Bloody Sunday relative welcomes veterans parade reversal

John Kelly said the veterans had made the 'correct decision'
John Kelly said the veterans had made the 'correct decision'

A Bloody Sunday relative has welcomed the decision of Justice for Veterans UK (JFVUK) to withdraw their application to hold a parade in Londonderry on March 4.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was among those killed by paratroopers on Bloody Sunday, told the Derry Journal: “The initial decision to plan a march in Derry was an act of pure provocation and, given the history of the British Army in Derry, an insult to the people of the city.

“It would have achieved nothing other than to incite anger and upset.

“The organisers’ decision to withdraw their application to march is the correct one. I would like to think their decision followed careful thought about the traumatic effect such a parade would have had on bereaved families.”

Earlier on Thursday, in a statement, Mr Kelly had said: “This march by British Army veterans has been orchestrated for the sole purpose of inciting anger and upsetting the people of this city and it must not be allowed to happen.

“The realisation that prosecutions are a possibility has prompted this march and now veterans are calling for the non-prosecution of murderers? What a joke. These people are not only belittling the suffering caused to people here, they’re also attempting to undermine the rule of law. This is unacceptable.”

Minty Thompson, whose 47-year-old mother Kathleen was shot dead by a British soldier in 1971, echoed that sentiment in a statement issued on behalf of the Bloody Sunday Trust.

She said: “To hold this march in Derry is a deliberately provocative act.

“This city has clearly been chosen because it was the scene of one of the most horrific acts of state violence in our history, Bloody Sunday, and because soldiers who were involved in that event, who shot down innocent and unarmed people on our streets, are at long last being investigated for their actions.

“British soldiers should not be above the law, they cannot be above the law ... Why should they have immunity for their crimes?”