On this the 44th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday Massacre I would take this opportunity to call on all those supportive of justice to attend this years Annual March for Justice of which I am Chief Steward. The people of this island and my home city Derry have never been found wanting when injustice in any guise needs challenged.
44 years ago thousands of people including myself took the streets of Derry to send a clear message to those in Whitehall that inequality and injustice would not be tolerated. This clarion call was met with indiscriminate mass murder on the streets of Derry when the Parachute regiment entered the Bogside and murdered civil rights protesters on the day that became known as Bloody Sunday. The wound inflicted on Derry on that day has never fully healed despite there being sticking plaster attempts. For many families the only remedy for what happened that day will be to see those responsible held to account for their actions.
Decades on and five years after the Bloody Sunday Inquiry the most progress made in terms of a legal challenge has been made by the suspects in the case. Suspects who through a High Court challenge in London have been allowed to the dictate the terms and conditions of their arrest and questioning on the basis of security. Prior to this the PSNI who have been investigating the Bloody Sunday Murders at a snail's pace gave assurances to the suspects that they would not be arrested in advance of their challenge. This not only sets a dangerous precedent but raises the question as to where else in the world this would be allowed to happen.
From Bloody Sunday to Ballymurphy, to the victims of state agents such as Stakenife and Mark Haddock, the state cannot shirk it's responsibilities as unlike paramilitary groups we should be able to hold the state to account. Proposals to deal with the past outlined in the Stormont House Agreement clearly indicated that attempts were being made to cover up the States role in the troubles via a national security veto. Had it not have been for the efforts of a small group of people from Derry and Belfast this abhorrent legislation which has since been shelved would have been pushed through the back door of Westminster by our politicians in Stormont.
For their efforts these campaigners including myself faced ridicule from so called campaigners, victims groups and politicians, many of whom have since been found back-pedalling. Their actions bring to mind the words that Thomas Kinsella used in the poem Butcher's dozen penned about the Bloody Sunday Massacre:
The shame is theirs, in word and deed, who prate of justice, practice greed, and act in ignorant fury-then, officers and gentlemen.
In closing I would call on everyone to attend this years March for Justice if only to send a further clarion call that inequality and injustice are still unacceptable.