As Vice Chair of the Bloody Sunday Trust/Museum of Free Derry I wish to correct some of the factual inaccuracies contained in this interview.
There never was a plan to construct a memorial garden to include British soldiers in the Bogside. Four years ago there was a brief discussion within the Trust about a Peace Garden. It went no further. Nor are there any plans to construct a memorial to include British soldiers now or in the future. The focus of the BST is about civilians killed by the state. Currently we are one of the initiators of the hugely successful campaign (In Their Steps / Set the Truth Free) which has been mounted in Dublin, Derry and Belfast and which hopefully will shortly go to London. This has included the active support of several hundred families of those killed by either the British Army or the RUC, throughout the North since 1969.
In her interview Kate Nash refers to someone who “works in the Museum”. This is John Kelly, brother of Michael Kelly who was murdered on Bloody Sunday. He is the Museum's education officer. Another of our three employees is Jean Hegarty, the sister of Kevin McElhinney, who was also murdered on Bloody Sunday. She is currently acting as Secretary and Administrator for the Trust. Julieann Campbell, the niece of Jackie Duddy, the first person murdered on Bloody Sunday, is the Chair of the Trust. She is also the author of the award winning book Setting the Truth Free: The Inside Story of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign. Two other family members are Trustees. (The Trust hopes shortly to have a representative of one of the families of the wounded on its Board).
The Trust has no connection with any political party, unless you count the Sinn Féin MLA who is a member and who, by the way, was a close relative of Jim Wray, murdered on Bloody Sunday. An SDLP councillor is also a member. Other Trustees include a daughter of Sammy Devenny murdered by the RUC in 1969, and a daughter of Kathleen Thompson murdered by a British soldier in 1971. Readers might also like to know that well over one hundred Bloody Sunday family members have publicly endorsed the work and role of the Trust and MoFD.
The Trust has not been given money by Arlene Foster (Here I must protest at the attempt to introduce an element of sectarianism into this). The new extension of the MoFD is being funded by the NI Tourist Board, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Department of Social Development. As Minister responsible for Tourism Mrs Foster had to sign off on a large part of the allocation which she eventually did, but not until after lengthy delays had created enormous problems for the Trust and the Museum.
Vincent Coyle says he will die rather than allow a particular ramp to be knocked down. Well, of course, he is free to do that, though I would have thought there were far more important issues to get worked up about than a concrete ramp which has already been significantly altered (without protest) from the ramp standing on 30th January 1972. But it is not true that the plans which currently involve the replacement of the ramp represent a change. When the MoFD published the plans back in 2010, the intention to demolish and replace the ramp in a different position were there for public view. These plans were presented at a public meeting and individually the Trust surveyed the families who lived in the area, and also had the images on public display for the last four years.
The Museum of Free Derry, in my view, represents the most significant attempt by any community in Ireland to preserve its history and to inform a wider public of the truth of what happened to it during the early years of the recent conflict. It has important links to liberation and civil rights museums throughout the world. It should be supported.