Bernadette to Address Rally

Bernadette McAliskey to address this years Bloody Sunday March.

The Bloody Sunday March Committee is delighted to confirm that Bernadette McAliskey will deliver the main address at this year’s Bloody Sunday March for Justice rally.

Veteran Civil Rights campaigner Bernadette McAlliskey.

Civil Rights campaigner Bernadette McAlliskey.

Asked why she had accepted the invitation to speak she said:

“I’ve agreed to speak because I do not believe that the real culprits for Bloody Sunday where either exposed or held to account through The Bloody Sunday Inquiry. I believe the British Government were responsible and the people who got the blame were a handful of soldiers. 

I always believed there should not have been an inquiry.  There should have been prosecutions at the Hague.  But whatever I believed, truth and justice have not been achieved through that process and as long as that remains the case I’ll continue to be on platforms and forums calling for it.  

I also believe in the fundamental right to articulate dissent from a majority opinion and that right continues to be under serious threat in Northern Ireland today.”

Bernadette McAliskey (nee Devlin), was a prominent member of the civil rights movement at the time of Bloody Sunday and,  as MP for Mid Ulster, was the youngest woman ever to be elected to the House of Commons.  On the 30th January 1972 she was on the platform in Derry, about to address the rally when 1-Para entered the Bogside and started shooting into the fleeing crowd.

She made sure to be in House of Commons the next day because as the only member of the Westminster parliament present in Derry on the day she had an automatic right to put to Parliament what she had witnessed.

The Speaker refused her that right saying she had no rights other than those granted by the speaker.  However Reginald Maudling the British Home Secretary at the time was given the floor and allowed to speak about Derry, suggested that the paratroopers only returned fire at identified gunmen.

At that point Bernadette Devlin (as she was then) walked across the floor of the house and struck the home secretary.  Speaking afterwards she said her only regret was that she didn’t hit him hard enough.

Since then Bernadette McAliskey has been consistent in her support for human and civil rights for those denied them whoever and wherever they may be and most recently in the case of the detainee Marian Price.  She currently works in a community project in South Tyrone that deals with a wide range of human rights and social justice issues.

This year’s Bloody Sunday March for Justice will take place in Derry on Sunday January 27th starting from Creggan shops,  Central Drive, Derry  at 2.30 pm.

Speaking on behalf of the committee Jim Keys said, “The theme of this year’s March for Justice is ‘End Inpunity’ and there are many issues of injustice beyond Bloody Sunday that need to be addressed today.  The Bloody Sunday March and its associated programme of events have established themselves as an annual space and platform to explore and begin to address those issues as well as make connections between them.  We encourage everyone to come and join us.”

Full details of the programme of events are available on the Committee’s website at  BloodySundayMarch.org

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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. 

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