Campaigners in Northern Ireland are determined to march next January to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday,’ although the families of the victims said they will not participate in the demonstration.
On Jan. 30, 1972, thirteen people (including teenagers as young as seventeen) attending a civil rights march in Londonderry were killed by soldiers from the British Parachute Regiment who opened fire. (A fourteenth person who was wounded in the shooting died a few months later). At least 26 people had been shot by British troops.
The barbaric act prompted revulsion around the glove and essentially ended the peaceful campaign for civil rights and equality for Catholics in Northern Ireland.
Vinny Coyle, a member of the Civil Rights Veteran's Association, told BBC: Justice didn't go away with the end of the Saville Inquiry, referring to the examination of the tragedy under the reign of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in the late 1990s.
Coyle also said his group wants the British government to establish an international truth and reconciliation committee to examine Bloody Sunday and its aftermath.
There will be a huge amount of support for this, because injustice is still going on,” he said. We would love all the families to be there but if they choose not to go, that's their choice.”
However, after four decades, there seems to be less interest in remembering one of the most tragic events in Northern Ireland’s recent history. Relatives of the victims are particularly critical of the planned march.
They have no moral authority, no mandate, no right and have disrespected our views which were publicly aired in the run up to the thirty-ninth anniversary, said Tony Doherty, whose father Patrick died on Bloody Sunday, according to BBC.
Similarly, John Kelly, whose brother Michael died in the massacre, told BBC: I would say to these people [organizers] to hold this event on another date, and we will march with you then. I personally rang most of the families and they do not want to know, they have made their decision and they will not go back on it.
Indeed, the march in Derry last year, which attracted thousands of people, was designed to be the final commemoration of Bloody Sunday. At that time a majority of the victims’ families signed a statement which said that because the Saville report exonerated the victims from any responsibility in the shootings, there was no need for any more demonstrations.
Tony Doherty told the media then: The vast majority of the families felt that what we had brought about, what we had achieved on 15 June, with the Saville Report as an exoneration, with the words of David Cameron, with apology and accepting political responsibility for the atrocity of Bloody Sunday, that it was now time for us all to consider moving on.