On February 1, 1998, up to 40,000 people march from the nationalist Creggan estate to the Bogside area of Derry to commemorate the 26th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and to remember the 14 people who died after paratroopers opened fire during disturbances 26 years earlier. Organisers say it is one of the biggest Bloody Sunday marches to date.
Jean Heggarty, whose brother Kevin was among those killed on January 31, 1972, pays tribute to the families’ quest for truth. “The families have never doubted the truth would survive. Due to their determination 26 years later, Tony Blair stated in the House of Commons that he would establish the truth,” she says.
John Kelly, whose brother Michael was killed, says, “The families have had a long struggle but what Tony Blair has said has really surprised us. I think we are in a more jovial mood after that announcement.”
The Sinn Féin chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, calls for prosecutions to result from the new Bloody Sunday inquiry. He says those commanding the paratroopers on the day should be called to account for their actions.
McGuinness includes in his remarks General Sir Robert Ford, who was Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland at the time of the killings. “I think the role of General Ford in particular is going to come under the microscope,” he says. “If people such as General Ford are found to be complicit in the killings then I think they should be subjected to proceedings in the courts. The implications of all that are enormous for the British establishment.”
In the immediate aftermath of the shootings, General Ford told the BBC that his men had returned only three shots after having between 10 and 20 rounds fired at them.
(From: “Special Report: Remembering Bloody Sunday,” BBC News, news.bbc.co.uk, February 1, 1998 | Pictured: In driving rain, relatives lay wreaths at the Bloody Sunday memorial)