Calls for peace, justice, reconciliation in Derry on 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday
by Kellie BANCALARI
30 January 2022
Thousands gathered Sunday morning to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Derry. Among the crowd were family members of the 14 victims who were killed as a direct result of the British Parachute Regiment firing on a civil rights march in the Bogside on 30 January 1972.
The commemoration started with bereaved family members leading the crowd of around a thousand to retrace the route that the civil rights marchers walked on that infamous day. As the crowd slowly made their way through the streets, neighbours could be seen from their windows and balconies watching the crowd go by.
Eventually, after meandering through the streets of the Bogside, the crowd settled in front of the Bloody Sunday monument, where the families and friends of the victims laid wreaths to honour the dead and living wounded. Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald, and Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry were among the political leaders there to pay their respects.
Justice was a common theme of speakers at the memorial site. Mickey McKinney, brother to William McKinney who was killed aged 27 on Bloody Sunday, spoke on behalf of the Bloody Sunday families. He outlined the campaign for justice that had been ongoing for these families since the death of their loved ones.
With the recent news of plans for the British government to halt all Troubles-related prosecutions, McKinney criticised this proposal in his speech to the crowd: “They are trying to deny us justice, because they are scared to face justice, but we send a very clear warning to the British Government, if they pursue their proposals, the Bloody Sunday families will be ready to meet them head on. We will not go away and we will not be silenced.”
Justice was also discussed by Dr Sameh Hassan at the memorial in Glenfada Park. He said that since Bloody Sunday, justice had not been served in places like Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq, arguing, “If justice is not achieved swiftly, the oppressors will keep doing the same again and again. Simply because they know they will get away with it.”
Hassan added, “It’s important that all of us in this city and beyond come together — regardless of faith, race, or background — to stand as one party with the families of the Bloody Sunday victims to achieve the justice you have impressively been fighting for 50 years. While doing this, let’s keep in mind that peace is the only way forward.”
Presbyterian minister Dr David Latimer also addressed the crowd, acknowledging both the trauma and resilience of the bereaved. He ended his speech looking toward the future for Northern Ireland: “Having emerged from a dark and painful past, we now know that while we might survive on our own, there is no way under the sun we’d ever win and make progress without each other. Never again do we want to live through the oppression of one tradition by the other.”
Dr Latimer continued, “The time has come for all of us — Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, young, old, abled-bodied, disabled, gay, and straight — to assemble around the anvil of change to hammer and to hone not a shared out future, but a sensitively shared future that will progressively become the envy of the world.”