Families of Bloody Sunday victims lead walk of remembrance on 50th anniversary of atrocity

Families of Bloody Sunday victims lead walk of remembrance on 50th anniversary of atrocity

RELATIVES of those killed on Bloody Sunday led a crowd of thousands in a Families' Walk of Remembrance in Derry today, to mark the 50th anniversary of the atrocity.

It was just one of a series of events being held in the city and across Ireland to remember the events of January 30, 1972.

Fifty years ago today, 13 innocent civilians were shot dead by members of the British Army's Parachute Regiment at a march protesting internment without trial.

Family members pass a mural commemorating the victims during the Walk of Remembrance (Image: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

A 14th victim died months later, with his death attributed to the injuries he received on the day.

This morning's Families' Walk of Remembrance set off from the Creggan shops, making its way to the Bloody Sunday Monument.

White roses

The procession saw children hold a white rose for each of the 14 victims, while other family members carried photographs of their lost loved ones.

The walk culminated at the Rossville Street monument, where a Memorial Service took place.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin lays a wreath at the Bloody Sunday Monument (Image: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Wreaths were laid by politicians, including Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald.

Also in attendance were Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and Derry Deputy Mayor Christopher Jackson.

'Courage and perseverance'

Meanwhile, Tanaisté Varadkar paid tribute to the families for their perseverance in the pursuit of justice.

"Today we remember the 14 innocent people who were killed in Derry 50 years ago on Bloody Sunday," he said.

"The events of that day cast a long shadow over the city and the country that many are still dealing with today.

Thousands marched to the wreath-laying ceremony at the Bloody Sunday Monument (Image: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

"We salute the courage and perseverance of the victims and their families who have campaigned tirelessly for justice and who continue to do so today.

"Their tenacity serves as an example to other Troubles-related victims to never give up the fight for justice.

"We pledge to honour the memory of those who died on Bloody Sunday by standing with all victims of the Troubles and continuing to work for permanent peace on our shared island."

Relatives of the victims held white roses during the Walk of Remembrance (Image: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

This afternoon, the annual Bloody Sunday March of Justice will retrace the route of the original march.

The rally will be addressed by speakers including Bernadette McAliskey (nee Devlin), a prominent member of the Civil Rights Movement, who was preparing to address the rally when the shooting started.

A Mass in memory of the victims was held this morning at St Eugene's Cathedral, officiated by Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald Vice-President Michelle O’Neill join the Walk of Remembrance to the Bloody Sunday Monument (Image: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

"Very painfully, the Bloody Sunday families were denied for too long the truth about what happened to their loved ones," said Archbishop Martin.

"Sadly, they are not alone — a whole legacy of heartbreak and with it a dark shadow of secrecy still hangs over much of our troubled past."

Bells to toll to honour victims

This afternoon, the cathedral bells are set to toll 14 times at 4.10pm — the time the killings began 50 years ago — in memory of the victims.

Meanwhile at 4pm, a commemorative event, Beyond the Silence, will be held at the Millennium Forum Theatre.

The event, hosted by actor Adrian Dunbar, will feature a recorded message from President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins.

Yesterday, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gave the 2022 Bloody Sunday Memorial Lecture at Derry's Guildhall, in which he criticised those impeding justice for the victims of Bloody Sunday.