No healing for Bloody Sunday families

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By Seamus McKinney (for Irish News)

Bloody Sunday was the open sore that wouldn’t heal. The killing of 13 men and boys and the death later from his injuries of John Johnston poured petrol on the burning Troubles.

In 2010, Lord Saville of Newdigate ruled that all of the dead and wounded were shot without cause. On the same day, then British Prime Minister, David Cameron made an unprecedented apology to the Bloody Sunday families. He told a packed and hushed House of Commons that some of the soldiers present in Derry on Bloody Sunday acted wrongly.

“What happened on Bloody Sunday was unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong,” he said.

His words were relayed live on a huge screen to thousands of people in Guildhall Square. On that brightest of June days, they had just heard Lord Saville’s report exonerate the dead and wounded. With the Prime Minister’s words, it felt that a wrong had been righted.

For some of the families, it was logical that those responsible for the unjustified and unjustifiable killings should face justice. Without that, Mr Cameron’s words were just that, words. His apology meant nothing if their loved ones were not given the same basic right to justice that is the right of everyone.

The Public Prosecution Service concluded there was enough evidence to charge Soldier F with the murders of Jim Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Michael Quinn, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon and the late Patrick O’Donnell.

The families have had to fight every legal inch to bring the Soldier F case to court only for the possibility now of justice for their loved ones to be taken away.

Yesterday’s announcement by the PPS was met with shock in Derry. It cast a shadow over the city that contrasted with the bright skies of June 15, 2010 when it appeared – for an enticing moment – that the Bloody Sunday dead would be treated properly.

The open sore of Bloody Sunday has been picked open again and the words of David Cameron are being seen to be just that, words, nothing more.

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