This year’s programme for the Bloody Sunday weekend will be broader-based and more varied than on any previous anniversary.
There will be no party-political speaker on the march platform on Sunday week. There will be an address from a representative of the family of Mark Duggan, whose death from police gunfire in Tottenham sparked riots across England in 2011 - as well as from a member of one of the Bloody Sunday families.
A mural expressing the anguish arising not just from Bloody Sunday but from state massacres generally will be unveiled in Glenfada Park at lunchtime tomorrow.
The image, by the artist Robert Ballagh, is based on Goya’s anti-war masterpiece, The Third of May, picturing the massacre of Madrid civilians by French soldiers in 1803. Bobby Ballagh will be on hand to speak of the history of the image and its continuing significance.
A new pamphlet (by myself), “Go On The Paras!”, will be launched this Friday, looking at the way the Bloody Sunday Report let the main guilty parties, the British Government and the army top brass, off the hook, and revealing how the Northern Ireland Office tried, and to a large extent succeeded, in spinning the report for its own purposes.
An exhibition will open at Pilots Row next Monday evening on the “Disappeared”, focusing on the 16 men and one woman abducted, murdered and secretly buried by Republicans between 1972 and 2003. A separate issue from Bloody Sunday in many ways - but not separate at all in the cruelty of the killings and the grief of those left behind.
This year’s lecture, in the Nerve Centre cinema on Friday week, will comprise an illustrated talk by Professor Philip Scraton on the cover-up of the Hillsborough outrage in which 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in 1989. Prof Scraton was main author of the report on the deaths published last year, which established beyond contradiction that the conspiracy to conceal the truth was authorised by, among others, senior officers of the South Yorkshire Police and a Tory MP.
On Saturday week, February 1st, Prof. Patricia Lundy will speak in Pilots Row about the Historical Enquiries Team in the aftermath of her own research findings and the report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.
She will be joined by Liam Wray, on the current state of the police investigation into Bloody Sunday; Raymond McCord on his campaign to bring the UVF killers of his son to justice; and Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six, talking both about the plot which put him and five other innocent men into prison - and also about the right of the families of the victims to the truth about the bombings.
On the same day at Pilots Row, a discussion on the key fights of the future will include socialist TD Clare Daly on how to defeat austerity cuts North and South, Dawn Burke of Not for $hale on fracking, Terence Conway of Shell To Sea on the struggle between the oil giant and the people of Rossport in Mayo, and Dessie Donnelly from the Participation and the Practice of Rights Project.
The calendar of events will climax with the traditional gig at Sandino’s. Under the banner “When This Lousy War Is Over” on Sunday night, Abby Oliviera, Connor Kelly, Paddy Nash, Conor O‘Kane (Technopeasant) and a wild selection of rambunctious others will sing the songs and sigh the poetry of disillusionment gebnerated by the First World War.
The gig is intended as the first in a series to run for the rest of this year - parallel with the “official” centenary events sentimentalising the slaughter.
“When This Lousy War Is Over (No more soldiering for me”) is as relevant today as it was when sung in the trenches.