Bloody Sunday families say battle for justice continues after 50 years


However, relatives of several of those shot in Londonderry half a century ago this Sunday have expressed doubts that they will ever be able to obtain convictions for the deaths of their loved ones.

Thirteen civil rights protesters were shot dead by British soldiers and 15 wounded in the Bogside area of ​​the city on January 30, 1972.

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Another man shot by paratroopers that day died four months later. Though considered by many to be the 14th victim of Bloody Sunday, his death was formally attributed to an inoperable brain tumor.

John Kelly, brother of Michael Kelly, who was murdered on Bloody Sunday in Derry’s Bogside in 1972, holds a picture of his brother next to the Civil Rights mural in the city. The activist has recounted how he narrowly avoided being shot the same day his teenage brother was killed. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Grieving families will gather Sunday morning to re-enact the route of the civil rights march that ended in tragedy 50 years ago.

Several families said the anniversary is a new opportunity to push for convictions, while remembering the poignant events of 1972.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was shot dead, said: “The 50th anniversary is important because of its injustice – the fact that innocent people were shot and no one was brought to justice for what they they made.

“We have been campaigning for all these years. It took us years through the Saville Inquiry to show the world that our people were innocent, and we did.

“Now we are trying to see justice for our people.”

Tony Doherty’s father, Patrick, a civil rights activist, was shot dead on Bloody Sunday.

Doherty said the Bloody Sunday families are angry at the Conservative Government’s plans for what would be an amnesty in the Trouble-era trials.

“It’s never too late (for justice), but the signs are not good at the moment,” he said.

Some 15,000 people gathered in the Creggan area of ​​Derry on the morning of 30 January 1972 to take part in a civil rights march, which was banned by the Stormont government at the time.

After Army barricades blocked the march, rioting broke out before soldiers from the Parachute Regiment opened fire, resulting in 13 deaths.

An immediate investigation, led by then Lord Chief Justice Lord Widgery, was labeled a cover-up after it largely cleared soldiers of blame.

After years of campaigning by the victims’ families, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair ordered a new investigation in 1998.

Saville’s investigation concluded in 2010 that none of the victims posed a threat or did anything to justify their shooting and then-Prime Minister David Cameron apologized in the House of Commons, saying the killings were “unjustified and unjustifiable”.

The Northern Ireland Police Service subsequently launched a criminal investigation, but last year it was announced that a veteran, Private F, would not be prosecuted for the murders of Jim Wray and William McKinney amid concerns that the The case could collapse in light of a separate court ruling on the admissibility of evidence that led to the collapse of another Troubles murder trial involving military veterans.

Several families of Bloody Sunday victims are legally challenging the Public Ministry’s decisions not to prosecute veterans for murder during Bloody Sunday.

No rulings have yet been handed down in the challenges.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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