Irish Republican News · January 21, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Bloody Sunday committee members quit

Three members of the ‘Bloody Sunday Weekend Committee’ are to step down from their roles after twenty years, citing “political differences” in how forthcoming commemorations are to be held.

In a letter published in the Derry Journal, on January 11 longstanding members Jim Keys, Stephen Gargan and Jim Collins announced their decision to step down amid controversy surrounding the tone of the forthcoming commemoration march. Many now feel locally that the commemoration should reflect the positive outcome of the Saville Report. However, the trio disagree, claiming that the British military seem to have “got off scot free.”

The letter reads: “While we all agreed that Lord Saville’s conclusions coupled with the British Prime Minister’s apology on June 15th represented a remarkable and unprecedented achievement for the families, the wounded, and the wider campaign, we three could not in all conscience support the characterisation of that day as a victory.”

The trio blame a “deepening divergence of positions” within the committee and said that recent news that this month’s Bloody Sunday commemoration march was to be the last reinforced their collective decision. “It’s with great regret that we made this decision,” Stephen Gargan told the Derry Journal.

“Some members of the committee feel that the Saville Report was a great triumph and they wanted to characterise the forthcoming commemorations in those terms. While we acknowledge the remarkable nature of June 15, we couldn’t sign up for the fact that Saville’s Report is deemed a victory. Especially considering the British military have got off scot free.”

Meanwhile, the programme for this year’s Bloody Sunday commemoration weekend to mark the 39th anniversary of the massacre has been released.

The weekend of events will include lectures, discussion groups, a quiz, the anniversary Mass, and will culminate with the annual Bloody Sunday march, retracing the route taken by civil rights protesters in 1972.

It will be the first Bloody Sunday commemoration weekend since the publication of the Saville report in June which formally declared that all those murdered by British paratroopers on January 30 1972 were innocent.

A range of speakers from political parties and human rights groups will join legal experts and relatives of those murdered on Bloody Sunday to take part in the events.

The series of commemorative events will begin on Thursday with the launch of the black ribbon campaign at the Museum of Free Derry at 12.30pm. The Bloody Sunday Memorial Shield Quiz will be held in the Crescent Bar, Beechwood Avenue, later that evening at 10pm.

On Friday night a panel discussion focusing on the campaign for justice for the victims of Bloody Sunday will be held in the Guildhall at 7.30pm. Speakers will include; Mitchel McLaughlin, Patricia Coyle, Paul O’Connor, Eamonn McCann, Don Mullan, and Conal McFeely, as well as Bloody Sunday relatives; Gearldine Doherty, John Kelly, and Gerry Duddy.

The discussion will be hosted by Tony Doherty, founder member of the Bloody Sunday initiative, and local commentator and ‘Journal’ columnist Paul McFadden.

On Saturday, campaigners from Ballymurphy will join Bloody Sunday relatives and members of Relatives for Justice at a discussion at the Gasyard Centre at 11.30am. This will be followed by Gerry Adams addressing the Ogra Shinn Fein national conference at the same venue.

Economic matters and public service cuts will be discussed at the Lecky Road venue at 2.30pm and speakers will include SDLP MLA Pol O Callaghan, Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty, economist, Michael Gallagher, and Roy Garland.

An Irish language panel discussion on the implications of the Saville report will be held in Culturlann Ui Chanain from 2-4pm, followed by a presentation from the Pat Finucane Centre on how weapons which went missing from security force bases were used in murders at 4.30pm.

The annual anniversary Mass will be held in St Mary’s Church, Creggan, at 6.30pm on Saturday. followed by a discussion on the Saville report chaired by Paul O’Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre.

On Sunday, wreaths will be laid at the Bloody Sunday monument on Rossville Street at 11am, followed by the last commemoration march from Creggan to the Bogside beginning at 2.30pm. Platform speakers will include Gerry Adams, Mark Durkan, Gerry Duddy, a Ballymurphy representative, before being brought to a close by renowned singer, Frances Black.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News