Bloody Sunday families march ‘towards justice’

The Bloody Sunday families carried a banner with the slogan “towards justice” as they marched to Derry’s Guildhall today.

They completed a parade which was cut short in blood and chaos 47 years ago.

Today it ended with applause.

The demonstration on Bloody Sunday was about the withheld right to public procession in a Northern Ireland pockmarked by violence in 1972.

The quiet refrain of We Shall Overcome, a US Civil Rights anthem popularised by the folk singer Pete Seeger, echoed through silent residential streets as the families proceeded from the Bogside into the city centre.

Onlookers applauded from the sidelines amid the pouring rain.

Mickey McKinney’s oldest brother Willie was a fun-loving amateur photographer shot dead while he filmed the march.

Relatives march to the Guildhall (Niall Carson/PA)
Relatives march to the Guildhall (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr McKinney walked in the front line of families clutching a photo of his brother bearing the message “Justice for William McKinney”.

He has been in the front line of campaigning for answers for decades.

Mr McKinney said: “It is important to point out that justice for one family is justice for all of us.”

Soldier F is to be charged with murdering his brother and James Wray.

Mr Wray’s brother John, 57, said: “David Cameron said it was unjustified and, I am not a lawyer but unjustified homicide, there is a term for that – and it is murder.”

For years families of the dead faced the slur that their loved ones were engaged in violence.

A minute’s silence at the Guildhall (Niall Carson/PA)
A minute’s silence at the Guildhall (Niall Carson/PA)

In 2010 Lord Saville declared them innocent, prompting the former British prime minister’s famous “unjustified and unjustifiable” sound bite.

A gable wall near the marchers in the Bogside bore the message “The Peoples Army – IRA”.

Some believe the killings on Bloody Sunday helped catalyse the Provisional IRA’s campaign but it was a different people’s movement which has kept Bloody Sunday in the headlines.

The families walked from a museum dedicated to the events of the day.

It was a journey of minutes but, as prosecutors acknowledged, a “long road” towards the point of criminal proceedings.

Families embraced after the march (Niall Carson/PA)
Families embraced after the march (Niall Carson/PA)

The decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron was conveyed to the families at a city centre hotel.

Mr Herron said: “I am mindful that it has been a long road for the families to reach this point and today will be another extremely difficult day for many of them.”

Afterwards, relatives hugged and described the outcome as vindication mixed with disappointment.

The vow was to continue fighting for justice.

John Kelly’s brother Michael died aged 17. Soldier F will not be prosecuted in connection with his death.

He said: “The dead cannot cry out for justice, it is the duty of the living to do so for them.

“We have cried out for them for many years, and now we have succeeded for them.”

- Press Association

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