Jeremy Corbyn slams those impeding justice for Bloody Sunday victims

Jeremy Corbyn slams those impeding justice for Bloody Sunday victims

FORMER Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has slammed the people and institutions that continue to stand in the way of justice for the victims of Bloody Sunday.

In particular, he criticised the British Government's plans to bring in legislation to prevent the perpetrators of Troubles killings from facing justice.

Mr Corbyn said it was "an outrage that nobody has been prosecuted for the deaths of 14 innocent civilian protestors".

The Islington North MP was speaking at Derry's Guildhall on Saturday, where he gave the 2022 Bloody Sunday Memorial Lecture on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the massacre.

On January 30, 1972, 13 innocent civilians were shot dead by members of the British Army's Parachute Regiment at a march protesting internment without trial.

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

Internment 'stuff of dictatorships'

Mr Corbyn described the 1972 protest, organised by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, as "peaceful protestors [marching] against the most flagrant denials of their rights".

"The protest of January 30, 1972 was against internment without trial," he said.

"A grotesque example of the discrimination faced by the community at that time, but one introduced precisely because of their resistance to second-class status when it came to jobs, housing and representation.

"Think about it — internment without trial. That's the stuff of dictatorships in other parts of the world.

"Those protestors were gunned down on the streets. Shot as they fled marauding soldiers intent on killing them.

"Shot in the back as they ran. Shot as they tried to crawl to safety. Shot as they lay wounded on that cold ground on that day."

'Apology does not equal justice'

Following the publication in 2010 of the Saville Inquiry that exonerated all the victims, then Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the killings.

Speaking about Cameron's apology, Mr Corbyn said: "All of those years there was this question mark that somehow or other the victims were the guilty ones.

“But of course, the statement by the Prime Minister does not equal justice, so while we're here today to remember the lives lost, there are still some, including many in Westminster, who want to put justice out of reach and secure immunity for those who committed crimes in the service of the British State with a deployment here in Northern Ireland.

"Those people stand in defiance of our common humanity.

"We must never shrink from holding to account apologists for brutality and murder."

'Complicity and covering up'

Mr Corbyn said the failure to prosecute anyone over Bloody Sunday and the proposed amnesty for Troubles-related killings was a "double outrage" for the families.

"It's an outrage that nobody has been prosecuted for the deaths of 14 innocent civilian protestors," he said.

"It's a double outrage that the British Government is now planning legislation to make it even harder for such an effort to succeed at any time in the future.

"That would be the effect of the forthcoming Amnesty Bill, which would stop any prosecution, investigation, judicial review, inquest or civil case connected with killings which occurred before 1998.

"It would shut down all future inquiries into the State's actions during the Troubles."

He added: "Introducing a statute of limitations for atrocities that took place in Ireland amounts to nothing short of complicity and covering up the truth and ensures that the lessons are not fully learnt.

"The idea that we must move on without examining the State's own accountability has quite rightly enraged a lot of people of the North as a whole.

"The Amnesty Bill passing into law would entrench injustice and be an insult to us all."

Mr Corbyn's speech was just one of many events planned to mark the 50th anniversary of the atrocity.

Other events include a march in Derry, in which family members of the victims will retrace the steps of the original march.