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Relatives of those killed and injured on Bloody Sunday have taken part in a remembrance walk to mark the 50th anniversary of the atrocity.
Irish president Michael D Higgins also led tributes to the men who were killed and said the victims continue to be honoured through commitment to the rights that ‘were won at such great cost’.
Thirteen civil rights protesters were shot dead by British soldiers on January 30, 1972 in the city.
Another man shot by paratroopers on the day died four months later.
While many consider him the 14th victim of Bloody Sunday, his death was formally attributed to an inoperable brain tumour.
People hold pictures of the victims of ‘Bloody Sunday’ as they retrace the steps of the original 1972 civil rights march, in a walk of remembrance to mark the 50th anniversary
The event is one of a series taking place over the weekend in Londonderry. Thirteen civil rights protesters were shot dead by British soldiers on January 30, 1972 in the city
Relatives of the victims hold flowers as they participate in a Walk of Remembrance to Memorial Garden to mark the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday
Family members walk past a mural commemorating the victims during a Walk of Remembrance to Memorial Garden to mark the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday
As part of the commemorative event, the Irish premier Micheal Martin laid a wreath at the Bloody Sunday memorial.
Earlier, relatives of those killed and injured on Bloody Sunday took part in a remembrance walk and retraced the steps of the original march.
The crowd gathered at Creggan Shops before making their way to the Bloody Sunday Monument in Rossville Street, where the annual memorial service and wreath-laying ceremony took place.
Mr Martin, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and other political leaders, including Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also laid wreaths.
The names of those who were killed and injured were read out during the 45-minute memorial service.
In a virtual address on Sunday, Mr Higgins paid tribute to the victims of Bloody Sunday and all those who lost their lives throughout the Troubles.
He also paid tribute to the people of Derry and their long campaign for justice.
Mr Higgins said: ‘The 30th of January 1972 will live on in our collective memory, as will your efforts of vindication of the truth.
‘We honour the morality of that memory today. We honour the men who died. And we continue to honour them into the future by our continued commitment to the rights that were won at such great cost.
‘We do so best by protecting these rights won, and sustaining the principled and inclusive peace that we have built together.
‘Let us all celebrate that, in transcending all the darkness and the wrongs, the exclusions, today Derry stands as a beacon of hope and justice, of battling and succeeding against the odds, a peace and a people with an inclusive achievement of dignified and respectful ethical remembering.
‘That is your legacy and the legacy of those who lost their lives on that day, Bloody Sunday, and on subsequent days.
‘It is a contribution to be sustained and extended.’
Mr Higgins made the comments during one of the events to mark the 50th anniversary of the atrocity.
Pictured: The Bloody Sunday riot in Londonderry in 1972
Demonstrators run from tear gas during the Bloody Sunday riots, which broke out after British troops shot dead thirteen civilians during a civil rights march in Londonderry
On Sunday, the crowd gathered at Creggan Shops before making their way to the Bloody Sunday Monument in Rossville Street for the annual memorial service and wreath-laying ceremony at 11am
Later, the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins will deliver a recorded message to the Bloody Sunday families
The president’s message will be shown publicly during the commemorative event Beyond the Silence, which will take place before a limited audience in Millennium Forum Theatre
His message will be broadcast on a large screen and the occasion will be livestreamed to an online audience
The event will be hosted by actor Adrian Dunbar and will feature tributes to the victims, as well as music and public performances
The forum will fall silent on Sunday at the precise time when 50 years earlier paratroopers opened fire on civil rights marchers in the Bogside
The names of all the victims were read out by actor Adrian Dunbar at the Beyond the Silence event held at the Millennium Forum in Derry.
A choir sang Danny Boy while images of the 1972 march and subsequent justice campaigns, as well as the Saville inquiry ruling, were displayed in the background.
Families of those killed on Bloody Sunday held pictures of their loved ones at the front of the stage.
Mr Dunbar said the ’emotion is palpable’ across the city.
The Line Of Duty actor added: ‘Bloody Sunday was one of the darkest days since the foundation of Northern Ireland.
‘A hammer blow from a callous and cruel Government, designed to squeeze the sense of freedom out of the people of Derry and choke the struggle for civil rights for all, regardless of political view or persuasion.
