Bloody Sunday is The Defining Story of the British Army in
By Gerry Adams
June 16, 2010
By 2.30pm the crowd at Free
and spread towards the Bloody Sunday memorial. The
Bogside nestled below the city walls basking in warm
summer sunshine. Stewards shepherded members of the
Bloody Sunday families and other victims of state
killings, like the Ballymurphy families, to the front
of the mass of people. Eleven people - 10 men,
including a local priest and a mother of eight children
- were killed in Ballymurphy in west
parachute regiment in the 36 hours following the
introduction of internment in August 1971, six months
before Bloody Sunday in
There was a good natured sense of expectation as
thousands of people fell in behind the families. The
names of the 14 victims were read aloud. There was a
minute's silence. Then we set off for the Guild Hall,
the destination of the original civil rights march 38
years ago. As we passed Pilots Row Youth and Community
Centre someone started to sing We Shall Overcome and I
was swept back over 40 years ago.
"We shall all be free. We shall all be free. We
shall all be free. Some day. And deep in my heart I
do believe That we shall Overcome One day."
family members ensconced inside the city chambers
reading the Saville report, waved copies of the report
from the stained glass windows and gave thumbs up signals.
We knew then, even before listening to the British
prime minister speaking from parliament in
relayed live on a big screen, that the families felt
vindicated. Today was their day. Today was a day for
those killed and injured. Today was a day for those who
campaigned for almost 40 years for truth and justice.
And when they trooped out of the Guild Hall they were
greeted with a rapturous welcome. Tony Doherty whose
father was killed by the paras put the families
"The victims of Bloody Sunday have been vindicated.
The Parachute Regiment has been disgraced.
Widgery's great lie has been laid bare. The truth
has been brought home at last.
"It can now be proclaimed to the world that the
dead and the wounded of Bloody Sunday, civil rights
marchers, were innocent one and all... the
Parachute Regiment are the frontline assassins for
of the Saville tribunal confirms this ... democracy
itself ... needs know what happened here on January
30 1972. The British people need to know. The Irish
people need to know. The world needs to know.
"Just as the civil rights movement of 40 years ago
was part of something huge happening all over the
world, so the repression that came upon us was the
same as is suffered by ordinary people everywhere
who dare to stand up against injustice.
Representatives of all the families spoke. One by one
they declared their relative, their brother, their
father, their uncle, "innocent!"
Their remarks were interrupted by loud applause. People
cried and cheered. Clenched fists stabbed the air. Not
the clenched fists of young radicals. These were
"We shall all be free' We shall all be free. One day."
Today was their day. There was an air of celebration.
Of achievement. Of pride. Of release.
At the end, one of the women relatives tore up a copy
of the Widgery report and flung it to the wind. Widgery
was part of the British state's cover-up of what had
happened. A lie it stuck to for decades. I picked up
some of the pieces afterwards and placed them in my
copy of Saville, a keepsake of a remarkable day.
On the way home someone had placed hundreds of little
name plaques along the grass verge at the side of the
road outside Dungiven. The names were of hundreds of
citizens killed by the British army and other state
forces here during the conflict, including the 11 from Ballymurphy.
Cameron should know they and their families continue to
be denied truth. His apology for Bloody Sunday was
right. But he said that "Bloody Sunday is not the
defining story of the service the British army gave in
That is wrong.
Bloody Sunday is the defining story of the British army in