Andersonstown News 10/08/10
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The aftermath of the publication of the Saville Enquiry was like “a collective wedding in Derry”, according to relatives of the Bloody Sunday victims.
John Kelly, who lost his 17-year-old brother Michael in the atrocity, and Tony Doherty, who lost his father Patrick, spoke at St Mary’s University College on Thursday during Féile an Phobail’s ‘Bloody Sunday After Saville’ discussion. The pair shared their thoughts and experiences of June 15, when their loved ones were finally exonerated, on what’s next for the Bloody Sunday families now that the dust has settled, and what advice they have for the Ballymurphy Massacre families in their quest for justice.
“It [publication of Saville] was an important day for us, the best day of my life,” said Tony. “None of us knew what was going to be in the report or what Cameron [British Prime Minister David] was going to say when we made our way to the Guildhall. At 3 o’clock just before he [Cameron] spoke, two of us were given a strong hint that we were going to like what he was going to say. And when he did make his speech it brought the entire floor of the Guildhall to tears – politicians, families, lawyers, everyone. When he apologised, the words, the profound manner in which they were delivered, came as a complete shock. No one expects that from a Tory Prime Minister, especially when it comes to Ireland.”
John Kelly spoke of how the night before Saville’s publication none of the families could get any sleep.
“You just did not know what to expect,” said John. “But within minutes of arriving at the Guildhall and seeing the solicitors reading the report I knew Michael had been declared innocent. Stepping out onto the platform afterwards in front of the crowd was one of the greatest moments of my life. What we achieved, it wasn’t just for me and the families, but for Ireland and the world, as a major injustice had been put right.”
Both men talked about the hostility the families encountered when they first began their campaign for justice on the 20th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in 1992.
“People had to get to know us in those days. For a lot of people, Bloody Sunday was identified as a republican issue and part of the republican propaganda war, so they took their cue from that,” said Tony. “We were escorted by Garda out of Phoenix Park and as far as the border when we protested against Mary Robinson for not meeting with us. “However, we were fortunate that we had a core group of people within the campaign that were determined to see this thing through no matter what.”
There was agreement between the Ballymurphy families in the audience and John and Tony that David Cameron was wrong to describe the Parachute Regiment’s actions in the Bogside that day as “a few soldiers who lost control”.
“I was angry at that, I found it insulting,” said one Ballymurphy relative. “I know for a fact that what happened [Ballymurphy] was as a result of orders from the top.”
“I agree that he was wrong,” said John. “The Paras were bussed in from Belfast to Derry for a reason. They’re not a police force, they’re a killing machine. We know for a fact that they were told in their barracks the night before ‘we want some kills tomorrow’. The Paras are too well disciplined to lose control. They knew what they were doing that day and that’s the same with Ballymurphy, they were sent in to kill.”
When asked if they both felt the Bloody Sunday families now had a responsibility to take their campaign as far as it could go on behalf of groups like the Ballymurphy families, both men had differing viewpoints.
“We certainly feel an allegiance to the Ballymurphy families and will provide support, but in my opinion people need to work out for themselves how to approach this matter and be realistic about what you get,” said Tony. “But I’m not interested in hunting people down for the rest of my days.”
“I do believe that the soldiers should be prosecuted,” said John. “They have got away with it and through Saville there’s a great chance to prosecute them. But I’m happy to hit the streets again and campaign as I believe that these people need to be brought to justice.”
Belfast Mural dedicated to the eleven people murdered by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment
What Can We Do to Support the Ballymurphy Families?
Sign the Petition in support of the families’ demands:
Distribute this information as widely as possible – in Trade Unions, Political Parties, Community Groups, friends & colleagues. Detailed leaflets about the massacre are available from the address below.
Write to David Cameron, Owen Paterson and your own MP to demand a full Independent, International, Investigation into the Ballymurphy killings – and encourage others to do so.
David Cameron, 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA email:[email protected] or on Form at https://email.number10.gov.uk/Contact.aspx
Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, NIO 11 Millbank, London SW1P 4PN Email: [email protected] or fill in form at http://www.nio.gov.uk/index/contact-us/enquiry-form.htm
Your own MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA www.writetothem.com