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19 May 1997 Edition

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Bloody Sunday relatives meet Robinson

The first meeting between Mary Robinson and relatives of the Bloody Sunday dead took place in Aras an Uachtaran on Wednesday 28 May. Author Don Mullan accompanied the delegation and presented Robinson with a copy of his book Eyewitness Bloody Sunday which detailed the tragic events of January 30 1972. Before the meeting Bloody Sunday Justice Group vice-chairman Michael McKinney said he hoped the meeting will assist the campaign for a new inquiry.

This is a reversal of previous policy whereby Robinson refused to meet the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign, a policy which angered nationalists who saw her refusal as dismissing nationalist suffering.

Mullan's book is a vital collection of previously ignored and new material about that day which is part of the Irish government's upcoming dossier on Bloody Sunday, and which the campaign has ensured has finally rubbished the British Widgery Tribunal.

It is a compilation of crucial evidence which provides the basis for a new, independent investigation into the deaths.

In a separate development, Sinn Fein National Chair Mitchel McLaughlin has offered to sponsor a Bloody Sunday relatives visit to Westminster, using Sinn Féin councillors' allowances if Derry council fails to finance their proposed visit. Tony Doherty of the Bloody Sunday Trust described the offer as ``positive action'' on the issue.

The trip aims to maintain pressure for a new inquiry, and Derry council had voted to pay for relatives accompanying the official delegates, but this offer was withdrawn last week. McLaughlin said this was an issue which the new Sinn Féin council team will raise as an urgent issue.

Meanwhile the news that the son of the British Army commander decorated for his role in the Derry massacre is to be posted to the Six Counties has been condemned by Tony Doherty, who said ``It's a disgrace that this regiment continues to serve anywhere in the North.'' Para Major Jamie Wilford's posting is seen as particularly insensitive and stupid, given the international effort to re-examine the massacre perpetrated by the Parachute regiment.

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