Miami Showband survivor Stephen Travers has told the annual Bloody Sunday march that the victims and their families have always inspired him to keep up his fight for justice.
Fourteen people were killed and 22 were wounded when members of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment opened fire on a peaceful protest against internment in Derry, on Sunday 30 January 1972.
Mr Travers was the speaker at the well-attended anniversary march and rally at the weekend. He suffered horrific bomb and gunshot injuries when the Miami Showband was attacked by a group, which included serving and former British soldiers, in July 1975.
He told the rally that the greatest strength of victims was their innocence.
“That’s what the people who perpetrated this terrible injustice are afraid off. They are not terrified of guns; they’re terrified of the truth; they’re terrified of the fact that the eyes of the world are on them today and they are being exposed for what they were,” he said.
He paid tribute to the Bloody Sunday families because of the inspiration they gave him when he felt like giving up.
“And I would look up here and I would see the people of Derry and I would say to myself, they had disappointment after disappointment and they are still standing and they’re still fighting for truth and for justice,” he said.
He said there would be those in attendance at the march that might not agree with his message, but he was “going to say it anyway”.
“I am completely and totally anti-violence,” he told the crowd. “Anybody who thinks that violence is going to solve any problems, or perceived problems, will not welcome these comments.
“Violence will put back the unification of Ireland another 50 years. That may be an inconvenient truth for some, but it’s still the truth.”
Also speaking at the march Kate Nash, whose teenage brother William was killed on Bloody Sunday, said it was important to keep the event going.
“We have been marching a long time,” she said. “It is important to keep going for the people who died that day, and for those who were shot and wounded. They deserve accountability. They were murdered.
“I will never give up the fight for justice. I couldn’t let my brother down like that. He’s not here to fight for himself. But I am and I will continue to do so.”
* Meanwhile, the British Army’s Ministry of Defence has lost an appeal against a £15,000 compensation awarded to the family of the last man killed by British soldiers on Bloody Sunday.
Bernard McGuigan, known as Barney, was a painter and decorator. He was shot as he went to the aid of 31-year-old Patrick Doherty, who was also murdered by the paratroopers.
The 41-year-old had been waving a handkerchief when he came under fire and was shot dead. Senior judges rejected claims that his relatives were not entitled to an aggravated damages award for suffering because he died “instantly”.