29 January 2009 Edition
Bloody Sunday Massacre: 30 January 1972
37 years on – Justice still denied
BY PEADAR WHELAN
AS the 37th anniversary occurs this week of the Bloody Sunday massacre on 30 January 1972, when British paratroopers shot dead 14 Civil Rights marchers in Derry City and wounded up to 14 others, the British Government has still to publish its latest report into the killings.
The Saville Inquiry, which began in 1998, was due to be published in the course of last year but Lord Saville announced a delay.
In November 2008, Saville revealed his findings would not be made public until the Autumn of 2009 at the earliest.
The announcement prompted campaigners in Derry to warn that confidence in the tribunal was being eroded and victims’ families were suffering further anguish.
Jean Hegarty, whose brother Kevin McElhinney was one of those killed, described the latest delay as “a huge disappointment”.
To mark this delay, this year’s Bloody Sunday commemoration march will go to William Street where it will halt at the point where the original march was stopped on its way to the Guildhall in 1972.
The Bloody Sunday families say this symbolic gesture is “to signify how the families’ search for justice is being denied by delays in the publication of the report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry”.
With the slaughter of over 1,300 Palestinians in the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza, the Bloody Sunday Weekend Committee is putting a lot of energy behind an urgent appeal to raise humanitarian aid in the form of medical supplies for Palestine.
In addition, the committee is preparing for the ‘Sea of Solidarity – Sea of Flags’ initiative which aims to prepare 1,000 Palestinian flags to be carried on the Bloody Sunday march as a mark of respect for those who have lost their lives in Gaza.
As Friday marks the 37th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday killings, a minute’s silence will be held at 4pm at the Bloody Sunday Monument in Rossville Street. This will be followed by the unveiling of the Bloody Sunday banner at the newly-refurbished Museum of Free Derry in nearby Glenfada Park.
Later on Friday, a panel discussion will debate the fall-out from the report by the Consultative Group on the Past (the Eames/Bradley Report) published on Wednesday 28 January.
As months of speculation come to an end, the Bloody Sunday Weekend offers an ideal and immediate opportunity to discuss the findings of the group. Before the discussion, Dr Patricia Lundy (UU) will give a 10-minute synopsis of the main proposals of the Consultative Group.
The panel will include Stephanie English from the Pat Finucane Centre; Brendan McAllister from the Victims Commission; Sandra Peake of the WAVE Trauma Centre, Belfast; Mike Ritchie, director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ); and Tom Roberts, director of the Ex-Prisoners Interpretative Centre, (EPIC), Shankill Road, Belfast.
The venue for the discussion is the City Hotel.
As the weekend unfolds, walking tours of the Bloody Sunday ‘Murder Zone’, visiting the spots where people were shot down, will take place.
On Saturday 31 January, other discussions dealing with the role the of the Derry Raytheon plant plays in the arms trade will take place in the Pilot’s Row Centre at 1pm.
This year’s Bloody Sunday Lecture will be delivered by human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, who represents some of the Guantánamo Bay detainees.
The original Bloody Sunday march was held to protest the policy of internment without trial. It is fitting that this year’s lecture should host the leading human rights defender acting on behalf of those held without trial in the modern-day equivalent of Long Kesh – Guantánamo Bay.
The venue for the lecture is the Calgach Centre in Butcher Street.
The annual wreath-laying ceremony and prayer service will be held at the Monument on Rossville Street on Sunday 1 February in advance of the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration march.
Marchers will assemble at the shops on Central Drive in Creggan before following the original march route to William Street for a rally to be addressed by a member of the Bloody Sunday families. Sitting MEP and member of Sinn Féin Bairbre de Brún will represent the party on the platform.
Meanwhile, the annual Bloody Sunday Weekend fund-raiser takes place in the Gasyard on Saturday 31 January. This gathering of singers and musicians who have raised their voices to support the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign over the years will attract a large crowd so people are urged to turn up early (admission £3).