Northern Ireland's would-be justice minister David Ford last night apologised to the families of the Bloody Sunday victims for describing the Saville Inquiry as “pointless” saying it was “clumsy and inappropriate”.
However, it was too little, too late for some of those affected who were at the City Hotel in Londonderry.
Among them was Damien Donaghy, who as a boy of 15 was the first person shot on Bloody Sunday, He refused to go into the meeting.
Mr Ford said: “There were issues around the cost of the inquiry that I queried, not the process itself.”
Mr Ford dismissed suggestions that his expected appointment as Policing and Justice Minister was now jeopardised. “It would be ridiculous if one word used inappropriately was allowed to upset the whole apple cart,” he said.
For those family members who did sit around the table with Mr Ford, his apology was accepted and went some way towards addressing the hurt that had been caused.
Joe McKinney, relative of Gerard McKinney who was shot dead, said that he was hurt by Mr Ford calling the Saville Inquiry pointless because the report was “all the families have”.
He said: “We were not afforded justice at the time. The RUC did not even investigate Bloody Sunday when it happened.
“Other victims of other atrocities have had their day in the courts and have had their justice but for all these years we have had nothing which is why this report is so important.”
Paul Doherty, another relative, said he found the meeting “useful” and was satisfied that Mr Ford did genuinely take on board what the families had to say to him. Mr Doherty said: “David Ford talked about the cost of the inquiry and he made much of the fact that so far the inquiry has cost £200m but that has nothing whatsoever to do with the families.”
Mr Doherty said he was glad Mr Ford had come to Derry but said that he was not 100 percent sure if he could go so far as to support or have confidence in him if he was appointed Justice Minister.
“I am not there yet and perhaps I never will have confidence in him as a Justice Minister.”