Martin McGuinness speaking at Bloody Sunday rally 2010
As a Derry man, as someone who was on the march that fateful day 38 years ago I want to acknowledge and commend the dignity, resilience and courageous determination of the Bloody Sunday families who had loved ones murdered or wounded on that terrible day.
The dignified manner in which you have pursued the truth, to right the many wrongs that have been perpetrated against you has been an inspiration to all of us and especially others who also seek truth and justice. You have remained focused, determined and resolute despite the best efforts of the British political and military establishments to derail your campaign at every opportunity.
When Tony Blair, the then British Prime Minister, announced a new inquiry under Lord Saville, peoples’ expectations were understandably raised in the hope that the end of the campaign was imminent. But few believed that we would be met with the level of obstruction and destruction of evidence that took place during the Inquiry by those who fear truth.
Given that it is now over 12 years since the announcement of the Inquiry and almost 5 years since the inquiry concluded taking evidence – you the families have again displayed tremendous patience while awaiting the outcome.
The families realise that Saville had a large volume of evidence to consider but let him be mindful of the theme of today’s march – ‘Set the Truth Free’.
All of us and in particular the families of those killed or wounded, know that British paratroopers under the control of the British Government murdered 14 unarmed civil rights demonstrators and wounded and traumatised many others on their own streets in this city 38 years ago.
It is time that Saville ‘Set the Truth Free’ so that the world will know that after its soldiers murdered your loved ones – our people - the British establishment then set about a campaign of lies and deceit in order to cover up its murderous actions. He must take all measures to ensure that his report is published without further delay. And the British government must take action to ensure that the impending Westminster election is not used as another excuse to further delay its publication.
I fully support the families in their demand that they have sight of the
Report at the same time as the British Secretary of State. And I have told the British Prime Minister that.
While hopefully we are coming to the conclusion of the Bloody Sunday campaign for truth on the publication of the Saville Report, many others continue to search for truth about the circumstances of the deaths of their loved ones and they are entitled to it.
So let us send out a message of solidarity to those campaigns such as that in Ballymurphy where 11 people were murdered in a 24-hour period also by British Paratroopers in August 1971 and the Families of the Forgotten in the 26 Counties. It is time to ‘Set the Truth Free’ on those massacres also.
I have spent most of the past week in Hillsborough Castle. We have been engaged with the DUP directly. These talks were about equality. It was about rights. Your rights, my rights, our rights. These are not negotiable. They are entitlements.
The right to a proper policing service, the right to institutions which
deliver, the right to see poverty tackled. I am happy to say we have made significant progress. Institutions which don’t deliver are worthless and something I will not be involved in. I now hope we have a basis upon which nationalists, republicans, unionists and loyalists will move forward together on the basis of partnership and equality.
There is no other realistic or viable path available.
I thank the organisers of the Bloody Sunday Campaign for the tremendous work they have done through almost four decades to ensure that they get truth for their loved ones. Once again I pledge Sinn Féin’s continued support and solidarity until you achieve the conclusion which you have tirelessly campaigned for.
We conclude the march for the second year at the spot at which it was blocked 38 years ago. If the families decide that another march should take place next year let’s determine that it continues to the intended destination of the original march – Guildhall Square.
Set the Truth Free.