20 February 2003 Edition

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Derry Young People's Forum

In what was a first for the Bloody Sunday weekend, a well attended Young People's Forum was hosted by Tar Abhaile and Coiste na n-Iarchimí in Derry's Gasyard centre on Saturday 1 February. The daylong event was designed to provide a platform for young people to discuss issues and events relevant to them.

The theme for the event was Turning Points.

Martin McGuinness, opening the forum, praised the young people for turning out in such numbers. The morning session began with an introduction to Sunday by Stephen Gargan, one of the film's producers. A panel consisting of Tony Doherty, whose father Patrick was among those killed; Karen McGuigan, whose grandfather Barney was also among those killed; and former hunger striker Raymond McCartney, spoke of the impact Bloody Sunday had on them.

Tony spoke of his role in the Justice Campaign, which ultimately forced the British government to set up the Saville Inquiry. Karen, who was born nearly ten years after her grandfather died, spoke of how she grew up with stories about him, eventually finding out he had been killed on Bloody Sunday.

She spoke about her work with the families in relation to post-traumatic stress, which is part of her doctoral thesis at the University of Ulster.

Raymond spoke how as a 17-year-old, Bloody Sunday made his mind up to join the IRA, because in 1972 for him and many others, it was either that or do nothing, there were no alternatives.

A lively discussion followed, ably chaired by Elisha McLaughlin, a member of Derry Youth Shadow Council.

The afternoon session featured a showing of the film H3, introduced by its co-writer, Laurence McKeown, who spent 70 days on hunger strike. He said he had set out to tell everybody's story but the limitation of filming meant that the story was told through the lives of men in one wing in H Block 3.

Among those who sat to watch the film were Jim Gibney, Tom Hartley and Seanna Walsh, three men much identified with the hunger strike period.

Laurence McKeown, Martina Anderson and Charles Lamberton spoke of the impact the H Block/Armagh campaign had on them.

An Phoblacht
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