“They are trying to deny us justice because they are scared to face justice.
“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. ”
‘They’re scared, scared that their soldiers, spooks and civil servants will be exposed.’
Michael McKinney, brother of Bloody Sunday victim William McKinney
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who laid a wreath and met with victims’ relatives at the commemoration on Sunday called for a “road to justice”.
“As somebody said, our children were buried 50 years ago, but we still haven’t laid them to rest … because we don’t have justice,” he said.
Coveney reiterated the Irish government’s opposition to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to halt prosecutions in an attempt to draw a line under the conflict – a move that has been rejected by all the main local political parties.
Bloody Sunday is considered the worst mass shooting in Northern Ireland’s history. It was also a key flashpoint in the Troubles, fueling Catholic and Irish nationalist hostility to British rule.
Britain’s first inquiry cleared the soldiers of wrongdoing, only describing the decision to fire as “bordering on reckless”. The Saville Inquiry, made public in 2010 after a 12-year investigation, concluded the killings were “unjustifiable.”
Relatives holding white roses and photographs of those killed led thousands of people in retracing route of the 1972 march in Sunday’s memorial events.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin looked on as the names of all the Bloody Sunday victims were read out.
“The full process of the courts and of justice should be deployed,” Martin told reporters after the ceremony.
No-one from the British government attended the events and senior loyalist Northern Irish politicians also stayed away.
Johnson in a Twitter post on Saturday described Bloody Sunday as “one of the darkest days of the Troubles” and said Britain must learn from the past.
A spokesperson for the British government said it was “absolutely committed to addressing legacy issues comprehensively and fairly.”
“This will include measures that focus on information recovery, so that families can know what happened to their loved ones, and which promote reconciliation, so that all communities in Northern Ireland can move forward,” the spokesperson said.
More than 3,000 people were killed before the 1998 peace process largely ended years of conflict between Irish nationalist militants seeking unification with the Republic of Ireland and the British Army and loyalists determined to keep the region of Northern Ireland under British rule.