27 January 2006

'Sunday' Relatives' Pain Has Never Healed - Says Derry-Born Author

Derry Journal

Friday 27th January 2006

A Derry-born clinical social worker who has spent the past decade cataloguing the traumatic aftermath of Bloody Sunday says many of the victims' relatives "have never had the opportunity to heal." Dr. Patrick Hayes, who works with victims of trauma in his successful practice in Massachusetts in the United States, says that, to this day, the families of those killed in the Bogside on January 30, 1972, are tortured by the memories of the violent events.

Dr. Hayes recently coauthored with Dr. Jim Campbell a critical analysis of the British government and its role in the events of Bloody Sunday, 'Bloody Sunday: Trauma, Pain and Politics', published by Pluto Press, includes a detailed account of the human cost of violence in the North. As well as containing key material on the impact of the Saville Inquiry, the book also tackles the subject from a new angle that covers both the political and psychological aspects of what happened.

Dr. Hayes - who was born in the Bogside 61 years ago and lived in the city until he was nine years-old before moving to Boston - says many of the relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That they have remained undiagnosed --and untreated - is, he says, a travesty.

People suffering from PTSD, says Dr. Hayes, may relive the experience for years through nightmares and flashbacks. Indeed, these may last a lifetime. This, he says, is what's happened to the family members of those killed on Bloody Sunday. The Derry-born author was attending the University of Massachusetts when the 1972 massacre occurred. "I remember being furious at the time, but that just kind of passed," he says. Then, in the early 1990s, he met Marie Smyth, a lecturer at the Magee Campus of the University of Ulster, who triggered his interest about Bloody Sunday. "We developed an interest together in PTSD and how it may have impacted on the families," he says. So, in 1992, Dr. Hayes and his wife, Eileen - an associate professor of nursing - made their first trip together to Derry.

Overwhelmed with emotion at his return home, Dr. Hayes' interest in Bloody Sunday grew and he began to formulate plans for a book. These plans would eventually serve as material for a doctoral thesis at Queen's University, Belfast, where his co-author Jim Campbell, is a senior lecturer.

In 1997, Dr. Hayes and his wife returned to Derry to interview the families of those killed. Over the next few years, they visited Derry a dozen more times. During these trips, Dr. Hayes interviewed 26 people whose relatives died on the streets of the Bogside. Bloody Sunday, says Dr. Hayes, marked the beginning of three decades of emotional and physical ailments caused by PTSD. "They've never had the opportunity to heal," he says. "This is not going to resolve until people can feel they've been vindicated. That's there an apology - that it never should have happened. Then these people can go on with their lives."

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