Derry marches pass off peacefully

The Bloody Sunday parade on route to Free Derry Corner.  (2901JB81)
The Bloody Sunday parade on route to Free Derry Corner. (2901JB81)

Nationalist and loyalist marches in Derry have passed off peacefully today.

Around two thousand people took part in a march this afternoon to mark the 41st anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

It followed the route of the 1972 anti-internment march which ended with 14 marchers being shot dead by the British army’s Parachute regiment.

The march was led by relatives of some of those murdered on Bloody Sunday, as well as relatives of other victims of state violence.

A large number of the Bloody Sunday relatives are not in favour of the continuation of the annual march in the wake of the Saville Inquiry Report and have an alternative programme of events to commemorate the massacre.

A number of dissident republican groups from across Ireland were also represented at Sunday’s march.

Veteran civil rights campaigner Bernadette McAlliskey was the main speaker at the rally which followed the march.

Speaking at Free Derry Corner, Ms McAliskey paid tribute to the march organisers.

“It is important to remember to challenge the cover-up, even though some people from time to time begin to tire or begin to collaborate with the state and believe that it should be swept away and a new start made,” she said.

Ms McAliskey also called for the release of prisoners Marian Price and Martin Corey.

“We came on the streets to end internment without trial yet here we are 41 years later in a new administration, a new dispensation, new power structures, and new civic collaborators and we still have internment without trial with people in prison on the whim and diktat of the Northern Ireland Secretary of State,” she said.

Meanwhile around the same time in the Waterside, hundreds of Union flag protesters held what was billed as a march for “loyalist civil rights”. Among those in attendance at the rally was victims campaigner Willie Frazer.

The march organisers had originally indicated they wished to parade into Ebrington Square which leads onto the city’s Peace Bridge. However, they had a change of heart before the weekend and changed the route. The Parades Commission directed that the participants were not to carry flags or emblems “which may be seen as provocative”. This followed fears that flags bearing the insignia of the Parachute regiment may be carried on the march as a number have been flown on approach roads to the city.

It is understood that extra police resources were drafted into the city ahead of the parades, but the PSNI maintained a lower than expected profile.

(See our website and Tuesday’s Derry Journal for further coverage)