favour this approach.

3.47pm: Mickey McKinney, the chair of the families' group, is addressing the crowd. He says this is a historic day for Derry.

3.48pm: McKinney thanks the crowd for their encouragement and support. He introduces Kay Duddy, whose brother Jackie Duddy was killed on Bloody Sunday.

Duddy asks for a minute's silence for all those killed in the Troubles over the last 40 years. The crowd falls silent.

3.50pm: The only sound is the clicking of cameras and the whirring of helicopters overhead.

3.50pm: I've just been handed a copy of the 60-page summary of the report. Here are the final two sentences.

Live blog: quote

What happened on Bloody Sunday strengthened the Provisional IRA, increased nationalist resentment and hostility towards the army and exacerbated the violent conflict of the years that followed. Bloody Sunday was a tragedy for the bereaved and the wounded, and a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland.

3.51pm: Tony Doherty, the son of Patrick Doherty, says the Parachute Regiment has been disgraced and "their medals of honour have to be removed." He adds: "Widgery's great lie has been laid bare. It can now be proclaimed to the world that the civil rights marchers of Bloody Sunday were innocent one and all." He says it was the Paras' mission to "massacre people they thought [of] as enemies of the state".

3.53pm: Cameron has replied to Harman. He said that it was up to the public prosecution service to decide what to do about prosecutions. He played down the idea of granting people blanket immunity, although he said that witnesses who gave evidence had been assured that they could not be prosecuted on the basis of their evidence.

3.54pm: Here is a link to the Bloody Sunday report.

3.56pm: More from the report:

Live blog: quote

Our overall conclusion is that there was a serious and widespread loss of fire discipline among the soldiers of support company.

3.57pm: And here's another key line from the Saville report:

Live blog: quote

The soldiers of support company who went into Bogside did so as the result of an order by Colonel Wilford, which should not have been given and which was contrary to the orders he had received from Brigadier MacLellan.

4.01pm: In the Commons, Mark Durkan, the former SDLP leader, reads out the names of all the victims. He is almost in tears. He asks Cameron to say that they are all completely exonerated. And he says the parents of only one victim are now still alive to hear the prime minister's apology. He says he hopes today offers "a healing of history".

Cameron says he hopes that Durkan will be right about the healing of history. Durkan represents many of the families who lost loved ones.

Cameron says the Widgery report is now "fully superseded" by the Saville report.

The people killed on Bloody Sunday were innocent of anything that justified them being shot, he says.

4.04pm: Julian Lewis, the Tory MP for New Forest East, says an IRA sniper killed more than a dozen people but was released after serving just a short time in prison as a result of the Good Friday agreement. Should not someone like that go back to jail before soldiers get prosecuted for their role in Bloody Sunday?

Cameron says he does not want to draw "equivalence" between soldiers and terrorists. Soldiers operate under the rule of law.

4.09pm: Cameron says it is important he does not say anything that might prejudice a criminal prosecution, or a civil action in the courts.

In other words, he is sidestepping the issue of whether there should be a prosecution.

4.14pm: Here is a summary of what we know so far:

Live blog: recap

The Saville inquiry has strongly condemned the behaviour of the soldiers who opened fire on Bloody Sunday. It says there was "a serious and widespread loss of fire and discipline".

The inquiry exonerated the victims. It said they were not posing a threat of causing death or serious injury.

David Cameron issued an apology on behalf of the government. He said he was "deeply sorry" about what happened. The conclusions of the report were "shocking", he said.

Cameron would not say whether or not he thought soldiers should be prosecuted.

The inquiry criticised Lt Col Derek Wilford, the commanding officer of 1 Para, for sending his troops into Bogside against the orders of a senior officer.

It also said Martin McGuinness, now deputy first minister of Northern Ireland and the IRA's second-in-command in Derry at the time, was probably armed with a sub-machine gun on the day. But he did not do anything that justified soldiers opening fire.

4.25pm: My colleagues Hélène Mulholland and Henry McDonald have filed a story on the report.

4.26pm: A full text of Cameron's statement is now on the Downing Street website.

4.29pm: And here is the section of the report with the principal conclusions – ie the 60-page summary.

The full report is on the Bloody Sunday inquiry's website.

