A Bloody Sunday March will proceed

The strains of the protest song ‘We shall overcome’ shall ring out over Derry on Sunday 29th of January at the conclusion of a march to mark the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. The march has been organised in the face of a disputed decision last year by the Bloody Sunday Committee and a majority of the campaigning families to declare that the 2011 march would be the last, given the ‘vindication’ of their campaign in the findings of the Saville Inquiry. More than a hundred relatives of those killed and wounded on Bloody Sunday had publicly backed the move to bring an end to the annual march.

The singing will be led by relatives of 19-year-old William Nash, one of the thirteen people killed on Bloody Sunday. His father was wounded when he went to his son’s aid. William’s sisters, Kate and Linda have organised the march, describing the decision to abandon the annual protest as ‘premature’. In 2011 they also rejected outright an offer of compensation from the MOD.

On the eve of the Bloody Sunday Committee’s decision last year, three members, Jim Keys, Stephen Gargan and Jim Collins stood down citing differences over how future commemorations will take place. At the centre of the dispute is what they see as the unfinished business after the publication of Lord Saville’s findings, notably the question of prosecutions and the holding to account of those with the real military and political authority who made the fateful decisions.

Writing in a personal capacity in the Derry Journal this week, Keys describes the thinking behind his decision to march. He cites the lack of prosecutions,  and Saville’s ‘bamboozling’ conclusions about nail bombs found in the pockets of Bloody Sunday victim Gerald Donaghey and a high-level cover up of what took place on the fateful day.

Keys writes: ‘Take the cover-up issue as an example. The inquiry dealt in detail with the ‘shot list’ of British Army shootings on the day. The evidence exposed it to be fictitious. When the incidents it depicted were examined some soldiers would have had to be able to see and shoot through buildings and walls to be able to hit the targets they reported firing at. An objective reading of the evidence around it suggests it was concocted by Mike Jackson, Adjutant of 1Para on the day. He went on to become General Sir Mick Jackson, head of the British Army. And even though the inquiry knows that this piece of fiction formed the basis of the official story emanating from British embassies around the world, it concludes there was no evidence of a high-level cover-up? This was the high level cover-up!’

Commenting on aspirations for a more inclusive march that will be more open to other campaigns for justice, Keys recalls the 2006 Bloody Sunday Lecture delivered by Alan McBride whose wife and father-in-law were killed in the IRA bombing on the Shankill Road, and, in the same year, the lighting of candles to commemorate every victim of the conflict during the march.

‘What kind of justice would we be marching for if it were not justice for everyone? Isn’t it time we created inclusive spaces and marches where we can dialogue and begin to sort out what justice might be in this complex legacy context and find the courage demanded to learn its ways, rather than stay stuck in our truncated sectarian versions of it?’ Keys asks.

Keys goes on to reflect on his hopes that the Bloody Sunday march would proceed and be ‘decoupled’ from its association during end-of-rally platforms with attempts to legitimize armed struggle. ‘Were this to happen we would be picking up the blood stained banner that was dropped on Bloody Sunday and reinvigorating the ideals of non-violence and inclusive justice too many of us lost sight of  as we dropped it.’

Keys does not seek to ‘sanctimoniously condemn armed struggle’ but to understand a world where the veneer of democracy is never far from the structures of violence that demand an understanding of the socio-political responses [including forms of protest] that empower them and those that liberate us from them.

For Keys and others the annual Bloody Sunday commemorations, which now include annual lectures, discussion panels, exhibitions and performances that often speak to Derry’s desire to offer international solidarity with other peoples in struggle, have taken on a meaning that both includes the vindication of the relatives’ long campaign and goes beyond it. ‘I’m marching because I believe this is, and always has been, a vital human rights issue for all the citizens of these islands and an important rallying point nationally and internationally for other justice issues,’ writes Keys for whom the inclusion of a dialogue on the armed struggle and non-violent alternatives remains a key concern in negotiating this act of commemoration.

The 40th anniversary commemorative events organised by the Bloody Sunday Committee will also feature the disputed Saville findings that Gerald Donaghey was ‘probably’ carrying nail bombs. Events, including a lecture by barrister Michael Mansfield,  the launch of Julieann Campbell’s book on the story of the Bloody Sunday campaign (Setting The Truth Free – The Inside Story of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign), a Mass and a Memorial Service, and a ‘Uniting Ireland Conference’, will be used to ‘reflect on the entirety of the journey’ that the families and the wider campaign have taken during the past forty years.

