Keep the march as it is

Sir,

Bloody Sunday in Derry was a massacre carried out with gusto by British paratroopers acting under direct orders from their government in London. That government was prepared and flashed news through their embassies around the globe that their ‘boys’ had come under fire from mad Irishmen intent on murder and they had reluctantly fired back.

Widgery was then tasked with taking the bad look off them by pretending to conduct an ‘independent’ inquiry. He succeeded in blackening the names of the dead, but he failed spectacularly to convince us or world opinion that Britain was anything more than a murderous occupying power.

Saville was also a ‘British’ inquiry set up for reasons to do with political expediency. It too covered up, let the perpetrators off the hook, and let the British government and its soldiers go scot free while accepting ‘planted evidence’ that Gerard Donaghy had nail bombs in his pockets.

I was a marcher on Bloody Sunday, like thousands of others on that horrific day. I knew I was breaking Britain’s law by being there on the streets of my own city. I was a naive 23 year old who stupidly imagined that we could achieve civil rights, freedom for internees and freedom of our country from British rule by marching. Since that day I went on all the marches reluctantly, with no particular goal, out of loyalty to the families of the dead at first. But I eventually found solace in being there each year, protest is healthy, apathy is soul destroying. We were keeping in memory our dead, and why they were slain.

I refused to even consider giving evidence to Saville. To me it was simply another British attempt to make them seem civilised. I have always believed that it would have been possible to convene an independent international inquiry in Derry. Britain is incapable of investigating or righting the crimes it has committed in Ireland or in any of the countries it seized by force throughout its inglorious years of colonialism.

Saville blackened Gerard Donaghy’s name just as surely as Widgery did all those years before. Can we hold a ‘victory’ march now, knowing that; what about that youngsters memory? I could have ended up like Gerard if I hadn’t ran away like hell when the bullets started crackling all around us. He wasn’t able to. Whenever I attend each march, I don’t go there in the hope that I can persuade Britain to give us justice. That’s an impossibility. I go there to protest, to tell and remind the world of one of Britain’s crimes. Otherwise they will eventually sanitise their role on Bloody Sunday.

Some people, and those in Sinn Fein in particular, want us to forget. Move on, they say, it’s all in the past. They use words like ‘closure’. There will never be closure. Their agenda does not allow for protest of any kind. They are in place in Stormont, beholden to Britain. Don’t rock their boat!

It’s a long time since I’ve put pen to paper, but let me inform them that it is my opinion that the people of this city and further afield will never forget what happened on Bloody Sunday, their descendants will never stop protesting against the murderers of their loved ones and they will never forgive Britain. Keep the march as it is!

Yours sincerely,

Hugh Gallagher,

Creggan Estate,

Derry.