© Reuters. Kevin McDaid holds photographs of Michael McDaid, his brother, who were shot to death by British paratroopers at “Bloody Sunday”, just before the 50th anniversary celebrations of “Bloody Sunday,” which took place in Londonderry (Northern Ireland), Janu
LONDONDERRY, (Reuters) – Five decades ago British soldiers murdered 13 Catholic civil rights marchers in one of the defining moments of the Northern Ireland conflict. Families are still looking for justice that will allow a society scarred to heal.
Families and friends of the 13 Catholics who were killed in Londonderry at the hands of the “Bloody Sunday” on January 30, 1972, as well as a fourteenth victim who succumbed to his injuries later in life, met this week for an assortment of memorials.
Although a 2010 judicial inquiry determined that the victims were innocent and did not pose a threat, these commemorations came just months after British soldiers were charged with murder.
“Our generation is slowly dying… we want to see them thrive.” [justice]Jean Hegarty said that her brother Kevin McElhinney, who was 17 years old when he was killed in a gunshot accident, would be alive if he were still alive. She believes in legal action for the soldier’s trial.
Her response was “My heart wouldn’t believe it, but I would like to think that at least some soldiers can face a judge,” she stated.
The 1998 Peace Process in Northern Ireland has received worldwide praise for ending the conflict that saw more than 3000 deaths.
Irish nationalist militants seeking unification in the Republic of Ireland met with British Army soldiers and loyalists determined not to lose the province.
The bitterness persists nearly 25 years after peace.
In preparation for the annual commemorations, flags belonging to the British Army’s Parachute Regiment (whose soldiers shot protestors) were placed on lampposts in the city. It condemned the incident.
One of the most prominent members of Northern Ireland’s pro British Democratic Unionist Party lamented that while there had been “numbers” written about Bloody Sunday, very little was said about the deaths in action of two soldiers killed by Irish militants just a few days before.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA), responsible for roughly half the casualties in the conflict, but nationalists say the violence was triggered by a repressive regime that denies them their rights – rarely more so than Bloody Sunday.
Hegarty said that he was disappointed at the political belligerence. In some ways, there have not been many changes. There have been tons of changes in some areas.
The weekend of commemorations includes a memorial ceremony on Londonderry’s main street and a play about a famous picture that shows Edward Daly, a priest holding up a white handkerchief in front of British soldiers when he attempted to transport a dead man to safety.
Kieran Griffiths who was close to the family, said that all of the play’s performances will be by local residents in a place where January 30 still retains “real deep sentimentality”.
Gleann, the daughter of Patrick, says that relatives are getting more closure than those who suffered from the conflict. In 2010, David Cameron, Britain’s former Prime Minister apologized for “unjustified” and “unjustifiable deaths.”
In an attempt to put an end to the ongoing conflict, the current British government proposed last year to stop any prosecutions of militants and soldiers. It angered many relatives. The move was also rejected by the major political parties in the area.
Doherty said, “We are sort of one the fortunate – if it can be called lucky – ones that have some kind of an answer to what happened.”
“It’s quite difficult to achieve any type of reconciliation…when the British government is trying to close any door to any possibility” of justice, said he.