Calls for fresh Bloody Sunday inquiry grow

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The Independent Online
There is mounting pressure on the Government to reinvestigate the Bloody Sunday shootings in Londonderry 25 years ago.

As an anniversary march of 20,000 people took place in the city where 14 people from the nationalist community were shot dead by British soldiers, John Hume, the Social Democratic and Labour Party leader, claimed that the Prime Minister, John Major, had accepted those who died were innocent victims and had not been carrying weapons or bombs.

Mr Hume, the Irish Prime Minister, John Bruton, and Sinn Fein, have in effect formed a trinity trying to force Mr Major into setting up an independent inquiry into the killings. The earlier inquiry by Lord Chief Justice Widgery - which accepted that the Parachute Regiment soldiers had acted lawfully when they were called to an anti- interment demonstration in Londonderry - is increasingly seen as being deficient.

With the emergence of new evidence, suggesting that there were other soldiers involved and that the nationalist crowd had been fired on from above as well as from the paratroopers on the ground, a full-scale international investigation, along the lines of the Mitchell Commission, may be considered.

Before the anniversary march, which attracted the largest crowd ever to commemorate the deaths, Mr Hume made an impassioned plea for peace. He said the abandonment of violence was the best tribute that could be paid to the 14 victims.

Mr Hume is co-ordinating new evidence to present to the British Government and said he was hopeful there would be a fresh Bloody Sunday inquiry soon.

Mitchel McLaughlin, a senior member of Sinn Fein, called for "the truth about Bloody Sunday" to be brought out in the open".

The marchers yesterday included relatives of the men who died. The route followed that of the 1972 demonstration from the Creggan Estate to Free Derry Corner.

The crowd assembled to hear Sinn Fein's vice-president, Martin McGuinness, add his voice to calls for an international inquiry. And Michael McKinney, whose brother was one of those shot dead by the paratroopers, said the outcry over Bloody Sunday would not go away.

"[Sir Patrick]Mayhew [the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland] can keep his head in the sand for as long as he wants, but when he gets up again, the relatives of Bloody Sunday will still be here to spoil his day," he said.