The 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday massacre takes place later this month. The city of Derry is hosting two programmes of events to commemorate the 14 who were killed by British soldiers and address the continuing refusal of the British authorities to offer truth and justice for the victims. The following is the context for this year’s Bloody Sunday March.
The “Troubles” have taken more than 3,500 lives over the past 50 years. Every death has diminished us all.
The grief of the Bloody Sunday families is no different from the heartbreak inflicted on the families of other victims.
To demand clear sight of the truth about Bloody Sunday is not to ignore the fog of lies obscuring other crimes against our common humanity.
The truth of what happened in Derry illuminates the role of the State in a myriad of murders.
Violence didn’t erupt here because people here have a propensity for violence. Looming in the background at all stages has been the British State.
Representatives of the State, and many now in partnership with the State, insist that the Bloody Sunday issue has been sorted, that there’s nothing left hidden that we are entitled to know.
But the force which met the demand for civil rights with a blizzard of bullets cannot now act as arbiter.
The powers-that-be don’t want the cover-up of Bloody Sunday brought to light - because the truth about Bloody Sunday brings the blame back to where it belongs.
The State has no right to determine how far the search for truth should go.
No-one has a right to say - “Thus far and no further.”
The current Conservative Government under Boris Johnson wants to draw a line under the past and its proposal to introduce a statute of limitations on all conflict related deaths here is nothing but a thinly disguised amnesty for the actions of its military.
Should Johnson’s Conservatives succeed in pushing these proposals through, every single family who has lost a loved one as a result of the conflict will effectively have no legal route or redress left open to them in their pursuit of truth and justice on behalf of their loved one.
So on Sunday 30th January 2022, when we mark 50 years since the massacre of 14 of our fellow citizens, we are asking you to join with us in Derry in protest at what they are trying to do. As to the deeper and more challenging question of where we go to from there?
This programme of events, together with others we will shape in the months ahead in this 50th anniversary year, may open up possibilities. What is clear is that the 3500 lives taken from us and the many thousands of families of all the dead and injured from across these islands, demand nothing less.
* The highlight of the week is the Bloody Sunday march and rally, at 2.30pm on Sunday, under the title ‘There Is No British Justice’. The speakers at this year’s 50th anniversary rally will be Bernadette McAliskey & Eamonn McCann, with guest speaker Clare Daly MEP for Dublin.
More details of events organised by the Bloody Sunday March committee are available online at https://bloodysundaymarch.org
* Other events are also being organised by the Bloody Sunday Trust, including the annual Bloody Sunday Lecture, with guest speaker Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the British Labour Party, and the delivery of a recorded message from Irish President Michael D Higgins. For those events, please see https://bloodysunday50.com