People Before Profit representatives have defended the decision to take part in the Bloody Sunday March at the weekend despite several groups withdrawing from it.
Among the groups who announced they would not be taking part this year were the IRSP and Saoradh.
Saoradh and the IRSP had claimed that the Bloody Sunday March Committee was refusing membership to individual family members. The IRSP also hit out at what they alleged was political influence from the Socialist Workers’ Party and PBP.
The March last Sunday was among a raft of events that have taken place over the past fortnight to mark the 46 anniversary of the killings.
A PBP spokesperson said: “46 years later and the British Government are still playing an obstructionist role in the struggle for truth and justice. And Bloody Sunday is not an isolated case, as evidenced by the Tory pursuit of blanket impunity for British soldiers involved in the conflict, or their refusal to come clean around the Ballymurphy massacre. This is why we keep marching.
“We keep marching, too, because the basic issues of state repression have not gone away either. Tony Taylor and others remain locked up in a similar system of internment without trial that people marched against 46 years ago.”
The spokesman also said the marchers were taking a stand against the abuse of Stop and Search laws and issues of injustice across the world.
He added: “The Bloody Sunday March has always been a key date in the calendar for the movement for civil rights and justice, and against state repression. And for this reason the march has always come under attack by those who would like to see it go away. There is a long history of this. For many years, for example, the Bloody Sunday march was attacked for being a ‘Provo front’. This was because of the participation of key Sinn Fein figures. Socialists might have had disagreements with SF, but we never allowed it to stop us participating in the march. After SF abandoned the annual march, those who continued to demonstrate were labelled ‘dissidents’ and ‘wreckers’,” he claimed.
He branded IRSP and Saoradh criticism of the Bloody Sunday march as “shameful”. “These parties have now decided to follow the example of Sinn Féin and boycotted the march this year— claiming that the committee has come under the ‘coercive influence’ of Eamonn McCann, People Before Profit and the SWP.
“This is insulting to the diverse organising committee and its tireless work in campaigning for justice”, the spokesman said, adding:
“That Eamonn McCann is a member of PBP is no secret. However, he is not part of the Bloody Sunday March Committee because he is a member of PBP. Eamonn was an organiser of the march in 1972 and, as many will know, has been a relentless campaigner for the victims on Bloody Sunday since the massacre occurred.
“We did not abandon the march when it came under attack in the past, and we encouraged others not to abandon it now.”