One of Derry’s most prominent Bloody Sunday campaigners has appealed to those planning a march in January to reconsider holding it on the 40th anniversary weekend.
John Kelly, brother of 17-year-old Michael Kelly, reiterated the wider families’ decision on discontinuing annual commemoration marches in light of last year’s Saville Report and the exoneration of all those murdered and wounded in the 1972 massacre.
“The families have decided to end the march and that decision should be respected,” he told the ‘SUNDAY’. “It was a difficult decision to end the march after all these years and the vast majority are not in support of this and will not be marching on the 40th anniversary.”
Mr Kelly said that the families of those killed and wounded were invited to a recent meeting on the proposed march, organised by the Civil Rights Veteran’s Association - but that the majority had declined the invitation. “As far as the families are concerned, the issue is closed,” he said.
“Some people say that it was a political decision to end the march - that is simply not true - the families made this decision and no-one else. After the victory we achieved with the Saville Report, it was the right thing to do. The organisers are, in fact, insulting the families by continuing to insist on this march. It was always about supporting the Bloody Sunday families, but this march will not be.”
Mr Kelly said that if organisers altered the proposed date of the march, he and other members of his family would consider attending.
“Any march that goes ahead will not be family-led; therefore it will not actually be ‘the Bloody Sunday march’. Change the date and we will march with you then.”
“A lot of the families are annoyed and angry at the stance this organisation is taking,” he added.
“They are determined to continue against the wishes of the wider families. We will still commemorate our loved ones and Bloody Sunday - we always will - but we will not march again.”