Friday, August 8, 2014

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No Plan to Construct a Memorial Garden to Include British Soldiers in the Bogside

Robin Percival responds to a recent feature on TPQ in which he challenges some of the claims made by the interviewees during the course of a Radio Free Eireann interview. Robin Percival is the Vice Chairperson of the Bloody Sunday Trust/Museum of Free Derry.  
 

As Vice Chair of the Bloody Sunday Trust/Museum of Free Derry I wish to correct some of the factual inaccuracies contained in this interview.

There never was a plan to construct a memorial garden to include British soldiers in the Bogside. Four years ago there was a brief discussion within the Trust about a Peace Garden. It went no further. Nor are there any plans to construct a memorial to include British soldiers now or in the future. The focus of the BST is about civilians killed by the state. Currently we are one of the initiators of the hugely successful campaign (In Their Steps / Set the Truth Free) which has been mounted in Dublin, Derry and Belfast and which hopefully will shortly go to London. This has included the active support of several hundred families of those killed by either the British Army or the RUC, throughout the North since 1969.


In her interview Kate Nash refers to someone who “works in the Museum”. This is John Kelly, brother of Michael Kelly who was murdered on Bloody Sunday. He is the Museum's education officer. Another of our three employees is Jean Hegarty, the sister of Kevin McElhinney, who was also murdered on Bloody Sunday. She is currently acting as Secretary and Administrator for the Trust. Julieann Campbell, the niece of Jackie Duddy, the first person murdered on Bloody Sunday, is the Chair of the Trust. She is also the author of the award winning book Setting the Truth Free: The Inside Story of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign. Two other family members are Trustees. (The Trust hopes shortly to have a representative of one of the families of the wounded on its Board).
 
The Trust has no connection with any political party, unless you count the Sinn Féin MLA who is a member and who, by the way, was a close relative of Jim Wray, murdered on Bloody Sunday. An SDLP councillor is also a member. Other Trustees include a daughter of Sammy Devenny murdered by the RUC in 1969, and a daughter of Kathleen Thompson murdered by a British soldier in 1971. Readers might also like to know that well over one hundred Bloody Sunday family members have publicly endorsed the work and role of the Trust and MoFD.

The Trust has not been given money by Arlene Foster (Here I must protest at the attempt to introduce an element of sectarianism into this). The new extension of the MoFD is being funded by the NI Tourist Board, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Department of Social Development. As Minister responsible for Tourism Mrs Foster had to sign off on a large part of the allocation which she eventually did, but not until after lengthy delays had created enormous problems for the Trust and the Museum.

Vincent Coyle says he will die rather than allow a particular ramp to be knocked down. Well, of course, he is free to do that, though I would have thought there were far more important issues to get worked up about than a concrete ramp which has already been significantly altered (without protest) from the ramp standing on 30th January 1972. But it is not true that the plans which currently involve the replacement of the ramp represent a change. When the MoFD published the plans back in 2010, the intention to demolish and replace the ramp in a different position were there for public view. These plans were presented at a public meeting and individually the Trust surveyed the families who lived in the area, and also had the images on public display for the last four years.

The Museum of Free Derry, in my view, represents the most significant attempt by any community in Ireland to preserve its history and to inform a wider public of the truth of what happened to it during the early years of the recent conflict. It has important links to liberation and civil rights museums throughout the world. It should be supported.

8 comments :

marty said...

I had to go read Kate Nash,s interview before I could get my head around this, now to read Robin Percivals response one would be forgiven to believe that there was a massive misunderstanding and really all are on the same boat ie community cohesion ie one for all and all that.
or a cynic might say there is either a serious bit of backpeddling or bullshit spreading going on here,Once I noticed that large sums of money were up for grabs then the penny dropped its the oldest trick in the book spread some filthy lucre and the piper calls the tune a garden of remembrance incorporating brit soldiers would be a fucking insult to the memory of not only those who died on that fateful day but also the hundreds who survived and were traumatised ,the people running the Bloody Sunday Trust should hand back that money if there is any such conditions attached,if quisling $inn £eind are anywhere near they,ll have it faster than Adams can say no .

Pauline Mellon said...

I've just read Robin Percival's reply to the transcript of the interview of Kate Nash & Vincent Coyle on Radio Free Eireann. As someone who was at the public meeting about this issue and having read the transcript of the interview I feel Robin's reply lacks substance and seems to be an exercise in constructive ambiguity.

In Robin's article he states 'There never was a plan to construct a memorial garden to include British soldiers in the Bogside.' Four years ago there was a brief discussion within the Trust about a Peace Garden. It went no further. Nor are there any plans to construct a memorial to include British soldiers now or in the future.

This would seem to contradict what the Museum of Free Derry Manager said at the public meeting held in Derry. “We have talked about this, in the future, to put some sort of memorial garden in the green space behind. What that will take and who it will cover and funding, we are not even close to that point. There's an idea for a memorial garden that's as far as the idea is.”

