Bloody Sunday: Rallying call for people to support ‘March for Justice’

Marchers on January 30th, 1972, the day that would become known as Bloody Sunday.
Marchers on January 30th, 1972, the day that would become known as Bloody Sunday.
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A rallying call for people to attend this year’s ‘March for Justice’ marking the 44th anniversary of Bloody Sunday has been made by the events chief steward.

Vincent Coyle told the ‘Journal’: “On this the 44th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday Massacre, I would like to take this opportunity to call on all those supportive of justice to attend this years annual March for Justice of which I am Chief Steward. The people of this island and my home city Derry have never been found wanting when injustice in any guise needs challenged.

“Forty-four years ago thousands of people including myself took the streets of Derry to send a clear message to those in Whitehall that inequality and injustice would not be tolerated. This clarion call was met with indiscriminate mass murder on the streets of Derry when the parachute regiment entered the Bogside and murdered civil rights protesters on the day that became known as Bloody Sunday. The wound inflicted on Derry on that day has never fully healed despite there being sticking plaster attempts. For many families the only remedy for what happened that day will be to see those responsible held to account for their actions.

“Decades on, and five years after the Bloody Sunday Inquiry the most progress made in terms of a legal challenge has been made by the suspects in the case. Suspects who through a High Court challenge in London have been allowed to the dictate the terms and conditions of their arrest and questioning on the basis of security. Prior to this the PSNI who have been investigating the Bloody Sunday Murders at a snails pace gave assurances to the suspects that they would not be arrested in advance of their challenge. This not only sets a dangerous precedent but raises the question as to where else in the world this would be allowed to happen.

“When dealing with the past the state cannot be allowed to shirk responsibility as unlike paramilitary groups we should be able to hold the state to account. Proposals to deal with the past outlined in the Stormont House Agreement clearly indicated that attempts were under way to sanitise the states role in the troubles via a national security veto. Had it not have been for the efforts of a small group of people from Derry and Belfast I believe this abhorrent legislation which has since been shelved would have been pushed through the back door of Westminster.

“For their efforts these campaigners, including myself, faced ridicule from so called campaigners, victims groups and politicians, many of whom have since been found back-pedalling. Their actions bring to mind the words that Thomas Kinsella used in the poem Butcher’s dozen penned about the Bloody Sunday Massacre: “The shame is theirs, in word and deed, who prate of justice, practice greed, and act in ignorant fury-then, officers and gentlemen”.

“I would call on everyone to attend this years March for Justice if only to send a further clarion call that inequality and injustice are still unacceptable.”

The programme of events which will run up to this year’s March for Justice marking the 44th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ has also been announced. The official launch of the programme has been organised for January 25 in the Eden Place Arts Centre at Pilots Row between 7.30-8.45pm and will coincide with the launch of the first event which is ‘Ardoyne - A Photographic Exhibition’ by photographer Joe Gilmartin. The exhibition explores aspects of life in the North Belfast area over recent years and “the experiences of its residents as they struggle against State control, repression and sectarianism”.

Beginning on January 27 at 4.30pm in An Culturlann Doire, there will be the launch of a book entitled ‘The British Media and Bloody Sunday.’ In a cross media analysis that spans a period of almost 40 years up to the publication of the Bloody Sunday Report in 2010, the work idenitifies two countervailing impulses in media coverage of Bloody Sunday and its legacy -an urge in the Press to rescue the image and reputation of the British Army versus a troubled conscience in TV current affairs and drama about what was done in Britain’s name. Written by Greg McLaughlin and Stephen Baker, the book has a foreword by Eamonn McCann.

On Saturday, January 30 at 12 noon in Pilots Row, a discussion panel with the heading ‘The Whole Truth’ will see three women exploring their experiences of their quest for justice from the state for the murders of their loved ones. This panel includes Kate Nash whose brother was shot dead on Bloody Sunday.

For a full list of the events please visit http://bloodysundaymarch.org.

The ‘March for Justice’ will take place on January 31 and those wishing to take part are asked to assemble at Creggan shops at 2.30pm.