Connolly Association members visit Derry

by Democrat reporter

MEMBERS OF the Connolly Association visited Derry recently to take part in a march to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the Bloody Sunday massacre.

Charlie Cunningham had this to say about the trip:

"Visiting Derry to meet with the relatives of the dead, and the injured victims of Bloody Sunday, was a great pleasure. Last year many of them had spent time in London for the soul-destroying Saville Inquiry, and it was good to see them in better circumstances on home ground.

The spirit and generosity of the Derry people is unchanged. The Rossville flats are gone, replaced by much better housing, a symbol of the transformation since the dark days when the Unionists governed. New development can be seen everywhere; new housing, hotels, roads, a new bridge over the Foyle, and the new City of Derry airport. Across the nearby border, Donegal is as appealing as ever.

The organisers and Derry Council deserve the highest praise for the activities which marked the anniversary of Bloody Sunday. I have never seen Tony Benn, or an audience, look so happy as he did on the Friday night at the Calgarth Centre where he spoke. He recalled cabinet meetings, and how the Heath government had thought of abandoning the Unionists and ending partition. The moral of the story? "Never trust the Tories."

At the same venue on the Saturday night, there was a stimulating discussion forum. The audience heard views on the unresolved question: 'Would a Truth and Reconciliation Commission be benificial? The panel included Arlene Foster of the DUP, republican writer Danny Morrison, South African Brandon Humber, and Armagh social worker Reetha Hassan. Paul McFadden of Radio Foyle chaired the discussion.

New venues such as the Calgarth Centre and the Gasworks were very impressive, showing how Derry is capable of being a real cultural centre with imagination and verve.

The midday wrath laying ceremony took place under gloomy skies at the Bloody Sunday memorial. The march commenced at Creggan Heights, following the route of the first 'End Internement' civil rights march. As it began, the families leading the way, internationally known Derry politicians joined the tens of thousands to brave the worst weather of 32 years of commemorations. It was heartening for visitor such as ourselves to see the determination of the young people of Derry to remember the past and look to the future, in spite of the atrocious downpour.

At the final rally, thousands stood in the rain to hear Catherine Nash, sister of William Nash, remind us all of the continuing search for truth, with the hearing of 920 witnesses during the 400 days the Saville Inquiry sat.

A Matter of Minutes: The Enduring Legacy of Bloody Sunday by Joanne O'Brien, can be purchased at the Four Provinces Bookshop. The book provides an excellent insight into the families campaign.

Standing–room only at annual Bloody Sunday commemoration in London

CONWAY HALL in London played host to the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration on January 25th . A packed room heard speeches from Gerry Duddy of the Bloody Sunday families group, Damien Donaghy, who was the first person to be shot on Bloody Sunday, Sinn Féin West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff, and Labour MP John McDonnell.

McElduff told the meeting:

“Thirty-two years after the Bloody Sunday murders the failure of successive British political administrations to acknowledge the part played by the British military on the day has left relatives of the dead unable to bring this painful chapter to a close,” he said. “Nobody should underestimate the absolute need on the part of relatives to have the British Government acknowledge the truth of what happened in Derry on 30 January 1972.

“Sinn Féin’s commitment to the Bloody Sunday relatives remains unchanged. We will continue to assist the relatives of the dead in any way possible in their attempts to have the truth established.”

John McDonnell MP, a tireless campaigner for Ireland in the House of Commons, applauded the large turnout at the meeting, pointing out the importance of keeping the memory alive for the whole process of finding the truth, which it is hoped the Saville Inquiry will provide.

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2004-04-01 23:27:48.
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