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27 January 2005 Edition

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Derry people angry at Bloody Sunday inquiry arrest

After visiting Martin Doherty in Maghaberry Prison on Friday 21 January, Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness has written to British Prime Minister Tony Blair demanding the immediate release of the Derry man, who was sentenced to three months in prison for refusing to co-operate with the Bloody Sunday Tribunal

There was an angry reaction in Derry last week after the arrest of Doherty at his Creggan home on Wednesday 19 January and over 60 people gathered at the Guildhall Square in a hastily arranged protest.

Speaking at the gathering, Mickey McKinney whose brother was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, slammed the decision to imprison Doherty, pointing out that "not one British soldier had ever been sent to prison over the events of Bloody Sunday".

At the protest, Sinn Féin Assembly member Raymond McCartney called on Paul Murphy to intervene and release the Derry man.

McCartney said he believed Doherty was being scapegoated by a vindictive British judicial system. "Martin Doherty maintains he has nothing to offer the inquiry as he was not there on the day and now he is being imprisoned for not testifying about events he knows nothing about".

In his letter to Blair, McGuinness said that Doherty is, to date, the only person who has been imprisoned over Bloody Sunday and that many people in Derry see this as a huge injustice".

The Sinn Féin MP's demand for Doherty's immediate release has been echoed by the Bloody Sunday relatives, who are planning to highlight Doherty's case at next week's commemoration.

A spokesperson said that the families were solidly behind Doherty's wife Helen and would be calling for meetings with the 26-County Government, the SDLP and Sinn Féin. The spokesperson also called on Derry City Council to pass a motion in support of Doherty's release.


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