‘Thirteen innocent men and boys from this great city lay dead on cold ground on the Bogside.
‘The city were stunned into silence. Lies and propaganda spread throughout the world that the dead were not innocent at all. And that what the cameras showed and what the people said was somehow a figment of their imagination, a trick of the light.
‘The Bloody Sunday massacre was made worse by the travesty and the so-called rule of law.
‘Lord Chief Justice Widgery, the highest judicial figure in England, confirmed the lies and closed the book, or so he thought.
‘So they all thought.
‘The cause of truth and justice for our innocent dead shone brightly in our hearts and minds of those left behind.
‘The perpetrators and excuses of this gross act of state violence didn’t reckon on the Bloody Sunday families, who rose above the silence 20 years later to form the Bloody Sunday justice campaign. One of the most daring and successful human rights campaigns ever fought.’
He concluded by reading Seamus Heaney’s poem Road To Derry.
Singer-songwriter and Derry man Phil Coulter also performed at the event.
‘It’s always nice to come home, especially on a day like today,’ he said.
‘I have performed this song on many occasions and I cannot think of a more fitting occasion to sing this song than right here, right now. This really is the town I love so well.’
Playing on his white Roland Digital Grand piano, he sang an emotional rendition of The Town I Loved So Well.
Relatives of the protesters who were shot walk with other supporters to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday killings
A man walks past a wall with a slogan spray painted on it ‘Bloody Sunday The Day Innocence Died’ in Londonderry
One woman holds a sign that reads ‘It won’t always be like this’ during the remembrance march in Londonderry today
People hold pictures of the victims of ‘Bloody Sunday’ as they retrace the steps of the original 1972 civil rights march, in a walk of remembrance to mark the 50th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’
Michael McKinney, brother of William, who was among those killed on Bloody Sunday, criticised the British government for its controversial plans to ban prosecutions for Troubles killings.
Addressing the crowd, Mr McKinney said: ‘The British government intend to announce an end to all legacy investigations.
‘They intend to announce it because they’re scared.
‘Scared that their soldiers, spooks and civil servants will be exposed, and that their role as a combatant and catalyst in the war in Ireland will be highlighted around the world.
‘They are trying to deny us justice because they are scared to face justice.
‘But we want to send a very clear warning to the British government. If they pursue their proposals, the Bloody Sunday families will be ready to meet them head on.
‘We will not go away and we will not be silenced.
‘We will expose them for what they are – an embarrassment to any democracy founded on the rule of law.’
Following the service, Mr Martin met privately with families at the Museum of Free Derry.
Speaking afterwards, he said: ‘It was a privilege to be here and meet with the families of Bloody Sunday on the 50th anniversary of the terrible atrocity.
‘I thanked them for their extremely dignified, persistent and courageous campaign to pursue universal principles of justice, truth and accountability.’
Mr Martin said there should be full accountability in all legacy issues.
‘I don’t believe this will be any amnesty for anybody,’ he added.
‘I believe that the full process and justice of the courts should be deployed.
‘All of the parties in Northern Ireland are very clear that they do not want amnesties, they want due process to apply.
‘It is important because time is moving on too for many, many families and families need closure.
‘Families need to know more in terms of who killed their loved ones and they need access to information, and that is why it’s important that agreements are not just entered into, but that are followed through.’
Mr Martin also said it would have been ‘helpful’ if some of the unionist parties were represented at the commemoration event.
‘I think it’s important that we all recognise others and people who are not from one’s own community, and that would have been helpful.’
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said: ‘Today we remember the 14 innocent people who were killed in Derry 50 years ago on Bloody Sunday.
‘The events of that day cast a long shadow over the city and the country that many are still dealing with today.
‘We salute the courage and perseverance of the victims and their families who have campaigned tirelessly for justice and who continue to do so today.
‘Their tenacity serves as an example to other Troubles-related victims to never give up the fight for justice.
‘We pledge to honour the memory of those who died on Bloody Sunday by standing with all victims of the Troubles and continuing to work for permanent peace on our shared island.’
Source: Daily Mail