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Year 2001 Number 12, January 23, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Initiatives in London to Commemorate Bloody Sunday

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Initiatives in London to Commemorate Bloody Sunday
Workshops and Rally

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Initiatives in London to Commemorate Bloody Sunday

Workshops and Rally

British paratroopers killed 14 unarmed men, many teenagers, on a Civil Rights march in Derry. The day was January 30, 1972. This Bloody Sunday Massacre was commemorated with an afternoon of events in Caxton House, London, on Saturday, January 20.

The first session of the afternoon consisted of reports on the Bloody Sunday Inquiry currently taking place in Derry. The second, entitled State Terror from Bloody Sunday to Today, heard reports from the campaigns on the killings of Pat Finucane, Rosie Nelson, Harry Stanley, Robert Hamill, Diarmuid O’Neill and others killed directly or with the connivance of the British state and concerning which the state is doing all in its power to cover up the truth.

The final session was a Mass Rally. The speakers were introduced to the packed hall of many hundreds by Jeremy Corbyn MP. John McDonnell MP said that there was no doubt in his mind that things had gone backwards in the past year. Regarding progress in the peace process and the stabilising of institutions in the north of Ireland, regarding policing and demilitarisation, as well as with the passing of the Terrorism Act and the stepped-up harassment of the Irish community in Britain, there has been no advance, in fact the opposite. He said that it is important to strengthen the campaigns to reveal the truth of the killings, to raise Ireland as an issue in the coming General Election, and to demand that the Good Friday Agreement be implemented in full.

Martina Anderson of Sinn Fein remembered those who died on Bloody Sunday. She said it was no accident. It had been planned by the British political and military leadership, supported by Unionism, to break the spirit of those struggling for freedom. The tragedy for the Irish people is that the British never learnt the lessons of Ireland. Bloody Sunday had only strengthened commitment. It had awakened among the youth especially, like herself, the need to be rid of British military power. She said that the British establishment did not want to relinquish its hold on the north of Ireland. The Widgery Report blamed the victims, Blair had only reluctantly established a new Inquiry, and now every dirty trick is being used to suppress the truth. The British military establishment, she said, must face the consequences of its actions. Support in Britain would ensure this.

Francie Molloy of Sinn Fein said it was important that nearly 30 years after the event so many had gathered, as he put it, "in the heart of the beast". This ensured that the memory of those who died would not be forgotten, and that truth and justice would prevail. He said that Bloody Sunday was premeditated murder and he queried if there was any difference between the British government of 1972 and today. But he emphasised that Bloody Sunday had ensured that the Irish people would not lie down, even if there is still a long way to go. British forces, he said, were in Ireland then to protect British interests and this is still the case today. He asked why the British government does not admit the truth of Bloody Sunday and what a disaster it had been. But to admit such, he said, would be to admit that the situation was still the same today. So the truth must be brought out. It is up to Tony Blair to show that he is running the government, not the "securocrats". The British government must meet the commitments it has made. There is no question of renegotiation. There can be no Unionist veto. The Belfast Agreement, the Patten proposals, must be implemented in full. He said that Sinn Fein is not giving up; it is not going away; it would fulfil the Good Friday Agreement; and march on to freedom and a united Ireland.

The last speaker, Alana Burke, spoke movingly of how she had gone with such high good spirits on the Bloody Sunday march, had been severely injured, had lain with the dead, and how the trauma had lived with her ever since. She attended the Inquiry in Derry every day. She hoped the truth would come out and the guilty would cease to be protected.

Finally, Nick Mullen of the Bloody Sunday Organising Committee thanked the speakers and said he hoped the day’s events would galvanise the work and that all would redouble their efforts regarding Bloody Sunday and all the issues concerned.

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"Bloody Sunday – Tell the Truth Now!"; "No More cover-ups – No More Lies!"; "Tell the Truth Now – Don’t Protect the Guilty!".

With these slogans at a picket of 10 Downing Street on Sunday, January 21, the Bloody Sunday Organising Committee concluded its weekend of initiatives exposing the role of the British army and government in state-orchestrated violence and shoot-to-kill policies, which resulted in the killings of 14 protesters on that day in January 1972. The 60-strong picket raised Irish tricolours, gave leaflets to passers-by, and displayed placards highlighting the continued injustice of denial and cover-up of this appalling episode.

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