Bloody Sunday commemoration to focus on military top brass

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The 47th Bloody Sunday march has been launched with the focus returned to the issue to making those ultimately responsible for the slaughter of 13 innocent civilians accountable for their actions.

The Bloody Sunday March Committee gathered to launch the annual events in solidarity with the families of those killed by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment as they took part in a peaceful civil rights protest on January 30, 1972

Last year, the annual commemorations were accused of becoming hijacked to support a variety of unrelated issues by the socialist party People before Profit.

This year, with the start of the inquest into the related 1971 Ballymurphy massacre, the committee has returned to central issues of truth and justice. It said this year’s march will be used to demand that all those responsible for the 1972 killings be “brought to book,” according to organisers.

The committee said it believes the British establishment has been happy to pursue a course of action in which only the “footsoldiers” of the Parachute Regiment who fired the actual bullets were asked to account for the atrocity.

However, at least one of the soldiers involved has said the men were encouraged to ‘get some kills’ by officers ahead of the protest march.

In a statement issued in advance of the official launch of the 2019 commemorations, the committee said: “The British establishment wants all the blame laid on the shoulders of privates and corporals so that they can say that the Bloody Sunday massacre was a ‘rogue operation’. It was nothing of the sort. Men uniformed to represent the British State carried out the murders because they believed, and had good reason to believe, that murder was what was expected of them.”

Eight years ago, tribunal judge Mark Saville in his report on Bloody Sunday was unable to express a view on whether or not a “culture of impunity” existed among British soldiers in Ireland at the time.

The Bloody Sunday March Committee, however, believes such a ‘culture’ did exist, and blames the people at the top.

At the launch of this year’s Bloody Sunday commemoration on Tuesday, organiser Eamonn McCann said ‘we have come too far down the road to give up on truth and justice now’.

“No matter how they lie, we will march on through it until we get the truth about Bloody Sunday. We wont let it go, even if it takes another 46 years.”

Next month’s march takes place against the backdrop of the Public Prosecution Service’s (PPS) expected decision on whether or not the soldiers alleged to be responsible for the killings should be tried for murder. The PPS was to state its decision in the autumn but the announcement was delayed and is now expected in the coming weeks.

A relative of one of the victims, Kate Nash, said all those responsible for the 1972 killings should be “brought to book”.

Ms Nash -- whose brother, William was shot dead and father, Alex was shot and wounded -- said more senior figures involved in Bloody Sunday should also be held to account.

“The march will call for responsibility for the killings to be laid at the door not only of those who pulled the triggers but of those who ordered that the triggers be pulled,” she said.

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