Some will look to the Creggan shops at 2.30 p.m. on the 29th of January and comment on the reduced numbers who will undoubtedly take to the streets. Others will judge the event by the nature of – and levels of support enjoyed by – the political groupings who choose to take part. Some will march to stake a claim to pursue the unfinished business of justice and accountability. Dissident republicans are expected to use their presence in a continued campaign to usurp the mantle of the physical force ‘tradition’. And the Socialist Workers Party will press their claim that Derry’s struggle is a universal one….and the long march must go on.

The debate around the commemoration of Bloody Sunday – what some now describe as the politics of memory – contains many fragments and possibilities. They speak to current, painful and deeply disputed positions on the nature of our own political struggle and to universal concerns about how best to secure open-ended democratic transformation. The test will not be about the numbers who turn up at the Creggan shops nor about who has the last word in any attempt to foreclose the horizons of meaning and history.


  • bsfamily

    Please understand the decision by The Bloody Sunday Families taken last year was not disputed. As a family member I attended both meetings and if you choose to refer to Mr Keyes letter you should refer to the letter also published and signed by over 100 family members

  • galloglaigh

    Heinz

    Will you be there?

  • J Kelly

    it should also be noted that over 100 relatives of those murdered on bloody sunday including 7 of the nash family, most of the wounded or relatives of those wounded also had a letter in fridays dery journal outlimg howthey came to the collective decision last year to call an end to the march. this was endorsed by the majority of the weekend committee and the bloody sunday trust.

    by the way word has it that Gary donnelly is one of the main speakers, that should draw a large crowd.

  • galloglaigh

    J Kelly

    You have pointed out a big problem that will be faced by the organisers of this year’s march. I’m sure you remember last year, those who broke away at William Street and proceeded to Free Derry Corner. The 32CSM and other so-called dissident groups, such as the RNU, made up the majority of that breakaway group. The groups mentioned are joining the calls for a continuation of the annual march, against the wishes of the majority on the committee, and the majority of the victims and their families.

    Given the recent bombs in Derry, and not just this week, it is the people of Derry who should not support these actions by allowing them to use the issue of Bloody Sunday, as a way of gaining support for a bombing and shooting campaign, that very few people on this island want.

    It will be interesting to see the numbers at the march!

  • galloglaigh

    Changeisneeded

    I agree with your comment, even though it was removed. I see Heinz’s comment has remained. There you go Mick: Something that continues to happen, and the same people are being allowed to play the man, while others are not… Strange but true!

  • galloglaigh

    And after refreshing the page, my last post should also be removed.

    Thanks!

  • maggiedoot

    The stage is set for the march on 29th January 2012 – Justice for everyone not just some – the only speakers on the platform will be the families of those murdered on Bloody Sunday – this is a peoples march and shame on those trying to discredit it.

  • J Kelly

    they might get a few 100 or even a 1000 but this is not sustainable and they shoudnt tarnish the campaign by allowing it to become a rabble of rebels without a cause or worse.

  • maggiedoot

    If one person turns up with the families of lost loved ones -for justice then it is a step closer to the truth and prosecutions- what is your problem J Kelly? My relations were murdered. It is my right to fight for justice by peaceful means! It is not about money -this march is for justice -it is about justice for everyone not just some. This is a human right matter – we are the new civil rights generation for truth and justice and prosecutions -with respect.No one has the right to take a life no matter who they are and those who use the dead for jobs power should be ashame of themselves! With respect.

  • Mick Fealty

    Galloglaigh,

    You were saying something relevant to Peter’s thread?

  • maggiedoot

    The oppressed -are now the oppressers! Fascists -dictators! We are told to shut up- put up and move on.Justice for everyone not just some in the name of human rights this is a peoples march. God help our generations to come .

  • seamus60

    John no matter how many they get, it will be the same people they have always got.

  • seamus60

    Obviously some people believing the hype in the question asked by a leading spokesman for the Bloody Sunday Committee.

    Who gives them moral authority or a mandate to carry on with this march ?

