Bloody Sunday remembered
Bloody Sunday remembered

The Bloody Sunday families have joined political leaders in calling for the immediate publication of the Saville report into the 1972 killings.

In driving sleet and freezing temperatures, one or the largest commemoration marches of recent years retraced the route of the original march.

Representatives of the families of each of the dead along with the wounded demanded that the Saville report be given to them at the same time as it is handed over to the British government.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was shot dead, said the thousands who marched this year inspired him with confidence.

“We’re going to win,” he said.

Mr Kelly expressed concern that the report could be further delayed into the term of a new British government.

He was also concerned that it could fall to a Conservative government to deal with the report.

A Tory government was in power at the time of Bloody Sunday,

“They say that patience is a virtue and we’ve shown great patience but our patience is now wearing ve y thin indeed.” Mr Kelly said.

“We’ve had delay after delay waiting for the report of the Bloody Sunday inquiry.

“For the past few years we’ve hoped that the report would be released only to have hopes dashed.”

A grandson of victim Michael Bradley, who died last year, said the battle for justice had fallen to a new generation.

“My grandfather died last year with one hand on the truth,” he said.

The annual march was addressed by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and SDLP leader Mark Durkan.

Mr Durkan said the Bloody Sunday families faced twists and tests that no-one who had been through what they had experienced should have to tolerate.

“They want the report published soon and they want the same and equal access to that report as anybody else has,” he said.

“They have more legitimate interest in that report than anybody else who might have prior access to it.

“There is a simple test of equality and justice and straightness here for the British government and the British establishment.”

Before Mr McGuinness addressed the rally, members of ‘dissident’ republican groups -- including Eirigi and the 32-County Sovereignty Movement -- walked away.

Mr McGuinness said Bloody Sunday had impacted on every nationalist family in Derry. “In HilIsborough Castle this week, I said to Gordon Brown, face to face, ‘set the truth tree’,” he said.

“The families must be given every advantage over everybody else. They must see the report at the same time as the British government.”

The following is an extract of his remarks:

“As a Derry man, as someone who was on the march that fateful day 38 years ago I want to acknowledge and commend the dignity, resilience and courageous determination of the Bloody Sunday families who had loved ones murdered or wounded on that terrible day.

“The dignified manner in which you have pursued the truth, to right the many wrongs that have been perpetrated against you has been an inspiration to all of us and especially others who also seek truth and justice. You have remained focused, determined and resolute despite the best efforts of the British political and military establishments to derail your campaign at every opportunity.

“When Tony Blair, the then British Prime Minister, announced a new inquiry under Lord Saville, peoples’ expectations were understandably raised in the hope that the end of the campaign was imminent. But few believed that we would be met with the level of obstruction and destruction of evidence that took place during the Inquiry by those who fear truth.

“Given that it is now over 12 years since the announcement of the Inquiry and almost 5 years since the inquiry concluded taking evidence - you the families have again displayed tremendous patience while awaiting the outcome.

“The families realise that Saville had a large volume of evidence to consider but let him be mindful of the theme of today’s march - ‘Set the Truth Free’. All of us and in particular the families of those killed or wounded, know that British paratroopers under the control of the British Government murdered 14 unarmed civil rights demonstrators and wounded and traumatized many others on their own streets in this city 38 years ago.

“It is time that Saville ‘Set the Truth Free’ so that the world will know that after its soldiers murdered your loved ones - our people - the British establishment then set about a campaign of lies and deceit in order to cover up its murderous actions. He must take all measures to ensure that his report is published without further delay. And the British government must take action to ensure that the impending Westminster election is not used as another excuse to further delay its publication.

“I fully support the families in their demand that they have sight of the Report at the same time as the British Secretary of State. And I have told the British Prime Minister that.

“While hopefully we are coming to the conclusion of the Bloody Sunday campaign for truth on the publication of the Saville Report, many others continue to search for truth about the circumstances of the deaths of their loved ones and they are entitled to it.

“So let us send out a message of solidarity to those campaigns such as that in Ballymurphy where 11 people were murdered in a 24-hour period also by British Paratroopers in August 1971 and the Families of the Forgotten in the 26 Counties. It is time to ‘Set the Truth Free’ on those massacres also.”

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