Robin was two seats away from him in the public meeting, and neither he as vice chair of the Bloody Sunday Trust or the chairperson of the Trust once challenged the statement above. There was ample opportunity on the night. Also on the subject of employee's of the museum Robin seems to take issue with how Kate Nash stated she spoke to a person who “works in the Museum.” It would seem his issue is with the fact that she didn't mention it was John Kelly whose brother was murdered on Bloody Sunday, by the same token, Robin failed to mention that Kate Nash is a relative of two Bloody Sunday victims. As Kate's brother lay fatally wounded on Bloody Sunday a British Paratrooper attempted to murder her father as he heroically went to the aid of his son and was seriously wounded in the process.

For reasons only known to himself Robin attempts to drag the reasons for people's concerns about elements of the proposed development to a sectarian level.

From the transcript of the radio interview it is evident that Kate's reference to the DUP's Arlene Foster is in relation to her role as Minister for tourism. As Robin states “As Minister responsible for Tourism Mrs Foster had to sign off on a large part of the allocation which she eventually did'. If Kate was attempting to bring a sectarian element into it would she not also have mentioned that the Dept for Social Development another DUP helmed Stormont department also provided funds? Kate Nash actually declares her hand in reference to the funding in that she clearly states 'I'm not very up on these things '.

If it had been a Sinn Fein Stormont Minister had rubber stamped the funds, what label would Robin had used? Would he have tried to imply there was a dissident element?

In relation to the removal of the ramp Robin stated 'But it is not true that the plans which currently involve the replacement of the ramp represent a change.' A publicity picture published in the Derry Journal in 2010 would contradict this. Furthermore Robin states that the ramp has been significantly altered without protest since Bloody Sunday. I would contest that cosmetic changes are a world apart from the complete removal of the ramp and I'm sure Robin would agree.

Finally I feel Robin's comments in respect of support for the Bloody Sunday Trust are somewhat disingenuous, no one has said they do not support the Bloody Sunday Trust, No one has said they do not support an expansion to the Museum of Free Derry, what people are saying is that there are elements of the design they disagree with, and again I'm sure anyone looking objectively would quite clearly see that.

marty said...

If it was only a design or an element of a design that people disagreed with then it would indeed be a minor problem,what appears to be going on here from all accounts is much deeper ,it seems to be about control and once in complete control then the BST would have a free hand to implement all and any changes that will bring in more money and at the end of the day its all about money,what the original foundation of the museum was about ie,Blood murder on BLOODY SUNDAY will soon fade into oblivion when the BST reconstruct the museum into a "peace and reconciliation center"where have I heard that before? why else would the DUP hand over money no matter how reluctantly if it did suit their agenda and one thing for certain is they like the brits want the memory of what happened erased asap, and it also suits Quisling $inn £eind because that day was the best recruiting sergeant they ever had and that shower of quislings are trying to ditch the past,looks to me that dark forces are lining up to once again divide the families of Bloody Sunday and Kate and co will again be on the receiving end of some nasty propaganda from the usual suspects and their new found friends,

Mary Quigley said...

Shameless PS/F. Can't believe that is is all about money, we all know what happened Bloody Sunday and the world know the truth, exploration of the dead in my opinion.

Mary Quigley said...

Ps, Kate & Linda Nash are the most truthful honest decent women I know, ( women of courage with respect ) What they do for humanity is fight through peaceful means, justice & accountability . Civil rights is about the rights to life, how dare anyone create jobs over lost lives. Shame on those who use the dead £££££€€€€€$$$$

Snowtorch said...

Curiouser and curiouser... wish I hadn't gone down that rabbit-hole.

Maybe Robin would care to clarify was he not one of the Sinn Fein thinktank a.k.a. Padraig Pearse Cumman? This is prior to him being chair of the pat finucane centre in Derry and a member of the parades commission.

Maybe Robin could even post a list of the members of the Bloody Sunday Trust online, can't seem to find it published on their website.

Snowtorch said...

'As Vice Chair of the Bloody Sunday Trust/Museum of Free Derry I wish to correct some of the factual inaccuracies contained in this interview.'

So said Robin Percival, Hey Robin, here's a great idea, why don't you come clean on this memorial garden, and correct some of the factual inaccuracies in your statement?

When can we expect you to write again for TPQ? I'm in need of a good laugh.

And a wee hint Robin, never commit yourself to something in print when the minutes of meetings you've been at prove otherwise.

Just makes me wonder if as vice chair of the Bloody Sunday Trust you're making this big of a balls up, just what's going on in Casa Del Finucane are families being let down as the Bloody Sunday families are? And hey feel free to wreck the parades commission.

To paraphrase the immortal words of Del Boy, 'ROBIN' - YOU PLONKER!

Snowtorch said...

AM if that's abuse 'You Plonker' then i would suggest you read back over various other threads on TPQ.

What I would suggest is if you're concerned about abuse you now challenge Robin over the lie in his statement published on TPQ.

I look forward to your challenge to Robin.