  • J Kelly

    they dont get their mandate from the relatives of the murdered or the wounded

  • maggiedoot

    This is a people march -march for justice for everyone not just some ! who has the right to tell people what to do -3,700 murdered 47,000 injured! The dead can’t speak but we can.God forgive those who are trying to discredit justice!

  • seamus60

    Do you believe they need to ? and why if you don`t mind answering.

  • sliabhluachra

    They do have a point in that the perpeptrators and all belonging to them should be punished. That said, I can see what Unionists might justifiably throw up.
    Until such time as judges, poiticians, generals, journalists feel the cosh, there ain’t no justice.
    It is awful to look back and think what might have been.

  • boiler1888

    Gary donnelly is NOT speaking at this event.

  • boiler1888

    If one family wants to march then who has the morale authority to stop them.

    They have a right to march…

  • balor

    J kelly is perpetuating a complete load of rubbish here.

    Firstly in a similar vein to the petition that was published in the Derry Journal after the killing of Emmet Shiels, some of those who are named as signatories did not give their permission. So let’s take this letter with a pinch of salt.
    This has gone from giving two fingers up to ‘John Kelly’s Brothers memory’. Now let’s bear in mind this J. Kelly cold be nothing more than an attempt to make people believe it is John Kelly whose brother Michael was murdered on Bloody Sunday and therefore has some authority to speak on this matter.
    J Kelly also states that ‘they don’t get their mandate from the relatives of the murdered or the wounded’, is he referring to the organizers of the march next Sunday and their supporters which include some of those wounded and family members of those gunned down on that day.

    There has been a continuous attempt to paint this as a ‘dissident march’, when the truth is it is organized in the main by 3 grandmothers, who held themselves open to public scrutiny at two public well publicised meetings in Derry’s Bogside.

    J Kelly also is trying to muddy the water by saying that Gary Donnelly of the 32csm is one of the main speakers. I can state with certainty that Mr. Donnelly is not a speaker for that day.

    The organizers of the march have called on people to support all commemorative events, in a statement issued to the Derry Journal a number of weeks ago, but surprise, surprise the full statement was not published.

    I support the right of those who wish to march to do so and those who wish not to march but to commemorate in a way they see fitting to also do so. I will be there this year with my family as I have been there for most of the marches. I am not a dissident, I don’t support violence and I wouldn’t attend a ‘dissident event’.

    The Bloody Sunday march for me as a Derry man became something more than just about those killings, it became a platform to highlight wider injustice, and this was supported by the opening of the platform to different causes over the years. There are still many injustices to be addressed and highlighted, so I see no reason for the march to end.

    The families have every right to commemorate the event as they see fit, and I would question the motives for those who find it acceptable to attack this march.

    As such I would call on everyone to support this march and not to fall prey to the complete trash that J Kelly seems happy to spout. If J Kelly wants to deal in facts then they can be debated and discussed, if he wants to tarnish this march with lies and propaganda then we have to question his motives.

  • boiler1888

    I am sure the organisers could have mustered one hundred signature, From family members..

  • balor

    Boiler I’m sure they could, but they don’t have to this isn’t a competition, it is how the failies of some of those murdered wish to remember their loved ones, and some of the wounded wish to highlight the ongoing injustice and lack of prosecutions. And they should be allowed to do this in a dignified manner without people like J Kelly spinning their tripe.

  • sliabhluachra

    Where do the Provos stand on this march?

  • sonofstrongbow

    Up a side street with a Tommy gun?

  • seamus60

    sliabhluachra

    Surely you mean SF.
    Well it wasn`t very long after Mc Guiness came out with the statement that an apoligy would have been suffice all those years ago.
    Hey presto he hardly had the words out of his mouth and look what appeared.
    This should be anticipated as the norm from now on as the ground has been set by Martins statement and reinforced by the more recent one from the secretary of state, where he makes it clear brit money will no longer fund any such inquiries.
    Martin will soon be asking is it the new school/Hospital or inquirey. Maybe he`ll leave that one to Peter.

  • seamus60

    Funny too how some of those objecting are doing it on the grounds that the march itself may be used as a political platform.
    They haven`t mentioned that before, at least since the families have had their private gathering earlier in the day of the annual march every year at the memorial for the same reason
    Why would it be differant now..

