A senior Sinn Fein figure has described Bloody Friday as “unjustifiable” and that “it shouldn’t have happened”.
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the bombings, Declan Kearney told the Belfast Telegraph: “I think there is no republican who would associate him or herself to the view that Bloody Friday should have happened. Bloody Friday shouldn’t have happened,” he repeated.
Mr Kearney — the party’s national chairman — is the lead republican in reconciliation talks with a range of people from the Protestant/unionist community.
They began after he challenged republicans to say sorry — not for the IRA war, but for the hurt caused by all armed actions. He said the events of 1972 — Bloody Sunday, Bloody Friday and the highest death toll during the conflict — should “serve as a stark reminder and monument to this generation of what we can never go back to”.
He responded to criticism of the initiative and a challenge from DUP MP Nigel Dodds for republicans to “come clean” on Bloody Friday.
Mr Kearney said addressing the past “can never be about one event, or one individual or one incident”.
He called an IRA statement issued on the 30th anniversary of Bloody Friday “a very comprehensive apology to the victims and their families”.
Former Methodist President Harold Good has revealed the background to that statement after a private meeting with a republican leader: “I went with a friend who had lost a loved one who believed an apology would be important and helpful,” the Rev Good said.
“We were well received and given a sympathetic hearing without any attempt to defend what had happened on that day; quite the opposite. While the ensuing apology was seen to be limited, it was a serious response to a serious challenge from the family of a victim.”