14 January 1999 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Bloody Sunday is about all our dead

By Yamila Petruschansky

``Widgery found the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent'', were Fr Edward Daly's (later to become Bishop Daly) remarks after the findings of the Widgery tribunal into the Bloody Sunday shootings in Derry in 1972.

The same question hangs in the air as the new inquiry headed by British law lord Lord Saville of Newdigate moves towards its first anniversary. To paraphrase Dr Daly's remark, ``will Lord Saville find the guilty guilty and exonerate the innocent?''

With the 27th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday approaching the relatives of those killed and wounded are still determined to fight for the truth to come out.

Fourteen civil rights protesters were killed and another 14 were injured when British paratroops opened fire on the 30 January march in 1972.

And while solicitors Madden & Finucane, who represent the families, are working for truth and justice the inquiry headed by Lord Saville seems to be dragging its heels.

Also a statement posted on the inquiry's internet site has angered the solicitors representing the families.

Lord Saville said that the families were ``not being well served'' by their legal team who he maintains do not accept the inquisitorial nature of the inquiry.

They are treating it as ``adversarial'', says Saville.

Saville was responding to a criticism the families' solicitors made in a submission of his Report No1 posted on 18 December, which was an interim report. This Submission was not a ``proper response'' and he added that the lawyers' actions were not ``consistent with the aim of seeking truth and justice''.

Saville's statement ``records the Tribunal's disappointment at their (the lawyers') apparent failure to accept the inquisitorial nature of the Inquiry and support the Inquiry's efforts to seek the truth with fairness, thoroughness and impartiality''.

The language, the tone and the method used by the head of the Tribunal does not seem an appropriate response given the importance and gravity of this issue, bearing in mind that Bloody Sunday is not simply about the actions of British soldiers on that day but is about the operation of the British state since then.

Effectively the British establishment has closed ranks to cover up what was a deliberate attempt to kill the demand for civil rights and equality.

Micky McKinney, whose the brother of one of the Bloody Sunday dead told An Phoblacht that even the families do not feel ``very happy'', at this stage of the process but added that the families would rather not make any other statements.

It seems that the families, having waited so long for justice, are focused on finding that justice and will not be sidetracked by Saville's own adversarial response.

And with the 27th anniversary looming the relatives of those killed and injured on Bloody Sunday will, with the support of thousands of their fellow citizens, give Lord Saville and the British government the clear message that it is justice and nothing less that we will get.

However Bloody Sunday has come to represent something deeper in the nationalist psyche; it has come to represent the determination of the families and friends of all those forgotten dead, killed by the British army, the RUC and by loyalists, whose lives have been treated with less value and respect than so many others who have died in this conflict.

This year Bloody Sunday needs to be about nationalists from as far afield as ever coming to Derry to support the demand for the truth about January 30 1972 to be told, but also it needs to about achieving equality for the hundreds of dead from this war that the British have cynically attempted to brush under the carpet.

They have tried in vain to deny equality and justice as citizens do not let them bury our dead behind a wall of silence. Remember all our dead on Bloody Sunday.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1