  • seamus60

    sonofstrongbow

    Up a side street with a Tommy gun?

    Actually in Duffys bookies and it were`nt no tommy gun

  • http://qub.academia.edu/PeterDoran Peter Doran

    An additional letter in the Derry Journal supported by over 100 relatives of the dead and injured on Bloody Sunday was drawn to my attention today. It is now referenced in the piece.

  • SteadyEddie

    The name of John Kelly (of the decommisioned Bloody Sunday Commitee) should be added to that long list of people who tried to deny the people of Derry the right of Derry people to march for justice in their own city.

    The muderous attack that day was not aimed at the people who were were actually shot per se It was an attack on the city, on the whole community. All of the people suffered that day, not just the dead, the wounded or their families.

    The people of Derry should have been asked for their views. But that might not have suited the powers that be in SF and cost John his chance of the equivalent of an irish OBE or MBE ie a handy ‘community job’.

    I can perfectly understand that John is happy with the result and so has come to the end of the Bloody Sunday Road.

    Why would should he be so annoyed that others are not happy. He could at least wish them well if not turn out for the march himself?

  • seamus60

    Lets not forget some of the background to another prominent spokesman who has been lamblasting those who wish to highlight injustice.
    On being charged with membership and other offences some years after Bloody Sunday in which his father was one of those murdered. He went against the grain in recognising the court aided with the assistance of referances from both John Hume and Bishop Daly who affirmed he had only become involved because of the events of Bloody Sunday and was in no way a republican.
    On receipt of a fairly leniant sentence he then proceeded to inform the leadership inside that he was under orders from Mc Guiness not to take part in any protests etc as it was important he was out asap in order to take up his role within the Bloody Sunday committee.
    Many of those who heard this openly called him a dodger etc. But sure enough it transpired as implied earlier.
    Within a hair of getting out he was the SF man on the inside.
    He now has the cheek to ask where people wanting to continue to march get the moral authority and mandate.
    Many of them will be ex prisoners who ended up in prison as a direct consequence of Blood Sunday, most having spent many years in conditions worse than he can relate to .
    How many older people also under fire there on the day spent the following decades visiting either prisons or cemeteries to visit loved ones as a direct result of that murderious day.
    Many of these same people fighting the injustice that follows them as ex prisoners in terms of employment or travel.
    Thats right neither of the above are relevant to these spokesmen.

  • BluesJazz

    No-one was ‘murdered’ that day in Londonderry. Official.
    Some people may feel they were, like the ‘innocent victims” at Loughall, but that’s not the way the cookie crumbled.

    That’s the way it is, that’s the way it’s gonna be, for every event involving people suffering in our little pixel of Earth.,

  • galloglaigh

    You were saying something relevant to Peter’s thread?

    I don’t know: You tell me?

  • galloglaigh

    And by the way Mick, just after reading through that again, my comments above show how man playing is good for some, but bad for others. John Kelly’s name is being dragged through the thorn bushes and not a peep. But when I compare apples with oranges; Pat Finucane and Jim Allister, comments are pulled and cards are dished out…

    It has a familiar ring to it… You must agree?

  • galloglaigh

    BluesJazz

    What’s the difference between murdering someone and killing them?

  • J Kelly

    balor
    i have been on this site for years and mick can confirm this i have never attempted to be anyone.

    peter doran
    its strange that the letter from the relatives and wounded had to be pointed out to you as it was on the same page as the letter you refernced extensively from jim keys,

  • sliabhluachra

    Are there any plans to bring to “justice” those who carried out the attack on Bloody Sunday? Certainly, had the protesters been Jewish athletes…..

  • derrydave

    There are obviously strong opinions and feelings on both sides of this ‘arguement’. Personally I agree with the families who have decided that last years march should be the last one. In saying that, those who wish to continue have every right to do so. The fact is however that the numbers marching will grow smaller and smaller and eventually the march will stop anyway due to apathy more than anything else. Looking at the numbers who have attended the march over the years it is clear that this process was well under way anyway. The majority of people I know from the city either (1) are too young to really care any more, or (2) are happy enough with the outcome (i.e. apology from British Government).
    No soldier will ever be convicted or jailed for the part they played in what was quite blatant murder on the streets of Derry. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of this, marching every year will not change this in any way. Those who want to continue with the march are really just opening themselves up to dissapointment and dissillusionment. I think that it’s time for the city to move on – full justice has been denied to the families, however this is the case for thousands of others in the North including the family of Mary Travers (a subject discussed here quite recently). Our peace here is an imperfect one, however the search for justice for everyone who suffered in the troubles is simply not something which is ever going to yield any results. Put simply, it’s time to look to the future and see what we can do to ensure our society is one which provides opportunities for a good life for our children and grandchildren.

