Not being one who uses nor indeed even understands facebooks fascination to some keyboard warriors (I have only ever issued on statement in my life) I was shocked to be shown a series of statements and responses on a facebook page purporting to represent the thinking and position of those involved in the organisation of the current Bloody Sunday March and some of their supporters.
The history of the Bloody Sunday families and of this city’s campaign for truth and justice and the sustained, courageous and ongoing commitment and support both nationally and internationally for the families campaign is well documented and does not need to be patronisingly explained to us.
Our family in common with many others have taken part in every meeting, event, march or demonstration since they first began and, no doubt in common with many others, we will never let our voices go unheard nor the memory of Bloody Sunday be forgotten. Therefore, any suggestion that those thousands of people, including family members who decided after years of campaigning that they would not take part in this year’s march, have become agents of MI5 or supporters of British soldiers or wish to prevent justice for those who have suffered from British atrocities not only insults all of us who have fought for justice consistently over the past 46 years, not just the past seven, is nothing short of arrogance and ego on the part of those wishing to portray themselves as latter day Martin Luther Kings.
For any sensible observer it has become obvious over the past number of years that differences as to strategy and perhaps political allegiances have caused many, both family members and public supporters, to adopt different approaches as to the best way to progress the campaign and to commemorate the event.
As a family whose relative was shot on that day we took our own decision to support the continuation of the march which inevitably conflicted with others who chose differently.
However, despite our differences we will never forget the friendships and determination, even in the darkest of times of all those family members and their supporters who over all the years never wavered in their determination to seek justice.
When I read statements about who has stood up for justice and who hasn’t, or who has the right to speak for all those affected by Bloody Sunday and who hasn’t, or who considers themselves as the only true representatives of decency, republicanism, democracy, justice etc, I can’t help but seethe at the hypocrisy of the ‘holier than thou brigade’ who consider themselves to be without sin and are prepared to throw the first stone, regardless of the hurt it causes when it strikes.
I do not wish to revisit previous disputed events but the refusal of this committee to allow other family members to participate followed by the refusal to allow Tony Taylor’s wife access to the platform, the blatant linking of the Bloody Sunday facebook page and the March to one political party and finally the production of that disgraceful poster led our family along with thousands to refuse to participate in this year’s march.
Let there be no mistake about this, our decision not to participate caused us a great deal of heartache and pain and was only taken after much soul searching. To be clear our decision not to march in no way represents a desire to see the march ended. In fact we as a family pledge to do all we can to see the Bloody Sunday March returned to the streets in the proud tradition with which it was established.
To this end we call for open and honest debate amongst all those who have the cause of Truth and Justice at heart and an end to mud-slinging, untruths or innuendos which do nothing but assist our enemies.
In May of this year the communication below was sent forward to the current march committee in response to their call for communication via their chosen mediator contrary to claims that this was bullying or something untoward. The mediator, a highly respected republican and trade unionist will confirm this. The paper is representative of the views of a broad range of people inclusive of Bloody Sunday family members, political groupings and social justice activists. Please click the link below to read the paper.
➤ Jacqueline O’Reilly is a Bloody Sunday Family Member.