4.35pm: The report is quite damning about some of the soldiers. As Cameron said in his statement, Saville says some of them "knowingly put forward false accounts in order to seek to justify their firing". Here are two of the particularly critical paragraphs from the report. This is paragraph 3.102 from the "principal conclusions" report:

As to the further shooting in Rossville Street, which caused the deaths of William Nash, John Young and Michael McDaid, Corporal P claimed that he fired at a man with a pistol; Lance Corporal J claimed that he fired at a nail bomber; and Corporal E claimed that he fired at a man with a pistol in the Rossville Flats. We reject each of these claims as knowingly untrue. We are sure that these soldiers fired either in the belief that no one in the areas towards which they respectively fired was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, or not caring whether or not anyone there was posing such a threat. In their cases we consider that they did not fire in a state of fear or panic.

And this is paragraph 3.113:

We have no doubt that Lance Corporal F shot Patrick Doherty and Bernard McGuigan, and it is highly probable that he also shot Patrick Campbell and Daniel McGowan. In 1972 Lance Corporal F initially said nothing about firing along the pedestrianised area on the southern side of Block 2 of the Rossville Flats, but later admitted that he had done so. No other soldier claimed or admitted to firing into this area. Lance Corporal F's claim that he had fired at a man who had (or, in one account, was firing) a pistol was to his knowledge false. Lance Corporal F did not fire in a state of fear or panic. We are sure that he fired either in the belief that no one in the area into which he fired was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, or not caring whether or not anyone there was posing such a threat.

4.42pm: My colleagues who have had more chance to read the report say that Saville says that none of the killings were justified, but that the deaths can be divided into two categories: those killed by soldiers motivated by fear and panic; and those killed by soldiers who were not motivated by fear and panic.

Three of the deaths seem to be in the first category, and 11 in the second category.

(Thirteen people were killed on the day, and one other victim died of his injuries later.)

4.44pm: Cameron is still speaking in the Commons. Many MPs have complimented him on the way he presented his statement, although several raised concerns about the prospect of soldiers being prosecuted. Labour's Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) asked him if he agreed that "truth and justice" don't always go together.

Cameron has just paid tribute to Ian Paisley, the former first minister of Northern Ireland. The prime minister pointed out that Paisley was watching from the gallery. MPs aren't supposed to mention people in the gallery, and Cameron said he was being "unparliamentary", but the Speaker did not seem to mind.

4.46pm: Cameron has just said that he does not apologise lightly. He suggests that he disliked the way Tony Blair apologised for things like the Irish famine. But he explained why he was apologising today. What happened on Bloody Sunday was wrong, the government of the day is no longer around, and so it fell to him to issue an apology instead.

5.02pm: Back to the report. Here is the section explaining in more detail Saville's conclusion that all those killed were innocent and that the soldiers who killed them gave accounts of what happened that were not true:

None of the casualties shot by soldiers of Support Company was armed with a firearm or (with the probable exception of Gerald Donaghey) a bomb of any description. None was posing any threat of causing death or serious injury. In no case was any warning given before soldiers opened fire ...

Despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers. No one threw or threatened to throw a nail or petrol bomb at the soldiers on Bloody Sunday. There was some firing by republican paramilitaries (though nothing approaching that claimed by some soldiers) which we discuss in detail in this report, but in our view none of this firing provided any justification for the shooting of the civilian casualties. No soldier of Support Company was injured by gunfire on Bloody Sunday. Two suffered slight injuries from acid or a similar corrosive substance thrown down on them in bottles from the Rossville Flats.

Apart from Private T (who claimed to have fired at someone throwing down acid bombs from the Rossville Flats), all the soldiers who in our view were responsible for the casualties on Bloody Sunday sought to justify their shooting on the grounds that they were sure when they fired that they had targeted and hit someone who was armed with a firearm or a nail or petrol bomb and who was posing or about to pose a threat of causing death or serious injury.

In other words, all the soldiers (apart from Private T) who were in our view responsible for the casualties insisted that they had shot at gunmen or bombers, which they had not, and (with the possible exception of Lance Corporal F's belated admission with regard to Michael Kelly) did not accept that they had shot the known casualties, which they had. To our minds it inevitably followed that this materially undermined the credibility of the accounts given by the soldiers who fired.

5.10pm: The relatives of the Bloody Sunday victims seem to have warmly welcomed its findings. Even though it does not call for soldiers to be prosecuted, the relatives are pleased because the victims have been explicitly exonerated.

My colleague Owen Bowcott has sent the following about the families.

Owen Bowcott
Owen Bowcott Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian Photograph: Linda Nylind/Guardian

"When the state kills its citizens, [it] should be held to account," declared Tony Doherty, whose father Patrick was killed that day. "The search for truth and justice has been an inspiration for the people of Derry. No one who died in the struggle for justice will be forgotten."

