John Kelly's brother Michael was killed by British paratroopers on Bloody Sunday 1972. As the the Saville inquiry transferred to London he appealed for British soldiers to tell the truth about what happened on the day
“My brother Michael was one of the teenage boys murdered on that terrible day. He was one of 13 people who paid the ultimate sacrifice for taking part in a peaceful civil rights march. Many others were injured by paratroopers’ bullets and carry the physical and mental scars to this day.
Michael was shot dead as marchers tried to flee from the paratroopers as they blasted their way through the Bogside area. Those responsible for his murder and the massacre of others told the world that the dead were gunmen and bombers. My brother Michael was neither a gunman nor a bomber. He was just an ordinary young man doing his civic duty by protesting against British human-rights abuses.
We should also remember that the youngest person shot that day was just 15 years of age. The oldest, 59. Many were wounded or killed as they went to the aid of wounded or dying fellow civil-rights marchers, yet the British monarch saw fit to decorate many of the Parachute Regiment’s senior officers as a direct result of their actions on Bloody Sunday. We were moved from cover-up to outright disdain in such a short period of time.
For many years the families of the dead have maintained a relentless campaign to achieve truth and justice for what happened on Bloody Sunday. We do not seek revenge, we seek the truth and we demand that the British state takes responsibility for the actions of its soldiers, both senior and junior.
Almost five years ago British prime minister Tony Blair heralded the setting up of a second tribunal of inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday —- a move completely unprecedented in British legal history. We were promised an inquiry into not only what happened on Bloody Sunday but also as to how and why this slaughter of the innocents was allowed to disgrace humanity.
The Bloody Sunday Inquiry has been sitting in the Guildhall in Derry for the past two years and to date we have heard the evidence of approximately 500 civilian witnesses and 60 security, specialist, media and political witnesses.
It is our hope that the 300 military witnesses, one of whom is my brother’s murderer, who will give evidence here in London will tell the truth, will do so openly and honestly. To you, British soldiers who were allowed to lie in 1972 about what you did or what you saw or knew, I say that the only one you have hidden from is yourself. You have nothing to fear from us. You have nothing to fear from speaking the truth. Let us take some good from the terrible legacy you have left behind in Ireland since January 1972, since Bloody Sunday.
By helping to establish the truth about Bloody Sunday you can play your part in building genuine reconciliation between the people of Ireland and Britain.”
Connolly Publications Ltd, 244 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8JR
Copyright © 2002 Connolly Publications Ltd