Para fans out to hurt families of Bloody Sunday victims

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Flags of the British Army regiment responsible for Bloody Sunday have been flown in loyalist areas of Derry ahead of the 50th anniversary of the massacre.

The flags feature the emblem of the Parachute regiment, or Paras, and have appeared in Drumahoe on the outskirts of the Waterside area, and the village of Newbuildings, as well as in the Fountain estate in the city centre.

Members of the regiment shot dead 14 peaceful civil rights demonstrators in Derry on January 30 1972, and injured another 15.

Most of the flags are attached to street lighting which the PSNI have refused to take down.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Ciara Ferguson said the erection of the Para flags was a deliberate attempt to cause hurt to the Bloody Sunday families ahead of the anniversary.

“I have stood with those families in recent days, they are steadfast, courageous and determined in their campaign for truth and justice for their loved ones,” she said.

“I am calling on all political parties and community leaders to condemn the erecting of these flags and to use their influence to have them removed immediately.”

Loyalists and British nationalists have been mounting displays of support for those who opened fire on the anti-internment protestors 50 years ago, none of whom have ever been prosecuted for the crime.

Amid a continuing British cover-up, the motivation for the massacre continues to be debated, with evidence increasingly pointing to a deliberate plan to shoot protestors in order to shut down nationalist resistance to British rule in the city.

The Parachute Regiment has again refused to issue an apology for the massacre, instead reiterating its support for the apology issued by former British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010.

In the Westminster parliament British Direct Ruler Brandon Lewis resisted pressure from SDLP leader Colum Eastwood to call on the Paras to apologise.

In a mealy-mouthed statement to the London parliament this week, Lewis said his “thoughts this weekend will be with all those affected”.

“When things are wrong, we need to be clear about that, as we have been. It is right that we have apologised for that,” he said.

There was also criticism from nationalists for DUP MP Sammy Wilson, who defended the Paras and heckled Mr Eastwood as he asked the question. Wilson could be heard shouting ‘shame’ and ‘they were protecting the people of Northern Ireland’ as Mr Eastwood was on his feet.

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