Saoradh re-pledges support for Bloody Sunday march after 2018 boycott over 'reformist' poster

Bloody Sunday.
Bloody Sunday.

Another republican group that boycotted last year's Bloody Sunday commemorations due to what it dubbed their 'reformist' nature has re-pledged support for this year's programme.

Saoradh, the Derry-headquartered republican party, said its membership overwhelmingly decided to reaffirm the party’s support for the Bloody Sunday march following a series of grassroots discussions.

"The process of discussion took place following Saoradh’s decision to withdraw from the the Bloody Sunday March last year after the release of a reformist poster for the event," the group said.

"Bloody Sunday was originally an anti-internment rally. There are currently a number of Irish republican political activists interned by the British State, the same British State responsible for the war crimes committed on Bloody Sunday.

"We now hope that the Bloody Sunday March will continue in its original form, giving a voice and an acknowledgement to Irish Republicans who find themselves interned and those who represent them," it added.

Saoradh's announcement that it will support this year's march follows confirmation from the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP), Independent Republican Councillors, the 1916 Societies and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, that they will also be backing this year's programme of events.

Last year Saoradh said it was boycotting the march because of "the contradictory, and at times hypocritical material released in promotion of this year’s [2018] Bloody Sunday rally [which had] ostracised a large section of support for the march".

This was understood to have been a reference to the inclusion of the names of victims of republican violence on a promotional poster for last year's events.

This year the Bloody Sunday March Committee's focus for the commemorations is on the responsibility of the British establishment for the slaughter of 13 people who had marched against internment on January 30, 1972.

A 14th victim, John Johnston, would die four months later.

At the launch of the 2019 march last December relatives and supporters of the victims unveiled a 'Jail Jackson' poster which referenced the often-decorated former Chief of the General Staff of the British Army, the now retired General Mike Jackson.

At the time of Bloody Sunday, the then Captain Mike Jackson (Adjutant 1 Para) was second in command of the unit that killed the anti-internment marchers.

This change of focus has apparently secured the support of most of those republican groups who walked away from last year's event.

"Saoradh’s position regarding the Bloody Sunday March is now a matter of public record. Our position has been outlined since our inception and we endeavour to support the March again this year in the absence of British interference or sentiment.

"As we go forward we retain the right to offer a critique and/or take action again in future should issues such as those that occurred in 2018 arise again," said a spokesperson.