27 January 2006

The Truth, And Nothing But The Truth'

Derry Journal

By Julieann Campbell
Friday 27th January 2006

Jackie Duddy

As the 34th anniversary of Bloody Sunday killings approaches, Kay Duddy, whose younger brother Jackie was the first to be murdered on that fateful day, spoke to the 'Journal' about justice, her family life since that fateful day, and her hopes for the forthcoming Saville Inquiry Report. Having lost their mother to Leukaemia just a few years previously the close knit, good natured family of fifteen children then living in the Central Driver area of Creggan were not to know then that the events of Sunday, January 30, 1972 were to dominate the rest of their lives.

As January 30, 2006 fast approaches the same family are still awaiting an explanation for why their 17-years-old brother was shot dead in the Bogside whilst attending a march for Civil Rights. Kay has since dedicated her adult life to the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign, intent on achieving what many thought impossible --justice. But how has the years of dedication affected Kay's personal life? She told the 'Journal': "Has the campaign interfered with my life? Very much so, because my life wasn't my own, I had to make time for family as much as I could, in between the group trying to get support and getting the petition signed, encouraging people to listen to us and back us up." This Sunday sees the 34th annual Bloody Sunday Commemorative march, chaired by Kay herself. But what message does she hope to give the thousands in attendance during her speech this Sunday? Kay said yesterday: "In my speech, I'm hoping to get the message across that after this enquiry, after all the walking the feet of ourselves, knocking on doors, travelling all over the world, meeting Senators and going to the Whitehouse, that FINALLY we are going to get the truth and justice we've always been looking for."

Does Kay believe that public perception of the events of Bloody Sunday has changed over the decades? "Yes, I think people perceptions have changed," she said, "It gave people the chance to talk about their thoughts and feelings about the day for the first time, the campaign made people more aware. "The deceased were at first classed as nailbombers and gunmen, so people had that perception for years afterwards, but then they realised that this was just young men and boys. Six of those killed were actually only 17-yearsold, and so people began to realised that this was a terrible event, not just an event that happened that day." Kay wasn't actually on the march herself.

She explained what happened: "I was at home, and at sometime during the day, an aunt and uncle came to the door to tell us that Jackie had been 'hurt down the town,' I think that was the way it was put to us. "We didn't have a phone in the house and so I went to the local community centre to phone the hospital. I asked was a Jackie Duddy admitted to casualty and they asked who was making the enquiry, I said it was his sister. And the person - I think it was a female --came back and said that Jackie Duddy was dead on admission to hospital, that's how we found out he was dead. And I just remember screaming, I think I threw the phone in the air, and then we had to go and tell my Daddy. He had been on nightshift at the local hospital and we has to go and waken him to tell him what had happened." "After that, everything is fuzzy, I lost about three days... I don't remember the wake in our house. I thought I was at the funerals, but the same aunt that had told us Jackie was hurt told me later that I'd collapsed on the chapel steps and had to be taken home." The news made a dreadful impact on the Duddy family. Kay recalls: "It broke our family, destroyed our family. One of the links in our chain was broken. Jackie was a 17-years-old brother of mine, interested in his amateur boxing, a laidback, happy-go-lucky kindof young fella, and that part of our life was suddenly taken away.

"It just wasn't a member of the family," she went on, "it was a whole generation. We don't know if he would've gone on to marry, I'd have had another sister-in-law, if I would had more nieces and nephews? If he'd have gone on to fight at the Olympics? How his life would have panned out. That chance was all taken away from him in a single day."

But Kay is thankful the family remained strong: "We were very unfortunate in that we'd lost our mammy before Jackie's death to Leukaemia, and we've since lost our daddy, so I feel we're very, very fortunate that, as a family, we've stuck together through thick and thin - I'm very proud of that fact." After all the years of the Justice Group campaigning for a new inquiry, the Saville Inquiry was established. But are there any particularly vivid memories of that campaign that Kay has?

"I remember a lot of it," she says, "especially travelling to London, travelling to America, going to 10 Downing Street to hand in a petition for a new inquiry that the people of Derry had signed, going to Capitol Hill to talk to a room full of senators, something I never thought I'd be able to do! I didn't even talk through it - I cried the whole way through it --which I think might have made more impact than just talking about it." "It was very hard work," Kay went on, "we spoke to anyone who would listen. We knocked on their doors and knocked on their doors until they must've been sick of the sight of us. Until they sat up and took notice." Shouted 'Up the Paras" The end of the Saville Inquiry was held in the Methodist Hall in central London, so how did Kay feel at having to travel to London to hear the evidence of the soldiers themselves? "It should have been held in Derry, because that's where it happened," she said. "I think that the Inquiry being taken to London was to maybe try and put us off, but if anything, it strengthened our resolve. London was horrendous --like going into the unknown because we didn't know whether people would show animosity." She remembered only one occasion of hostility towards the group. "When we got there, we laid a wreath for all the people killed in the Troubles outside Westminster Abbey, and a man drove past in an open-back lorry, shouting "Up the Paras" and actually did a second lap to shout it again. But to my knowledge, that's the only time they even acknowledged we were there." Kay describes the 13 months travelling back and forth to London as 'horrendous' and added: "The fact was, when I was there - I wanted to be home, and when I was home, I wanted to be there. I wasn't there all the time, but as much as humanly possible, and as much as it disrupted my life, it was something that had to be done."

The families have waited a long time for the truth, and Saville's findings will no doubt be revealed in the next few months. Kay describes the wait as "a great big void in our life," and is understandably anxious about its conclusions. She went on: "Every day someone asks me "Any word of the report yet?" The Widgery Report was a total whitewash, and it was great to know that that was binned, and everyone knowing it had been a whitewash. That was one of the first victories through the campaigning, our second was achieving the second inquiry. From then on, we just grew from strength to strength." When the Saville findings are eventually published, does Kay believe they will achieve justice at long last? What does she hope the report will show? "The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," she said.

Kay went on: " For us, personally, we've actually accused Soldier V of murdering Jackie, which he denied, but somebody murdered Jackie, its as simple as that, and we want that acknowledged. "They immediately labelled Jackie after that terrible Sunday afternoon as a nailbomber, petrolbomber, a gunman, and that has lived with us the past 34 years. That stain on his character has to be taken away - that's very, very important to us. We were never out for vengeance, we always wanted truth and justice, but what that justice will be, remains to be seen."

Does Kay have faith in Lord Saville, I asked her? She replied: "I think Lord Saville set out to do a job, and I feel he will do the job he set out to do. What we're really hoping for is closure. Its been like a wake for the past 34 years for our loved ones, and I feel its time we lay them to rest, once and for all, with the truth and dignity that they all deserve." "The wounded have lived with this legacy for the last 34 years, and I hope that this report will give them closure and peace of mind so they can move on with their lives as well," she added. Kay also expressed her gratitude to everyone who has supported her family and all the other families since Bloody Sunday, and who "helped us achieve what we've achieved up to now." She added: "A heartfelt thanks from myself and from all the family members and all the wounded to everybody that was there for us, and still are, and I want them to pray like they've never prayed before that we get the result we've worked so hard for."

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