Families remember victims on 50th anniversary-Bloody Sunday

Relatives of those who were killed on Bloody Sunday are remembering their loved ones on the 50th anniversary.

Thirteen people were shot dead when soldiers opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in Derry on 30 January 1972.

Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin laid a wreath at a memorial ceremony in Londonderry and said he supported the families’ campaign for justice.

The service is part of a series of events being held in Derry on Sunday.Mr Martin met relatives of those killed, privately.He said he had thanked the families for their “dignified, persistent and courageous” campaign in the pursuit of justice, truth and accountability.

“The families of victims should always have primacy in terms of policy considerations and in terms of dealing with the past,” he said.

“I don’t believe there should be amnesties for anybody, I believe the full process of the courts and justice should be deployed.”

Earlier, relatives of those killed retraced the steps of the original march.

They also laid photographs of their loved ones at the memorial in Derry’s Bogside.

Bloody Sunday brought worldwide attention to the escalating crisis in Northern Ireland, which came to be known as

Kay Duddy, whose 17-year-old brother Jackie was the first person to be shot on Bloody Sunday, said “it hurts as much 50 years on as it did at the time”.

“We did not just lose a wee brother, we lost a whole generation. There’s so many unanswered questions, would he have married? Would he have had a family?

“That is a very, very hard pill to swallow”.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, Foyle MP Colum Eastwood and Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry also attended the memorial service earlier.

A rainbow shines through on a dark day in Derry

At the memorial service, the names of those killed and injured were read out by Geraldine Doherty, the niece of Gerald Donaghey.

A rainbow was seen overhead as the crowds remembered those lost on 30 January 1972 – a symbol of hope.

Every name is applauded and cheered by the crowd.

Earlier, the families walked the same route their relatives had tried to walk 50 years ago. Hundreds joined them along the way.

A January day that started in peaceful protest, but ended in tragedy.

John Kelly, the brother of Michael Kelly, handed out a white rose to a child representing each of the Bloody Sunday families.

Each rose a life lost.

What happened on Bloody Sunday?

Thousands gathered in Derry on that January day for a rally organised by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.

They were protesting against a new law giving the authorities powers to imprison people without trial – internment.

The Stormont government had banned such protests, and deployed the Army.

The intended destination of the demonstrators was the city centre, but Army barricades blocked marchers, so many demonstrators headed towards Free Derry Corner in the Bogside.

After prolonged skirmishes between groups of youths and the Army, soldiers from the Parachute Regiment moved in to make arrests.

Just before 16:00 GMT, stones were thrown and soldiers responded with rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon.

At 16:07 GMT, paratroopers moved to arrest as many marchers as possible. At 16:10 GMT, soldiers began to open fire.

The years after Bloody Sunday

Two public inquiries have been carried out into the events of Bloody Sunday.

The Widgery Tribunal, which was announced shortly after Bloody Sunday, largely cleared the soldiers and British authorities of blame.

The Saville Inquiry, published in 2010, found none of the casualties was posing a threat or doing anything that would justify the shooting.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) began a murder investigation in 2010.

Detectives submitted their files to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) towards the end of 2016.

Prosecutors said in 2019 they would prosecute a soldier, known only as Soldier F, for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney on Bloody Sunday.

On 2 July 2021, it was announced Soldier F would not face trial following a decision by the PPS.

The decision not to proceed with the case is now the subject of live judicial review proceedings following a legal challenge brought by a brother of one of the Bloody Sunday victims.

 

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