The ceremony was held after the Families’ Walk of Remembrance in memory of the 14 men who were killed on Bloody Sunday, the people who were injured as well as relatives who have died over the past 50 years.
A rainbow appeared as children laid white roses for their bereaved family members and the huge crowd of mourners fell silent to hear the words of religious leaders and families themselves.
Mickey McKinney, whose brother William McKinney was killed on Bloody Sunday, read a statement on behalf of the families, “We have travelled a long road from the horror of that day. From the shocked silence in our homes, on our streets, to the lies of the British Army and British Government told around the world, to standing up to challenge the state by demanding truth and justice.
“In 1992, the Bloody Sunday families and wounded and our supporters came together to form the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign, We organised, we lobbied, we agitated, we raised our own funds and we travelled far and wide to gather national and international support for our campaign.
“We had three clear demands; the repudiation of the Widgery whitewash, a declaration of innocence of all the victims of Bloody Sunday and the prosecution of those responsible. The Saville report recognised the complete innocence of our loved ones and ended the lies of Widgery. But we will always reject the stain that was left on Gerard Donaghy’s name by the finding that he was probably carrying nail bombs. He was not carrying nail bombs.”
Bishop of Derry, Dónal McKeown said, “On this day, our hearts are filled with sadness and yet full of pride. We can look back but we’re not trapped in the past, we look forward with hope of a bright new day in the town that we all love so well.”
Dr Sameh Hassan said, “I greet you with the greeting of Islam, a greeting of peace. I would like to thank the Bloody Sunday Trust and the families for inviting me to participate in this service on behalf of the Muslim community in this city.
“I couldn’t be more honoured to be here with you. We come together here today to remember and honour the victims who were killed on Bloody Sunday. Despite the passing of all those years, we can still visualise the defining moments in this very place 50 years ago.
“So, it’s important that all of us in this city and beyond come together regardless of faith, race or background, to stand in solidarity with the families of the Bloody Sunday victims to achieve the justice that they have impressively been fighting for 50 years. While doing this, let’s keep in mind that peace is the only way forward.”
The names of the victims were read out as the sound of an Irish Flute echoed around the Bogside before the crowd fell silent again for the 14 men who died.