Free Derry museum sit-in protest suspended as talks organised

Helen Deery and Linda Nash during their protest in the Museum of Free Derry.
Helen Deery and Linda Nash during their protest in the Museum of Free Derry.

Two Derry women whose brothers were shot and killed by the British army have suspended a sit-in protest at the Museum of Free Derry.

Linda Nash and Helen Deery agreed to end their protest after securing assurances that a current installation is to be removed as an interim measure and will be re-displayed in its original format.

The exhibition at the centre of the controversy featured the names of details of army and RUC personnel killed in the area alongside that of civilians who were killed.

In a statement, the Museum of Free Derry said on Monday night: “The two women, Helen Deery and Linda Nash, have left the building.

“Following the intervention of a third party, the Bloody Sunday Trust put the following proposition to Helen and Linda which they have agreed to: ‘The Bloody Sunday Trust, in an attempt to resolve the impasse, and in response to the expressed concerns about the health and wellbeing of the protesters, is prepared to remove, in the interim, the current exhibit, and redisplay it more in keeping with its original format. In return we expect the two ladies to leave the museum.

‘The Bloody Sunday Trust agrees to engage in discussions to find an acceptable way forward.

‘Discussions will begin on Monday 11 September under an agreed facilitator.

‘The Trust also wishes to say that the consultation with relatives of victims who live in Derry has now been completed and these results will be published within the next few days’.”

In a statement co-signed by Helen Deery and Linda Nash and released on Monday, they said:

“Having submitted a number of proposals to the Bloody Sunday Trust earlier today (detailed below), which were broadly excepted by the Trust, we the two relatives involved with the sit in at the Museum of Free Derry decided to suspend our protest in order to facilitate a process of dialogue.

“For their part we also wish to acknowledge that the Bloody Sunday Trust, in the interim, agreed to remove the exhibit, which is at the centre of the controversy.

“We consider both gestures to have been made in good faith and in a spirit of creating positive conditions for dialogue.

“Consequently both parties have agreed to use the coming days to nominate a mediator with a view to starting into a process of dialogue from next Monday, September 11th.”

The relatives proposals were asl follows, the statement says:

1. Both parties agree to secure a mediator, on a fair an equitable basis.

2. The MOFD agree to suspend the exhibit, without prejudice for an agreed time bound period of four weeks to enable dialogue to take place.

3. The two protesting relatives agree to vacate the MOFA for an agreed time bound period of four weeks to enable dialogue to take place.

4. Both parties agree not to engage in any public exchanges on the issues involved and this includes the use of social media.

5. Prior to commencement of mediated dialogue and based on securing agreement to the above proposals both parties release an agreed public statement.