Derry march marks 44th anniversary of Bloody Sunday
Activist says objective of annual rally is about getting truth ‘in the face of murder by state’
The annual Bloody Sunday commemoration in Derry. Photograph: Justin Kernoghan
Thousands of people marched in Derry yesterday as the 44th anniversary of Bloody Sunday was marked.
Thirteen people were shot dead by members of the Parachute Regiment during a civil rights march in Derry’s Bogside on January 30th, 1972. A 14th victim of the shootings died in hospital four months later.
A British-government-commissioned inquiry, undertaken by Lord Saville, found none of the victims were posing a threat to soldiers when they were shot.
Following publication of the report, British prime minister David Cameron apologised for the army’s actions, branding them “unjustified and unjustifiable”.
The march made its way through the Creggan, Brandywell and Bogside areas for a rally at Free Derry Corner at which the main speaker was prominent civil and human rights campaigner, Eamon McCann.
“The Bloody Sunday campaign will be here for many years to come to stand, not just for the cause of justice and peace in relation to Bloody Sunday, but to see that is emblematic of campaigns of all over the world for truth in the face of murder by the State,” he said.
Among those in attendance at the wreath-laying ceremony were the Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown, the Reverend David Latimer from First Derry Presbyterian Church and Fr Michael Canny.
Kate Nash, whose brother William was one of those shot dead, told the march that campaigners have not given up on getting justice.
Relatives of the dead have received letters from the Police Service of Northern Ireland informing them that seven of the paratroopers involved in the shootings will be interviewed by detectives next month.
Meanwhile, a conference on the legacy of the Troubles yesterday heard that lessons must be learned from Northern Ireland as Britain deals with terrorism by Islamist extremists.
The British government has to be careful not to “crack down” on whole communities as it fights off threats from Islamic State, said Jane Winter, former director of British Irish Rights Watch.
She said mistakes made in Northern Ireland are being repeated, and warned of the consequences “if we abandon that principle of expecting governments to behave well”.
Ms Winter addressed an event in London on the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland, which was attended by Troubles victims, commentators, politicians and former President of Ireland Mary McAleese.
“Bloody Sunday was the best recruiting sergeant for the IRA in years. And that’s the case whenever we crack down unfairly and wrongly on, particularly, whole communities, which has been a failing I think throughout the Northern Ireland conflict and we’re repeating that mistake now in relation to Muslim communities.”
Ms Winter said the idea that terrorism is not mindless is a difficult one for people to fathom, but she said people and governments need to look at the reasons terrorists do what they do, even though “consequences may be unspeakable” and “completely morally indefensible”.
She said: “Nobody likes a terrorist. As a Londoner I resented being bombed by the IRA, and these days by people known as Islamists. But I have had to think about why that’s been going on.”