30 January 2006

‘Moment of truth nears’ - Thousands turned out yesterday to honour the Bloody Sunday dead

Daily Ireland

“It has the potential to send either a wave of hope or a sea of despair to all the other victims of state violence on this island.” – Kay Duddy — sister of Jackie, shot dead by a British paratrooper on Bloody Sunday — on the importance of the Saville inquiry

By Eamonn Houston in Derry


Thousands of people yesterday retraced the route of the 1972 civil rights demonstration that ended in 13 deaths on the streets of Derry on Bloody Sunday.
They heard calls for 2006 to be the year that justice is done.
British paratroopers shot dead 13 civilians on January 30, 1972. A further man died in June that year as a result of his wounds.
Relatives of the dead bearing 14 crosses led yesterday’s procession as it wound its way from the Creggan estate to Rossville Street in the Bogside, the scene of the Bloody Sunday killings.
Prominent Sinn Féin and SDLP politicians attended the commemorative march. Marchers held photographs of those killed, and over 3,000 candles were distributed to the crowd to honour all those who died in the conflict. The candles were lit in a misty Bogside as the rally approached its close.
At Free Derry wall, the main address was delivered by Kay Duddy, whose brother Jack was shot dead as he fled members of the first battalion of the Parachute Regiment.
Ms Duddy thanked the people of Derry for their support over the years. She said that the findings of Lord Saville, who oversaw the second inquiry into the events of the day, had the potential to send “a wave of hope or a sea of despair” to other victims of state violence in Ireland.
Lord Saville is due to publish his report later this year. The Bloody Sunday inquiry was the largest tribunal of its kind in British legal history.
Ms Duddy said: “2006 will be a challenging year for all of us. In many ways, it will mark a potential watershed for the campaign for truth and justice concerning Bloody Sunday. It also has the potential to send either a wave of hope or a sea of despair to all the other victims of state violence on this island.”
Ms Duddy said Bloody Sunday had been viewed as a litmus test for the British government in Ireland “and as a beacon of hope for many other families and campaigns who have not had the opportunities nor witnessed the progress that we have achieved.”
She added: “We are conscious that there are many families throughout Ireland who are looking to the Saville report to get a sense of whether the British state is now prepared to face up to the consequences of their attitudes and their actions in Ireland.
“For make no mistake about it — the true challenge of 2006 will be whether the British state can come to terms with the conclusions that I am confident the Saville inquiry will deliver, and that paramount among them will be that British soldiers murdered 14 innocent men and boys and wounded another 14 innocent men and women on the streets of Derry on the 30th of January, 1972. That is the challenge that will confront the British state when the Saville report is published because the tribunal really has no alternative finding to offer.”
Ms Duddy said the Bloody Sunday families were confident that Lord Saville’s report would finally exonerate the victims and affirm their innocence.
“And so we are fast approaching the moment of truth and the moment of justice. The Saville report will probably be delivered within the next six months. But whenever it is delivered, I am confident that certain conclusions will be contained, simply because certain conclusions are unavoidable.
“So what do we expect from the Saville inquiry in real terms? How will the Saville report rise to the challenge and, in light of the evidence that was presented, what are our expectations?
“Firstly, we expect the Saville report to state clearly that British soldiers committed murder on the streets of Derry on Bloody Sunday.
“Secondly, that there was never any justification for any of the British army’s actions carried out on the day.
“Thirdly, that the circumstances and atmosphere created within the Parachute Regiment immediately prior to their deployment in Derry were a direct contributor to their murderous actions.
“Fourthly, culpability for events on the day lies with the British government ministers and British army officers who made the decision to murder the civil rights movement on the streets of Derry, and that the British state must finally take full legal and political responsibility for the actions of their agents.”
Ms Duddy said the “lies, untruths and evasions” that characterised British state policy towards Bloody Sunday should be “forever purged from the history books”.
“Only then will the Saville inquiry have delivered on the challenge that it was set — to tell the truth that so many of us already knew,” she told yesterday’s rally.

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