At each mention of the victims' innocence, the applause and clapping swelled, reverberating off the city's 17th century walls. A representative of each of the families spokes in turn. "My brother was running away from the soldiers when he was shot," said Joe Doddy said of his brother Jackie. "At the time he was posing no threat. [The Widgery report] destroyed our loved ones' good names. Today we clear them. I'm delighted to say that Jackie was innocent."

A copy of the hated report by Lord Widgery that, in 1972, accused the victims of firing weapons or handling bombs was torn apart by one of the families' representatives.

Several families quoted the text of the Saville report, exultant that it specifically cleared the victims of the taint of being gunmen or nail-bombers.

Catherine Kelly, whose younger brother Michael died, said: "The wait has been almost 40 years. Today the truth has been told. I say to my little brother Michael, at last you can rest in peace forever."

Kate Nash, whose brother William died in the Bogside, announced that "38 years ago a story went around the world concoted by General Mike Jackson. He said there was gunmen and bombers on our streets and they were shot. Today that lie has been uncovered. My brother William knew he was innocent. We have always known he was innocent. Now the world knows."

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was killed by the paratroopers, he told the waiting crowds outside the Guildhall: "The report is very long and very detailed and covers a wide range of topics. However, for us what matters above all else, what has been in our
constant thought all these years, is the innocence of out loved ones.

"Everything else fades into insignificance compared to the fact that those shot down on Bloody Sunday were ordinary, decent Derry people. That's the verdict we wanted. That's the verdict we have today. That will be the verdict of history for all time. That is what matters."

Afterwards, Denis Bradley, the former priest who was vice-chairman of the Northern Ireland policing board and who was on the march in 1972, welcomed the findings. "This report is an authentication off this city and the people who gave evidence," he said. "A British prime minister has had to criticise his own troops at a time when they are serving in
Afghanistan. This is an amazing report for the city. This report is very clear where the responsibility lies. I'm very satisfied with it."

5.16pm: David Cameron's statement in the Commons on the Saville report is worth reading in full. But, for those who don't have time, here are the key passages.

On facing up to the fact that army did wrong:

I never want to believe anything bad about our country. I never want to call into question the behaviour of our soldiers and our army, who I believe to be the finest in the world. And I have seen for myself the very difficult and dangerous circumstances in which we ask our soldiers to serve.

But the conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt. There is nothing equivocal. There are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.

On some of the most damning evidence in the report:

Lord Saville says that some of those killed or injured were clearly fleeing or going to the assistance of others who were dying. The report refers to one person who was shot while "crawling … away from the soldiers" ... Another was shot, in all probability, "when he was lying mortally wounded on the ground" ... and a father was "hit and injured by Army gunfire after he had gone to…tend his son".

On whether soldiers should be prosecuted:

For those people who were looking for the report to use terms like "murder" and "unlawful killing", I remind the house that these judgments are not matters for a Tribunal – or for us as politicians – to determine.

On the need for an apology:

I know some people wonder whether, nearly 40 years on from an event, a prime minister needs to issue an apology.

For someone of my generation, this is a period we feel we have learned about rather than lived through. But what happened should never, ever have happened. The families of those who died should not have had to live with the pain and hurt of that day – and a lifetime of loss.

Some members of our armed forces acted wrongly. The government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces. And for that, on behalf of the government – and indeed our country – I am deeply sorry.

5.19pm: Owen Paterson, the Northern Ireland secretary, has just been on BBC News. He was asked whether the government would support the prosecution of soldiers but, like Cameron in the Commons earlier, he sidestepped the question. He said the government believed in "the separation of powers" and that this was a matter for the prosecuting authorities.

5.33pm: General Sir Michael Jackson, the former head of the army (and a commander in Derry at the time of Bloody Sunday) has issued a response to the Saville report. Noting that Cameron had issued a "fulsome [sic] apology", Jackson said: "I join him in so doing."

I recognise that nearly 40 years ago the Northern Ireland situation was grim, with significant loss of life by all sides, not least by the army. Over the 38 years of the army's operational deployment in the province, the vast majority of the 25,000 soldiers who served there behaved admirably, often in the face of severe provocation, with the loss of several hundred lives and 6,000 wounded.

5.39pm: The public prosecution service in Northern Ireland has just issued a response to the Saville report.

The decision whether any individual will face prosecution arising out of the Saville Report is solely for the public prosecution service acting independently in accordance with the test for prosecution.

The director of public prosecutions, together with the chief constable, will consider the report to determine the nature and extent of any police enquiries and investigations which may be required to enable informed decisions as to prosecution to be taken. The undertaking given by the attorney general in 1999 to witnesses who provided evidence to the Inquiry will also require to be considered.

