Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Protestant church leaders to visit Bloody Sunday site

David Cameron tells MPs the Saville Inquiry found the actions of British soldiers 'unjustified'

Protestant church leaders will make a symbolic visit into the nationalist Bogside to meet with the families of the Bloody Sunday victims.

In what will be seen as a courageous gesture, Church of Ireland Bishop of Londonderry and Raphoe Ken Good and the heads of the Presbyterian and Methodist churches will join relatives at a memorial to the dead.

The state killings of 14 innocent people on the streets of Derry on January 30 1972, and the subsequent campaign for justice have been divisive in Northern Ireland.

Bishop Good, Presbyterian Church Moderator Rev Norman Hamilton and Methodist Church President Rev Paul Kingston will present families with a replica of Derry's Hands Across the Divide sculpture.

The visit follows the momentous release of the Saville report, in which Britain held its hands up to the massacre of civilians more than 38 years after the notorious events.

It said none of the dead posed a threat and the actions of the soldiers were totally without justification.

Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a shocking analysis of the bloodshed inflicted by the troops and told the House of Commons he was "deeply sorry" on behalf of the Government and the country.

Relatives of the Bloody Sunday dead poured on to the steps of Londonderry's Guildhall, where they were greeted by cheers from the thousands who gathered for the report's release.

In 1998 the then prime minister Tony Blair commissioned Lord Saville to carry out a fresh inquiry.

The move followed a lengthy campaign by bereaved relatives, angry that official records still contained the Widgery Report which in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday had controversially cleared the soldiers of blame and accused the victims of being armed.

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