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3 February 2000 Edition

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20,000 attend Bloody Sunday commemoration

Around 20,000 people marched in Derry on Sunday, 30 January, to commemorate the killings of 14 people at the hands of British Paratroopers 28 years ago.

In a deviation from its usual route to Free Derry Corner, the march went to Guildhall Square in the city centre. The original 1972 march was to have ended there but was diverted by the Stormont government to the area where the killings took place. Marchers, led by young relatives of those killed carrying white crosses, paused in silence at the spot where the original marchers were diverted.

Those who participated in the march heard Alana Burke, one of those wounded on Bloody Sunday, caution that the British government must not view the Saville Inquiry into the massacre as a PR exercise.

``I am angry still, even after all these years, about what was done to innocent defenceless people... out there is a sense of pride, a pride at what we, the victims as well as the whole city has achieved'' she said. ``A word of warning to the British government - we are not interested in a public relations exercise. We will not settle for a Widgery Mark Two. We know what happened but those of us who were there and survived owe it to the men who died to have the truth about Bloody Sunday proclaimed as loudly and prominently as the Widgery lies were spoken.''

Dr Robbie McVeigh of the Rosemary Nelson Campaign also addressed the marchers saying: ``This weekend, we must ask ourselves why do we still seek the truth. After all, everyone knows that what happened in this city 28 years ago was, as the coroner put it, sheer, unadulterated murder.

``The reason we seek a public acknowledgement by the British government about what happened, the reason it is important, is that the next time the people of the Garvaghy Road or of the Ormeau Road sit down, illegally maybe, but peacefully, unless there is a public acknowledgement by the government of the wrongdoing of 1972, there is every chance they will do it again.''

McVeigh added: ``If you allow lawyers to be threatened, you have no law and if you allow human rights lawyers to be murdered, you have no human rights.''

Sinn Fein's Bairbre de BrĂșn, the main speaker at the rally, said: ``We are all here to try and reach some form of common understanding of what some call the war, or the military occupation or what some simply refer to as the troubles.

``For us to move there must be understanding of all our pain. We have all suffered, but we all have a determination to move forward, but for 28 years we have had no acknowledgement of the premeditated attack on Bloody Sunday and still we hear that the responsibility for what happened on the 30 January 1972 lay with those who died.

``We ask that that fallacy be reversed once and for all.''

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