The 35th anniversary of Bloody Sunday was marked with a rally attended by several thousand people in Derry on Sunday. The massive crowd, believed to have been significantly larger than last year’s, retraced the steps of the civil rights and anti-internment marchers of January 30 1972 from Creggan to the Bogside.
Thirteen male protesters, including seven teenagers, were shot dead by members of the 1st Battalion of the British Parachute Regiment that day. A 14th man died of his injuries later.
For the first time, none of the Sinn Fein leadership attended the annual rally as it clashed with the party’s special Ard Fheis on policing.
Relatives of the Bloody Sunday victims laid crosses and wreathes at the memorial plinth in Rossville Street, close to where most of the killings took place during an anti-internment march 35 years ago.
A representative of the Shell To Sea campaign also briefly addressed the crowd.
A report by Lord Saville into the Bloody Sunday killings is expected to be published early next year.
Addressing the crowd on behalf of the victims’ families, John Wray, whose brother Jim was one of the Bloody Sunday dead, said that 10 years would have passed between when the Saville inquiry into the killings was announced and when the inquiry’s findings would be published next year.
On Tuesday, around 100 people held a minute’s silence in the Bogside area to mark the exact moment that British paratroopers opened fire on Bloody Sunday.
At the ceremony at Rossville Street, civil rights activist Eamonn McCann paid tribute to the Bloody Sunday families for their campaign to uncover the truth.
He said as the families contemplated “that moment of horror and gunfire” when the shooting started 35 years ago, Bloody Sunday continued to ring out through the world.
When the truth comes out, the grief of families will remain but they will leave Bloody Sunday as an issue behind them, he said.
“That day is not here yet but we will be here until it comes,” Mr McCann said.
* A group of about 50 young locals clashed with the PSNI late on Sunday afternoon. Stones and bottles were thrown in the clashes on Boucher Street in reaction to what was decribed as PSNI ‘provocation’ by members of the INLA-linked Republican Socialist Youth Movement.
RSYM also accused Sinn Fein members of intervening to suppress the riot at the height, an act they described as “collaboration”.