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28 January 1999 Edition

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Time for truth

On this, the twenty-seventh Anniversary of Bloody Sunday, campaigners and supporters are faced with a new set of challenges.

The past year has seen tremendous advances in the pursuit of truth and justice but the need for vigilance remains. It is vital that the deliberations of the Saville Inquiry are closely monitored to ensure there is no repeat of the Widgery whitewash. The Saville Inquiry can only contribute to the resolution of Bloody Sunday by uncovering the whole truth concerning the planning, execution and cover-up of the military operation of January 1972.

The path that the Bloody Sunday campaigners have trodden has been a difficult one. Shunned, ridiculed and criticised for many years, they remained committed to truth and justice.

It is never an easy task to challenge the might of a political establishment, and those who have sought to expose the wrong-doings of governments worldwide know only too well that the state can bring to bear enormous pressure, ranging from character assassination to physical assassination. State violence and state repression are the standard responses of most regimes faced with opposition.

In the Six Counties, over the past thirty years of conflict, almost four hundred men, women and children have been killed in highly controversial circumstances by the British Army and the RUC. Countless others have died as a result of collusion between loyalist death squads and the various branches of the British establishment.

These are the forgotten, the obliterated, the people whose deaths are considered of no importance. The families and friends of the Bloody Sunday dead have experienced the trauma of official neglect, disinformation and hostility, and, while they seek justice for their own loved ones, they are totally committed to the pursuit of justice for the other victims of state violence in this society.

As we move towards a long overdue examination of the causes of our conflict, it is essential that all sides, nationalist/republican, unionist/loyalist and British, acknowledge their roles as combatants. The search for lasting peace is not helped by attempts to absolve the forces of the state of any responsibility for violence. Such attempts can only sow the seeds of future discord and impede the necessary process of healing.

Only when all the victims are afforded equal acknowledgement can we hope to move forwards together. For all the victims of state violence, as for the victims of Bloody Sunday, the time has come to state the truth.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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