Monday, January 31, 2011

Bloody Sunday "Bringing the Truth to Light"

Bloody Sunday "Bringing the Truth to Light"
Derry Journal – 31 January 2011

A captivated audience gathered at Derry's Guildhall on Friday evening for a special celebration evening chronicling the achievements of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign, entitled 'Bringing the Truth to Light'.

Panels featuring relatives, campaigners, lawyers and prominent politicians discussed the campaign, from its humble beginnings in 1992 until the elation felt during the release of Saville's report into the massacre on June 15 last year. The audience consisted of fellow campaigners, relatives, local people and many visitors to the city. A rapturous applause greeted celebrated local playwright Dave Duggan, who had attended despite recovering from recent illness.

Introduced by Colm Barton of the Bloody Sunday Trust, the event was then opened by some words of welcome and commendation by Mayor Colum Eastwood. A recital of Seamus Heaney's poem 'The Road to Derry' followed.

Relative and campaigner Tony Doherty and journalist Paul McFadden hosted the in-depth, informal discussion. Each panel of three guests was followed by a songs and poetry related to the events of Bloody Sunday.

Discussing the history of Bloody Sunday, Widgery's 'whitewash' and the early commemorations were local politician Mitchel McLaughlin, Paul O'Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre and Gerry Duddy, brother of Jackie Duddy. Next to take up the discussion was highly respected solicitor Patricia Coyle, relative Kay Duddy and campaigner Eamonn McCann. Patricia Coyle spoke of the significant evidence unearthed in the early 1990s at the Public Records Office in Kew Gardens, evidence that bolstered the urgency for a new investigation or inquiry into Bloody Sunday.

The third section of the discussion featured the recollections of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who spent years trying to secure a new Inquiry as part of the delicate Peace process, Jane Winters, campaigner and founding member of the Bloody Sunday Trust and Don Mullan, author of the bestselling 'Eyewitness Bloody Sunday'.
Speaking of the importance of a new investigation into the killings, Martin McGuinness described the previous 1972 tribunal by Lord Widgery as "a bucketful of lies."

The final and most emotive panel featured Geraldine Doherty, niece of Gerald Donaghey, Conal McFeely of the Bloody Sunday Trust and Sinn Fein MLA and fellow BST member Raymond McCartney. Geraldine Doherty spoke of the disappointment felt on June 15 last year when Saville ruled that, although deemed innocent alongside all the other victims, Donaghey "probably" had nail bombs on his person when he was shot on Bloody Sunday. Geraldine's mother, ardent campaigner Mary Doherty, passed away just months after the publication of the Saville Report without seeing Gerald's name cleared.

To close proceedings, a specially prepared film was screened capturing the momentous events of June 15 last year in Derry. Many left the Guildhall's main hall amid tears and hugs. Indeed, this event was a well-deserved celebration of all that these campaigners had collectively achieved.

The only comment necessary is “at long last the innocent victims have been vindicated” and their families who tenaciously fought for justice for their loved ones over nearly four decades have finally achieved their goal. Perhaps now the innocents can finally rest in peace.

Jack Meehan, Past National President

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

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