  • http://garibaldy.wordpress.com Garibaldy
  • SteadyEddie

    Derrydave said
    “Those who want to continue with the march are really just opening themselves up to dissapointment and dissillusionment”.

    I remember being told in 1992 that we would never get an enquiry

    Derrydave said also
    “Put simply, it’s time to look to the future and see what we can do to ensure our society is one which provides opportunities for a good life for our children and grandchildren”.

    Most of the people who make this type of remark never had a relative murdered or they have been involved in murder themselves

  • sliabhluachra

    Derrydave: Do you think the main perpetrators should face war crimes trials? How many body bags does it take to make a war criminal?

  • derrydave

    SteadyEddie, you’re right that most people who say this stuff have not had a relative murdered and I haven’t had a close relative murdered. (will not even go near the other implication). This fact doesn’t however invalidate my viewpoint and I believe firmly that my position is the correct one for the good of all our society. Both my parents attended the march in 1972, along with most of my aunties & uncles – many of them were affected deeply by the events and a few had their lives changed massively. I’d never claim to understand how the families feel or how even some of my own family feel, however I can only voice my opinion that we should now move on. If we allowed victims to dictate societys approach to dealing with past crimes then we would be mired in this shit for the forseeable – this in my opinion is a harsh but true fact.

    Sliabhuachra – I’m a republican and have attended numerous Bloody Sunday marches over the years. Should soldiers who murdered innocent people on the streets of Derry be made to face up to their crimes in court ? Yes. Will they ? No.

    Re your War Criminals question – all I know is that what NI went though over the last 40 years was an extremely dirty war. We all have differing opinions on what exactly went on – we can argue about it for the next 40 years or we can move on.

  • sliabhluachra

    Derrydave: If a few soldiers and their wives were strung up, it would help me move on. The Italians are still arresting Gemran soldiers from WW2, not that the Italians had the cleanest hands in the abattoir.

  • derrydave

    I know where you’re coming from Sliabhluachra, however what’s good for you is not necessarily what’s good for society.

  • sliabhluachra

    The sister of the one of the soldiers kiled at Mazarene would tend to disagree. She wants all of those involved in the attack locked up for a long time.
    Though “I know where you’re coming from derrydave, however what’s good for you is not necessarily what’s good for society”.
    The issue now with Bloody Sunday and well I remember it (I was at the burning of the Embassy) is the same behaviour carries on today. British and American soldiers and, more importantly, officers, should be held to account.

  • seamus60

    Derrydave. So all the politicians who have recently signed up to a victims review programme are wasting their and societys time.
    How do we move on then ?

  • derrydave

    Yes Seamus, they are. Most of them are well aware of the fact too, but rather dishonestly going along with the whole charade.
    How do we move on ? Most people already have. As distasteful as it sounds, some people just haven’t got with the program yet – justice isn’t going to be achieved for most. Jobs, economy, health-services, careers, mortgages, education, infrastructure – that’s how we move on.

  • derrydave

    Sliabhluchra, the issue with Bloody sunday is NOT that these things still happen – that’s not why people want to continue to march every year. They want to continue to march every year in the mistaken belief that they are going to get some form of justice. Aint gonnae happen. Instead they are going to suffer dissapointment and dissillusionment as the crowds dwindle and it becomes (sadly) apparant that everyone has moved on and there is no more desire within the city to continue this march. I’ll be very surprised if this march lasts another 3 years. Do you know many people in Derry who intend to keep marching ? I don’t.

  • seamus60

    Derrydave. Do you believe the bulk of the families have given up the fight for justice because they aren`t prepared to march anymore.
    If so Mc Guiness was right then in saying an apoligy is all it would have taken all those years ago.
    Why spend all that money then on something that was going to fall well short of justice and who authorised Mc Guiness to give that statement so late in the day.
    Hope we did`nt have a kitchen cabinet lurking in the background.

