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16 October 1997 Edition

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Bloody Sunday: ominous silence from Blair

Tony Blair refused to comment on Bloody Sunday when pressed by reporters during his first visit to Derry on Monday. Relatives of those killed described this as ``ominous'' especially as it takes place during a flurry of media speculation that the British Government are considering offering only an apology and a new Widgery-type enquiry.

Relatives have made it clear that they are not and never have been campaigning for an apology, and that nothing less than an independent international inquiry into the murder nearly 26 years ago will be acceptable. Meanwhile, Tuesday's meeting between the Bloody Sunday relatives and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the leaders of all the Leinster House parties shed no new light on Britain's intended response to a dossier of new evidence put to them last year by the Dublin government.

Tony Doherty of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign, said ``It is ominous, to say the least, that Tony Blair didn't feel on his first visit to Derry as Prime Minister that it was appropriate for him to comment on the issue, particularly when it has been in the news in recent days. Blair's reticence is in stark contrast to the apparent willingness of Secretary of State Mo Mowlam to openly speak about the issue during her last visit to the city.'' Mowlam has stated that Bloody Sunday was an open sore and must be resolved as part of the peace process. ``It appears that the British government are happy to follow the apology option,'' said Doherty. ``We have never campaigned for an apology, nor never will. How can you apologise for murder? We are campaigning for justice.''

Martin McGuinness revealed that he raised the issue of Bloody Sunday when he met Blair on Monday
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