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20 February 1997 Edition

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Mayhew insult to Bloody Sunday relatives

By Mick Naughton

Nine years ago the then British Attorney General, Patrick Mayhew announced that RUC personnel involved in covering up shoot-to-kill operations in1982 would not prosecuted ``in the interests of national security''.

Last Saturday 15 February Mayhew refused, on behalf of his government, to apologise for Bloody Sunday because ``an apology is for criminal wrongdoing and there is nothing in the Widgery Report to support that''. In other words, the Widgery Report is true.

Only the previous day relatives of the Bloody Sunday dead had met Mayhew in Stormont Castle where he promised to consider any new evidence into the incident.

Mayhew's refusal to apologise, using the language he used, was described by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, who had been on the fateful 1972 march, as ``a calculated insult,'' and ``displaying racist thinking when talking about justice.''

John Kelly, chair of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign and brother of one of the victims, said, ``he [Mayhew] told us he would thoughtfully review the new evidence we presented to him, that he would take advice and let us know concerning our demand for a new inquiry. 24 hours later he compounded the hurt we have suffered by upholding the internationally discredited Widgery Report and by suggesting an apology would be unjust to those who murdered our loved ones.''

Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern described Mayhew's comments as ``a disgrace.''

John Bruton said in Leinster House on Tuesday afternoon that he had instructed the services of the state to assemble all the evidence from all sources, both internal and external.

Meanwhile a judicial review of the Widgery ruling begins at Belfast's High Court next Wednesday.
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