  • Limerick

    Derrydave: If a few soldiers and their wives were strung up, it would help me move on.

    Is open support for the murder of soliders and their families regarded as fair comment on this site?

  • balor

    J Kelly, you may not be claiming to be anyone but you were still spinning a load of rubbish.

  • seamus60

    Balor there could be a few J Kelly`s who ended up with the community job payoff.

  • SteadyEddie

    Derrydave
    “If we allowed victims to dictate societys approach to dealing with past crimes then we would be mired in this shit for themm forseeable – this in my opinion is a harsh but true fact”.

    If we dont go after those who committed wholesale slaughter then we are inviting them or people like them to do the same again, harsh but horrible true fact

  • Mark

    The politics of memory …. that’s a new one . If we were to speak in personal terms , how can someone else tell you what your memories are , that’s like telling someone how they feel …. aand that;s half the problem . people telling other people how they should remember and what they should feel . I don’t know the nitty gritty of the agrument but if continuing the march gives some kind of solace to any of the remaining victims , the march should continue imo ….

    There was an ex para on the tv recently who claimed that the British Army lost more soldiers to suicide in the aftermath of the Falklands than did in the conflict itself ( 250 odd in the war ? ). And those guys would have access to all the aftercare / shrinks etc that the MOD could afford …. makes you think .

  • derrydave

    Limerick – that quote is not mine.
    Seamus – the families have spoken on this matter themselves and so I’m not going to add anything further. I can only give my opinion. Most people I know would certainly have been looking for prosecutions over the years. Most now accept however that this is not going to happen.
    SteadyEddie – how many voted for the GFA ? Inherent in this ,surely, was an acceptance that justice as such would be denied to most – how else do we describe the emptying of the prisons ? The failure to seek prosecutions in most cases for ‘unsolved crimes’ is I believe the logical next step and an unwritten piece of the agreement. I don’t believe that this encourages people to do the same again – if so, why then is it not happening ?
    Mark – agree, if people want to continue marching they have every right to do so. I just don’t believe anything will be achieved by it, and that the march will fade out through apathy in a few years anyway.

  • FuturePhysicist

    There probably would be a good significance to stop the march at 39 years … 39 nanoseconds of the lies of Widgery was 39 nanoseconds too much. The marches achieved their goal, they should be honoured of course, remembered of course … but the time to protest must be over.

  • SteadyEddie

    Derrydave said
    “how many voted for the GFA ? Inherent in this ,surely, was an acceptance that justice as such would be denied to most – how else do we describe the emptying of the prisons ? ”

    The released prisoners had been subject to due process albeit a dubious process and found guilty etc. I voted in favour of the GFA, had I been informed that it was part of the GFA or even inherent in anyway in the Agreement that the Para’s would not be prosecuted for the Bloody Sunday murder’s, I would not have voted for the GFA. Are you saying the people were hoodwinked on this issue?

    Derrydave
    “The failure to seek prosecutions in most cases for ‘unsolved crimes’ is I believe the logical next step and an unwritten piece of the agreement.”

    So it was unwritten, we were supposed to be mind readers, we were hoodwinked. Why do Republicans live in fear of being prosecuted and convicted for past deeds ie Gerry McGeough, or worse, put in jail without due process as is now happening on a regular basis? Why does the “logical next step” apply’s to the Para’s but not to them?

    Derrydave also said
    “I don’t believe that this encourages people to do the same again [ie murder as in Bloody Sunday] – if so, why then is it not happening ?”

    It did happen again, 4 / 6 months after Widgery Report /Bloody Sunday in Ballymurphy, the Para’s murdered continuously throughout the conflict here and went on to do so in the Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan etc

    “No prosecutions” is for the protection of those at the highest levels who organised and directed the murders be they on the British side or Irish side. And that is why some on the Irish side, never mind the British side, want Bloody Sunday to go away. Prosecutions re Bloody Sunday might provoke prosecutions re Bloody Friday

  • derrydave

    I know what yer saying Eddie, but this is an imperfect peace – look out for the numbers who march over the next few years and you will find that the people of Derry have spoken. Bloody Sunday is but another historical event to the majority in the city now.