It is not practical, at this stage, to say when such decisions will be taken other than to indicate that the matter will be considered as expeditiously as possible.

6.15pm: Some commentators were very sceptical about the idea that the Bloody Sunday inquiry would promote reconciliation. Before today's report was published, there were claims that it could exacerbate divisions in Northern Ireland, because some relatives of those killed would not be satisifed with anything Saville had to say unless British soldiers ended up in the dock. Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's former chief of staff, said in his book on the peace process that setting up the inquiry had been a mistake. He said that both sides were unhappy with it and that "Sinn Fein were alredy pushing for the soldiers to be punished before the inquiry had started".

But - from what I have seen so far this afternoon - these fears appear to be unfounded. The relatives have reacted very warmly to the report and, although they have not given up their call for prosecutions, they are not demanding them aggressively. Perhaps the inquiry really will bring the community together after all.

6.19pm: This is what Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, said about the publication of the report.

I think it's a wonderful day for Ireland, and can also be a wonderful day for Britain, and for people everywhere who want truth and who want peace and who want justice.

6.25pm: And here is the statement that General Sir David Richards, the head of the army, has issued about the Saville report.

The report leaves me in no doubt that serious mistakes and failings by officers and soldiers on that terrible day led to the deaths of 13 civilians who did nothing that could have justified their shooting. The prime minister has apologised on behalf of the government of the United Kingdom, the army and those involved on the day, and I fully support that statement.

We must never forget the tragic events of Bloody Sunday. In the 38 years since that tragic day's events, lessons have been learned. The way the army is trained, the way it works and the way it operates have all changed significantly.

We should also remember that the overwhelming majority of the military personnel deployed over 38 years in Northern Ireland conducted themselves with utter professionalism, restraint and humanity. The cost was high, with 651 service personnel killed, and over 6,000 wounded. They played an important role in protecting the people of Northern Ireland, providing much-needed stability and thereby helping to set the conditions for the peace Northern Ireland enjoys today.

6.29pm: I missed the Lords statement on the Saville report, but Nick Robinson on his blog says more anger was expressed there than in the Commons.

Lord (Ken) Maginnis accused the Saville inquiry and the government of being "one-eyed" in its emphasis on just 13 of the 180 violent deaths in the province in the preceding year, saying that "The 13 deaths are regrettable, but no more regrettable than the other 167, the other 94% of the people who died that year."

Lord Morrow, a DUP member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, said there was a danger of creating "a hierarchy of victims" and warning that "the Saville report today has the potential to set Northern Ireland back 30 years rather than take it forward."

And the former Conservative armed forces minister, Lord (Archie) Hamilton of Epsom, said that since the time of Bloody Sunday, "I think people will find it very difficult to understand if that same threat of prosecution is not withdrawn from our troops for offences that, let's face it, may have been committed 40 years ago or the best part of it."

7.04pm: Here's an evening summary.

David Cameron has apologised on behalf of the British government for Bloody Sunday. In a statement to MPs about the findings of the Bloody Sunday inquiry, he said: "There is nothing equivocal. There are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong."

Lord Saville's report strongly criticised the conduct of solidiers involved in Bloody Sunday. It said there was "a serious and widespread loss of fire discipline" and that none of those killed was posing a serious threat. Some people were killed fleeing or going to the aid of others. The report also said that many of the soldiers involved had lied about what happened. But it did dismiss suggestions that soldiers set out with the deliberate intention of killing civilians.

Relatives of those killed have warmly welcomed the report. They were particulary pleased that Saville refuted the claims in the original Widgery report that some of those killed had been armed. Catherine Kelly, whose younger brother Michael died, said: "The wait has been almost 40 years. Today the truth has been told. I say to my little brother Michael, at last you can rest in peace forever."

The public prosecution service in Northern Ireland has announced that it will consider the case for charging some of the soldiers involved. Relatives of those killed would like to see the soldiers responsible put on trial. But they have not been aggressively demanding prosecutions today. Cameron and other ministers have refused to say whether or not prosecutions should go ahead, insisting that this is a matter for the PPS. At this stage it is impossible to know what the PPS will decide, although there must be some doubt as to whether they would be able to mount a case that would meet their criteria for prosecution. (The PPS will only prosecute if there is a reasonable chance of conviction and if a prosecution would be in the public interest.)

That's it for today. Thanks for the comments.


Paul Owen and Andrew Sparrow

The GuardianTramp

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