29 January 2006



01/29/06 10:23 EST

Several thousand people today took part in the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration march in Derry. The large crowd marked the 34th anniversary of the killing of 13 innocent civilians by members of the Parachute Regiment on January 30 1972.

It was expected to be the final march before the Bloody Sunday Inquiry team, headed by Lord Saville of Newdigate, reports the findings of its GBP£150 million hearing - the longest inquiry in British legal history.

Sinn Fein Assembly member Raymond McCartney warned that the people of Derry would settle for nothing but the truth of what happened that distant day.

Addressing the crowds, he said that when Lord Saville and his two colleagues report "they must keep in their minds one of the great lessons of Bloody Sunday that if the truth of that day is in anyway suppressed then the quest for the truth remains as fresh as it was all those years ago."

Mr McCartney gave evidence to the Saville tribunal detailing how the events of Bloody Sunday prompted him to join the IRA and to take part in the Maze Prison hunger strike.

He said the the inquiry team: "It is up to them to place blame on those who are to blame and to place guilt on those who are guilty. The men shot dead that day, the men and women wounded that day - were deliberate acts - there is no escape from declaring that it was murder and attempted murder, no ifs, no buts."

The Foyle MLA said he wanted to commend the families of those killed and the wounded for their "dignity, integrity and endurance on what has been a long journey in their campaign for justice and truth."

One of Northern Ireland`s youngest politicians, SDLP Councillor Colum Eastwood, born 14 years after Bloody Sunday, said he marched in solidarity with the families and those injured.

"You stood tall for truth against the lies and cover-up of Widgery. You will stand only for full truth from Saville. In the face of provocation, insult and abuse, your dignity has shone through. Whatever may come in the time ahead, your cause will win through."

The 20-year-old said his generation wanted to move forward and build an Ireland where conflict, division and despair would be the footnotes of a tragic history.

But, he said, to get to the future he wanted, the past had to be left behind on a moral basis, with no cover-ups and by putting victims and survivors first.

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