Belfast Telegraph

Museum of Free Derry protestors told to 'stay for as long as you want'

By Leona O'Neill

Two pensioners occupying a museum in protest at a controversial exhibition have been told they can remain there as long as they wish.

The women are outraged their relatives' names are part of a display at the Museum of Free Derry alongside those of dead British soldiers, and want them removed.

Helen Deery and Linda Nash have 'occupied' the Bogside museum since Wednesday. They are sleeping on the concrete floor overnight and sitting in the foyer holding signs saying 'relatives betrayed' during opening hours.

Speaking from inside the locked museum last night, Helen, whose 15-year-old brother Manus was shot dead by a soldier in 1972, said she was "utterly exhausted" as their protest headed for its sixth day.

She is joined by Ms Nash, whose 19-year-old brother William was killed on Bloody Sunday in the same year.

Helen told the Belfast Telegraph last night: "As soon as they take my brother out of the exhibition I will leave, and the same for Linda. I am utterly exhausted but my resolve is still strong. We have no access to washing facilities, we are not allowed into the kitchen and we are sleeping on the floor. But this won't take a second longer if they take our loved ones' names down.

"I don't care what other names are up there, but I want my brother's name removed. Then I will go and never say another word about it."

The museum is owned by the Bloody Sunday Trust and, on one of its visual exhibitions the names of everyone killed in the Troubles from 1969 to 1972 flash up on a screen.

In a statement, the Trust said museum staff were "taken by surprise" by the protest as they are currently surveying families of victims about their attitude towards the display.

It added: "We wish to invite Helen and Linda to stay in the museum as long as they like.

"As our guests they are free to use the facilities of the museum and we are happy to facilitate any personal needs such as a change of clothes, bedding, etc.

"We are happy for the two women to explain the nature of their protest to those visiting the museum and would urge all those in Derry and from wider afield who wish to explore the issue of how best we tell the story of the past to visit the museum, meet and talk with Helen and Linda and to see the display of names for themselves.

"To facilitate this conversation, the Trust will be preparing a short leaflet explaining the purpose of the display and who Helen and Linda are. A copy of this leaflet will be handed to every visitor to the museum."

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