Higgins would ‘welcome’ chance to meet Bloody Sunday families

Some campaigners expressed disappointment that President did not attend Derry event

A spokesman said that Mr Higgins had “no difficulty” in attending the Derry event but the President was speaking in person at the National Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration in Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times.

President Michael D Higgins would “welcome an opportunity” to meet the Bloody Sunday families “at a future point in time”, Áras an Uachtaráin has said, after some campaigners expressed disappointment at his failure to attend the commemoration events in Derry on Sunday.

In a recorded message to the commemoration, the President paid tribute to the families for their “long campaign to vindicate the memories of their loved ones”.

But some relatives expressed disappointment that the President had not attended the events in Derry.

A spokesman said that Mr Higgins had “no difficulty” in attending the event but “some logistical issues emerged”.


The President was also attending the National Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration at the Mansion House in Dublin, where he was also speaking.

“Just as the families of those lost that day have done throughout their long years of campaigning, the President remembers too all of the families who lost loved ones to violence during the Troubles,” a statement from the Áras said.

“The President would of course welcome an opportunity to meet the families of those who lost their lives in Derry at a future point in time.”

Maeve McLaughlin, the director of the Bloody Sunday Trust – which organised the Beyond the Silence event on Sunday which included the President’s address – said the decision over how the President would deliver his address had been made when more stringent Covid-19 regulations in force.

She said what was “significant” was that the President had agreed to deliver the address to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, and described it as an “important acknowledgement”, especially in the context of the recent controversy around his attendance at the Armagh church service.

“Obviously we would have loved to have had him here in person but that offer is always open,” Ms McLaughlin said.

The Sunday Times quoted two family members expressing disappointment that Mr Higgins would not be in Derry for the anniversary.

None of the relatives spoken to by The Irish Times in Derry on Sunday raised a concern over the manner in which the President delivered his address.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times