Background

Bloody Sunday March For Justice

When the serving British Prime Minister David Cameron used the words, ‘Unjustified and unjustifiable’ to describe the British army’s actions on Bloody Sunday, those three words allied with The Bloody Sunday Inquiry’s own finding on the same day (15th June 2010), that all of those killed and injured were completely innocent, represented for many, the high-water mark of the campaign. There is no doubting that in realising two of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign’s three demands it marked an enormous achievement in the campaign so in late December 2010 as we approached the 39th anniversary, a public debate was initiated by the announcement of the Bloody Sunday Trust that following year’s anniversary march on 30 January 2011 would be the last.

Start of the Bloody Sunday March 2010

Start of the Bloody Sunday March 2010

While it initially sounded as if the families and the Weekend Organising Committee were of one voice on this, it soon emerged that there was a diversity of opinion within the families, the wider campaign and the city as to whether or not the annual Bloody Sunday March should continue into the future. Those who felt the march should end argued that June 15th 2010 represented victory for the campaign. They felt it marked the point when the campaign should move from a broad based civic society one, galvanised each year by the march to a private legal one that was best left to the DPP, the families and their legal representatives.

Those who held the alternative view felt the march should continue at the very least until those responsible for the murder of their loved ones where held to account. This is in fact the third of the three original demands of the campaign. The strength of opinion behind this view was dramatised when Kate and Linda Nash left the Bloody Sunday Trust’s scheduled route of the march to Guildhall Square and turned right at Roseville Street. A significant section of those marching decided to follow them. They stopped at Free Derry Corner where Kate declared that they would organise the annual march the following year. Kate and Linda’s brother Willie Nash was murdered on Bloody Sunday. Their father Alex was also shot and wounded. He had been trying to go to the aid of his fatally wounded son at the time.

Public meeting at Pilot’s Row to confirm details of the 2012 March for Justice

Public meeting at Pilot’s Row to confirm details of the 2012 March for Justice

As a result of the above when last year’s 40th anniversary march did take place, it was in an atmosphere of considerable controversy within the community. Its theme was March For Justice. It was organised by Kate and Linda together with their friend Helen Deery and the support of others in the city and beyond. Helen’s 15-year-old brother Manus Deery was shot dead by the British army in May 1972. More than 5000 took part. Liam Wray whose brother Jim was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, addressed the crowd alongside Kate. They each reaffirmed the civil rights/human rights ethos of the march and that it should be maintained as the national/international platform it had become to speak out not just about Bloody Sunday but other human rights issues here and across the world.

March For Justice 2012

March For Justice 2012

They declared that they would march again and continue to march each year and made a public appeal from the platform for those interested in helping to organise subsequent marches to contact them. Those people have come together to form the Bloody Sunday March Committee and agree the ethos within which the march and surrounding events will be taken forward each year.

 

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Context 2017

One World One Struggle

Bloody Sunday was inflicted on the people of Derry.  But it has resonated around the world.  It is a local issue relevant to people everywhere.

Over the 45 years since British paratroopers erupted into the working-class Bogside area with rifles spitting death at civil rights marchers, representatives of victims of State violence from both sides of the Atlantic, from Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, have travelled to Derry to take part in the annual commemoration and give substance to the idea of 'One World, One Struggle'. 

The British Government still sets its face Iike flint against telling the full truth about the Derry massacre.  A long Inquiry reported in 2010 that all the dead and wounded had been unlawfully shot. Despite this, the Report stopped well short of proposing prosecution of the killers - and pointed no finger of`blame at the senior military officers who had sent the Paras in, or at the politicians who had connived at the assault and then orchestrated a cover-up.

This is always the way when it comes to the violence of imperialism.

Only the persistence of family members and their supporters forced a police investigation. We await the outcome. One reason the British authorities fear the facts about Bloody Sunday is that this massacre cannot be ascribed to warring Irish factions. This was an authentically British atrocity.

Past commemorations have featured African Americans, Palestinians, former Guantanamo prisoners, victims of police violence in Britain etc., as well as members of other families bereaved by murder here in the North, in many cases murder inflicted by State agents and then systematically lied about to protect the same undercover agents.

Lectures, debates and cultural events are highlighted, economic struggles, women’s rights, gay rights, the rights of the environment, and many other examples of`oppression.  We have commemorated, too, the killing of other innocent people by non-State groups - Dublin Monaghan, Birmingham, Shankill, Greysteel, the Ormeau bookies, etc.

We believe that the programme we have produced this year puts Bloody Sunday in its proper context, an extreme example of the fact that, commonly, it’s innocent people who pose no threat to anyone who bear the brunt of conflict.

The trek towards truth and justice has been long and sometimes arduous. But we keep on keeping on because the cause is just and gives good example to the one world in which we all struggle. 

Bloody Sunday March News