High time Bloody Sunday soldiers were interviewed, Bernadette McAliskey urges police
Published 03/02/2014 | 00:00
Veteran campaigner Bernadette McAliskey has told the 42nd anniversary march of Bloody Sunday that a new police investigation into the atrocity should start with the soldiers who shot 14 civil rights supporters dead.
Some 4,000 people took part in yesterday’s parade in Londonderry.
The march, organised by some of the relatives of the dead and injured, is the third one to take place since the majority of the victims’ families decided to end the tradition of holding an annual march.
Led by a banner calling for ‘Justice for Bloody Sunday’ and the traditional 14 white crosses, the march left the Bishop's Field in Creggan where the original Bloody Sunday march had assembled.
The crowd then made its way through the Creggan estate down into the Brandywell area — the route that had been taken in 1972.
Several bands from Scotland took part and banners were carried by groups from Scotland, Dublin, Belfast and other parts of the country.
One banner called for a detox centre for Derry, an issue that had been hotly debated in the city on recent weeks.
A large contingent of supporters of the dissident republican group the 32-county Sovereignty Movement brought up the rear of the procession distinctive by their white and black banners and flags.
Sinn Fein no longer takes part in the march as it supported the decision of the bulk of the families to stop marching.
At Free Derry Corner a meeting was held, chaired by the veteran activist Bernadette McAliskey.
A singer led the crowd in the civil rights anthem We Shall Overcome followed by a minute's silence.
Mrs McAliskey, who witnessed the events of Bloody Sunday, told the crowd that she was not confident of getting justice from the latest probe by the PSNI.
She said, referring to the PSNI statement that officers are going to start interviewing up to 1,000 witnesses who gave evidence to the Saville Inquiry: “When the police come to you, tell them Bernadette said why don't they start with the accused men and see what they have to say.” She added: “Surely it would be more obvious to begin questioning the accused first?
“I think some of them would admit their guilt right away and start telling who said what to who about Bloody Sunday.”
Introducing the main speaker of the day, Stafford Scott of the Mark Duggan Campaign in London, Mrs McAliskey said that she had come to know communities like Tottenham very well during her time as a Westminster MP.
Mr Scott likened the experience of Bloody Sunday to what he said had happened in London with the killing “of an unarmed man” Mark Duggan by the police.
He described Mrs McAliskey as “a heroine of mine” for her work in working class communities like the Broadwater Farm in Tottenham.
There was no real security presence for the march. Afterwards the crowd dispersed without incident.
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PSNI detectives are to reinterview witnesses who gave evidence to the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday. Police insist it is necessary to reinterview witnesses as officers are precluded from using Saville Tribunal testimony in a criminal inquiry.
A team of officers from England and Scotland has been assembled to investigate the nine soldiers who killed 14 people on January 30, 1972 with a budget of £4m over the next four years. More than 1,000 witnesses and former soldiers are being asked to make statements as part of the criminal investigation.