A wound that isn’t healed

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The Irish President, Micheal D Higgins, Taoiseach Michael Martin, and former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn are among those set to take part in events this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

Politicians stood silently in the Dublin parliament on Tuesday in advance of the anniversary of the day when British paratoopers opened fire on civil rights protesters in Derry, killing 14 and injuring another 15.

Relatives of those who died and were injured are playing a leading role in the anniversary, which sees a large programme of events.

On Sunday, the Taoiseach is to lay a wreath at the Bloody Sunday memorial in the Bogside and is expected to meet privately with the families of those killed.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was among the victims, said the Taoiseach would be welcomed by the families and it “shows the depth of feeling that the Irish Government has for the families who have witnessed and endured the suffering of Bloody Sunday for five decades.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, is also due to attend a ceremony on Sunday morning alongside church leaders and politicians, including the Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, party vice president and the North’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, and the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.

President Michael D Higgins will deliver a virtual address at an event in Guildhall Square later on Sunday afternoon. On Saturday, the annual Bloody Sunday lecture will be delivered by former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

While in Derry, Mr Corbyn will also take part in a discussion with veteran civil rights campaigner Eamon McCann on Friday, January 28, which will be streamed online.

There will be a Family Walk of Remembrance on the morning of the 50th anniversary. Members of the public have been asked to line the route of the walk in a “responsible, socially distanced way”.

The Memorial Service and wreath laying ceremony will follow at the Bloody Sunday Monument at 11am on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, at 12.30pm, there will be a special event at the Lecky Road Monument opposite the Gasyard Centre to mark the 50th Anniversary of Fian Gerald Donaghey, organised by the Bogside and Brandywell Monument Committee.

Last weekend, events were held in Liverpool and Glasgow to mark the anniversary, while activists have been erecting posters in the 26 Counties to raise awareness of the campaign for justice.

And as part of a separate programme of events, the Bloody Sunday March Committee (BSMC) are inviting people who attended the 1972 march to a ‘We Were There!’ photograph 50 years on.

The photograph will be taken in Creggan this Sunday, ahead of the march for truth, justice and accountability in memory of those who lost their lives on that day in Derry 1972.

They will then “lead us in marching for truth, justice and accountability in memory of all those who lost their lives on our streets that day in peaceful defence of their fellow citizens democratic rights,” the march committee said.

Thousands are expected to take part in the 50th anniversary march, which will begin at Free Derry Corner, Sunday, 30th of January at 2.30pm. Afterwards Eamonn McCann and former republican MP Bernadette McAliskey will address those gathered at a rally at Free Derry Corner, with 26 County MEP Clare Daly also speaking.

Alannagh Doherty, a spokesperson for Lasair Dhearg in Derry, said she would be attending the march “to demand justice on the very streets where those innocents were brutally gunned down by foreign troops.”

“The Bloody Sunday Massacre was a horrifying event that would go on to shape the legacy of the conflict,” she said.

“There was no shortage of recruits for the IRA in the subsequent years in what became a defining period in the struggle for freedom.”

“This year’s march, five whole decades since our city mourned the loss of 14 members of our community, is about continuing that fight for justice and letting the British state know that this issue is not going away, as much as they would like it to.”

“The graphic scenes caught on news reels and cameras that day remain etched in the memories of those that were there and serve as a reminder to the rest of us of the ability and intent of the occupying regime when it comes to putting manners on the natives.”

“We know that the state knows who is responsible. We know that the state is fighting tooth and nail to prevent those responsible from being brought to justice. And we know the state and their security agencies are actively covering up and preventing that justice.”

“‘Sorry’ from the British government is not enough. Those brutally killed on Bloody Sunday and the thousands of others through countless generations who were maimed or murdered have never received justice.”

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