What was supposed to be the last ‘Bloody Sunday’ march was held at the weekend in Londonderry. It was an occasion when families of those who died will have a particular outlook and the original event was a tragedy for those who lost their lives but the wider community must never forget the comprehensive attempts being made by many others to re -write the history of the context for the original march.
Thankfully no -one was murdered and the deed virtually forgotten before the final bloody Sunday march, unlike on the parade in 1972 when two innocent police officers were gunned down just three days before that march took place.
For many years, some of us have questioned the wisdom of setting up the Saville Inquiry to investigate an incident which had happened 30 years previously. The fact that it cost nearly £200 million was both deplorable and scandalous.
Unfortunately, there are those who still try and ignore why troops were on the ground that day.
Still today the revisionists try to suggest that the violence which cursed Northern Ireland for some 30 years started with Bloody Sunday. They do so in an attempt
to confer some form of bogus legitimacy on the campaign of murder which preceded that day and continued long thereafter. The truth has to be told about the violence that engulfed our country for so long both before, and after, that day.
The truth is that murder, mayhem and terror were rife before 30 January 1972. In the two and a half years that preceded that day, over one hundred people were murdered across Northern Ireland. In the four weeks before that day in Londonderry alone, violence was carried out by the various factions of the IRA. There were nine separate bomb attacks on commercial and security force premises, six separate shooting incidents, including an 80-minute gun battle, and a number of gelignite and nail bomb attacks. Much of the city lay in ruins and no one needed a £200million Saville Report to tell us that.
Thankfully we have moved beyond the self defeating violence that brought heartache and misery to so many. Many of those who were active in perpetrating the violence of the past are equally active now in advocating a peaceful future. Those like Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams could do so much more if they were to admit their participation in the wrecking of so many lives (whose relatives didn’t get an Inquiry) and then ensure that those who today are repeating those same mistakes are brought before the Courts and punished.
That would help secure the future on a much more sustainable basis.