Division amongst those organisations responsible for a series of events commemorating the 43rd anniversary of Bloody Sunday appear to be continuing.
In recent days an argument about the contents of a commemorative stained glass window in the City’s Guildhall have emerged with some of the victim’s families maintaining what is proposed to be depicted is an attempt to gloss over some of the outcomes of the Saville Inquiry-mainly the continuing accusation that one victim, Gerald Donaghey, was carrying nail bombs on January 30, 1972.
Earlier today The Bloody Sunday Trust and the Pat Finucane Centre released a statement saying: “Next June will mark the 5th anniversary of the publication of the Bloody Sunday Report which completely exonerated those who had been murdered and injured on that day and which held British soldiers responsible for their deaths and injuries.
Since then a PSNI investigation into the events of Bloody Sunday was effectively halted by the Chief Constable. Another PSNI investigation has just been started. We welcome this investigation. We fully support the families and the injured, who have a right to a proper, speedy and effective police inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday and that those responsible for murder or attempted murder should be brought before the courts.
“We expect the PSNI to pursue this investigation vigorously, diligently and effectively. We believe that those members of the public who were present on Bloody Sunday and have evidence to give should fully co-operate with the PSNI inquiry. You will do so with the full support of the Bloody Sunday families and those organisations issuing this statement. We also expect others of interest to this investigation to give the same cooperation as the people of Derry, and call on the PSNI to ensure that they do.
“We are pleased that other groupings and organisations have organised their own events to commemorate this anniversary. However, in keeping with the expressed wishes of the vast majority of relatives of the deceased and those wounded, we do not support the march planned for the Sunday afternoon and do not intend to take part in it.
“The Bloody Sunday Trust will continue throughout 2015 and beyond in its objective of preserving the heritage of the Civil Rights, Internment and Bloody Sunday period through the planned expansion of the Museum of Free Derry, while the Pat Finucane Centre will provide effective leadership in exposing state-sponsored injustice and collusion for the benefit of many families throughout Ireland struggling to find truth and justice with regard to the deaths of their loved ones.”
However, in response, the organisers of this weekend’s rally, The Bloody Sunday March Committee have released a statement saying that a joint approach had been initially taken by all organisations involved but that agreement appears to have been breached.
The Bloody Sunday March Committee statement says: “Before Christmas the Bloody Sunday March Committee launched an initiative in pursuit of securing joint action with local parties and organisations in response to the halting of the PSNI investigation into the events of Bloody Sunday. Members of the committee met with Sinn Fein, the SDLP, the Bloody Sunday Trust and the Pat Finucane Centre. After these meetings it was agreed to prepare a joint statement which everyone could sign up to in relation to this crucial matter.
In the end there were fundamental differences in the way we wanted to address the issues, which could not be bridged. The Trust has decided to issue their statement today.
“Key to those differences is the linked references in their statement to “the 43rd anniversary of the Bloody Sunday massacre” and “the 5th anniversary of the publication of the Bloody Sunday Report.” There is an implication here that what happened in the Bogside in January 1972 and what happened in Guildhall Sq in June 2010 were events of equal magnitude. This is, of course, untrue. An atrocity and a report on an atrocity are not equally significant things.
“While this will be obvious to all of us in Derry, it might not be so obvious to others elsewhere. That formulation of words could be used by elements not well-disposed towards the truth about Bloody Sunday to downgrade the atrocious character of the paratroopers’ assault on the people of the Bogside. An implication could be drawn that what was done on Bloody Sunday had been balanced, so to speak, by the report by Lord Saville.
In the interests of openness we include our original statement in full. “Nearly five years have passed since the publication of the Bloody Sunday Report which completely exonerated those who had been murdered and injured on that day and which – although failing to reflect the responsibilities of senior military or political officials - held British soldiers responsible for their deaths and injuries.
“Since then a PSNI investigation into the events of Bloody Sunday was effectively halted by the Chief Constable. Another PSNI investigation has just been started.
“We welcome this resumed investigation. We fully support the families and the injured, who have a right to a proper, speedy and effective police inquiry and a right to expect that those responsible for murder or attempted murder should be brought before the courts.
“It is understandable after all this time that some will remain sceptical as to whether the investigation will lead to those responsible for the killings and woundings being charged. This will be the test of the investigation and indeed in the PSNI themselves. It should be pursued vigorously, diligently and effectively, following where the evidence leads, no matter how high in the military or political hierarchy this might reach.
“Assurances on this score would help rebuild confidence damaged by the chief constable’s action in halting inquiries.