Controversy over Guildhall’s new Bloody Sunday Inquiry exhibit

The pristine exterior of the Guildhall which officially reopened on Thursday. (3105PG106)
The pristine exterior of the Guildhall which officially reopened on Thursday. (3105PG106)

Some of the Bloody Sunday families have criticised aspects of a new video installation intended to mark the Saville Inquiry in the Guildhall.

The ‘Journal’ was initially contacted by Mickey McKinney, whose brother William was among those murdered in the Bogside on January 30, 1972.

Mr McKinney spoke of his unease that footage showing General Michael Jackson’s response to the Saville Report was included in the installation at the Guildhall which opened to the public last week after major renovation.

In a clip from a TV interview in 2010, General Jackson said the vast majority of soldiers “behaved admirably often in the face of severe provocation”. Mr McKinney hit out strongly at General Jackson’s role on the date of the atrocity and the British Army “cover-up” which followed.

Mr McKinney said the writing of the ‘shot-list’ at 6.30pm that evening, was “the battering ram that they used to beat us with for 40 years afterwards - is it really suitable for him (General Jackson) to be included in the Guildhall?”

Other distressed relatives and survivors have since added their voice to the debate.

A statement from nine further people, Kate Nash, Linda Nash, Liam Wray, Joe Friel, Damien Donaghy, Micheal Bridge, Jackie O’Reilly, Mona Bradley and Tony Deery, echoed Mr McKinney’s sentiments.

“We have been angered, distressed and insulted to find that the installation just unveiled at the Guildhall includes a contribution from General Michael Jackson.”

The group said the so-called ‘shot-list’ was sent out around the world within hours of the massacre “to libel the dead and wounded and exonerate the killers of the Parachute Regiment.”

“We want the reference to Jackson removed without delay,” they added.

The group also expressed further concerns at the references to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry as ‘The Saville Inquiry’, which, they claim, shifts the focus away from the massacre in Rossville Street to the Inquiry itself, and at the exclusion of Gerald Donaghey’s continuing case. “No mention is made of the shadow left by The Bloody Sunday Inquiry on the memory of Gerard Donaghey... The Guildhall must acknowledge the fact that the search for the ‘full’ truth of Bloody Sunday continues,” the statement read.

A spokesperson for Derry City Council saidt the purpose of the interpretative area is to highlight the historical use of the building for the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. “It is not presented as a chronology or insight into Bloody Sunday and there is no intention to offend any of the families involved,” the spokesperson added.