Fifty years after British soldiers killed 13 protesters, a march on Sunday honored the memory of the victims of “Bloody Sunday”, one of the darkest days in recent UK history.
It was “a massacre in our streets,” said Michael McKinney, whose brother was killed during a peaceful civil rights demonstration that ended in bloodshed on January 30, 1972, in Londonderry, Northern Ireland’s second city.
The parade, in which hundreds of people participated, with white roses and hoisting the portraits of the victims, passed by the monument that pays tribute to those who died on that “Bloody Sunday”.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin was the first leader of the Republic of Ireland to participate in the annual ceremony. Both he and his foreign minister, Simon Coveney, laid a bouquet of flowers at the foot of the memorial,
In the afternoon another demonstration was called, in the streets of Derry -a name that the inhabitants prefer, instead of the official name of Londonderry, which they see as a sign of British domination-, coinciding with the time in which the paratroopers of the first battalion opened fire on the Catholic demonstrators.
— U2 group pays tribute to victims —
U2 paid tribute to the victims on Sunday by posting an acoustic version of their famous “Sunday Bloody Sunday” on social media.
In the video, introduced with a sober message of “January 30, 2022 – With love, Bono & Edge”, Irishmen Bono, on vocals, and The Edge, on guitar, appear in black and white. The recording closes with some impressive images of the time.
They show Father Edward Daly shaking his bloodstained white handkerchief to clear the way for a group of people carrying John Duddy. The 17-year-old boxer, who did not survive, is considered to be the first “Bloody Sunday” deceased.
Then, the ‘Bloody Sunday’ (“Bloody Sunday”) pushed many young Republican Catholics to embrace the IRA (Irish Republican Army), a paramilitary group opposed to the British being present on the island of Ireland.
We had to wait until 1998, when the Good Friday peace agreement was signed, to end three decades of a conflict that left 3,500 dead.
The British Army claimed that the paratroopers returned fire from IRA “terrorists”, a version that would later support a hastily made report in the following weeks.
But, despite all the testimonies that contradicted that version, it was not until 2010 that the innocence of the victims was officially recognized, some of whom were shot in the back or even while on the ground, waving a white handkerchief.
– “Amnesty” –
After the longest investigation, of 12 years, and the most expensive that the United Kingdom has ever known (almost 200 million pounds sterling, about 240 million euros or 268 million dollars at current exchange rates), then Prime Minister David Cameron officially apologized for “unwarranted and unjustifiable” acts.
No soldiers were prosecuted for “Bloody Sunday.” The case that was opened against one of them was abandoned for legal reasons and the British government introduced a bill to end any case that could be opened related to the conflict, something that all the parties saw as an “amnesty”.
At the entrance to the Catholic Bogside, the slogan ‘No British Justice’ occupies the place that previously marked the entrance to ‘Free Derry’.
– Storm clouds on the horizon –
A few days ago, a paratroopers’ flag raised in a neighborhood loyal to the British crown in the city caused a stir, and was even discussed during a session in Parliament in London.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called “Bloody Sunday” a “tragic day” and one of “the darkest ever”.
In recent months, the consequences of Brexit have underlined the fragility of the balance established by the 1998 peace agreement.
The criticized customs provisions, intended to avoid the imposition of a land border with Ireland – but establishing a de facto maritime border with Britain – are currently being negotiated between London and Brussels.
They have also fueled community tensions.
The local elections in May are expected to be decisive for the delicate political balance established.
With a retreat from the Unionists (favorable to stay within the UK), a Republican victory seems likely.
Sinn Fein, once the political arm of the IRA, wants a referendum to be called within five years on the reunification of the island.