Saturday, November 29, 2014

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Bloody Sunday Unity

Vincent Coyle with a letter which featured in the Derry Journal on 28 November 2014.

In July of this year I invited the Bloody Sunday Trust to a public meeting which was attended by local residents and members of the wider community. The meeting was held in the Pilots Row Community Centre. The purpose of the meeting was for local people to seek clarity on elements of plans to redevelop the Museum of Free Derry.  Subsequently a small delegation which included myself  met with members of the Bloody Sunday Trust on August in Davinci's Hotel.  

At that meeting the Bloody Sunday Trust agreed that all interested parties would be kept informed of plans and assured us that they had no plans to include a memorial garden in the Bogside inclusive of British State Forces, as this question had been raised during the public meeting in July. Having received no further correspondence from the Bloody Sunday Trust, I obtained information via Freedom of Information and later found that plans for a memorial garden had indeed been the subject of ongoing discussion up until last year. 

At an event hosted by the Hollywell Trust in September a Bloody Sunday family member questioned  plans to include a Memorial Plaza as part of the redevelopment.  Documents obtained from the Housing  Executive via Freedom of Information show a section of the plans outlining a proposed memorial Plaza as part of a land acquisition request which had been submitted to the Housing Executive on July 21st of this year. 

I would ask the BST to categorically refute rumours that a planned memorial would include British forces. 

A contentious issue for local residents over the redevelopment was the failure of the BST to include the local shop into their plans. Since then I have been informed by the local shop-owner that both he and the Bloody Sunday Trust are involved in negotiations to ensure an amicable agreement is reached.

It is a matter of public record that I have always been a keen supporter of the Museum of Free Derry , National Archive for Civil Rights and the Campaign for Justice with myself and my late father having been stewards on the march in 1972.  I have however been vocal with my deep reservations over plans to realign the pram ramp at Glenfada Park. It must be noted that this move is purely for cosmetic purposes as it is not integral to the redevelopment of the museum. 

The ramp at Glenfada Park for some may be a mere impediment to development but for others this ramp has huge historical and evidential significance. This ramp shielded civilians from the murderous sights of the parachute regiment on Bloody Sunday. It was from this spot that Alex Nash fled safety and was gunned down whilst running to the aid of  his son William who lay fatally wounded.  Primarily this ramp is part of a crime scene in a live, albeit scaled back, murder investigation.

Lord Saville may have carried out a thorough analysis of the area in his inquiries however I suspect the PSNI may want to carry out their own investigation or indeed test the veracity of Saville's conclusions. As is the case with the call for fresh witness statements despite the availability of statements from the Saville inquiry. With these factors in mind I would strongly argue the need to preserve the integrity of what is essentially a crime scene. Whilst there have been significant changes in the Bogside over the years these changes were made before there was any semblance of a proper police investigation into the Bloody Sunday murders.  

Finally I would take this opportunity to urge everyone attend this year's annual March for Justice. I totally respect the views of families who chose to stop marching in 2011 but with the recent announcement to scale back on the police investigation I believe this year it is incumbent on us all to show unity of purpose in demanding a full police investigation and an end to political interference in this matter.

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