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LONDON, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Ireland on Sunday called on Britain to ensure justice for the families of 13 peaceful protesters shot dead by its soldiers on “Bloody Sunday” in 1972, as thousands of people marked the 50th anniversary of one of the defining days of the Conflict in Northern Ireland.
In 2010 the British government apologized for the ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’ murders of 13 Catholic civil rights protesters by British soldiers in the Northern Irish town of Londonderry on January 30, 1972 – and a 14th who died more later due to his injuries.
None of those responsible for the shootings have been convicted and last July British prosecutors said the only British soldier charged with the murder would not stand trial – a decision relatives dispute.
“There should be a path to justice,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told state broadcaster RTE after laying a wreath and meeting relatives of the victims.
“As someone said, our children were buried 50 years ago but we still haven’t buried them…because we don’t have justice,” he said. .
Coveney reiterated the Irish government’s opposition to a proposal by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government to end all charges against soldiers and activists in an attempt to draw a line under the conflict – a move that has sparked anger relatives and was rejected by all the main local political parties. .
“We absolutely cannot and will not support this approach,” he said.
Relatives holding white roses and photographs of those killed led thousands to retrace the route of the 1972 march at memorial events on Sunday.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin observed the reading of the names of all Bloody Sunday victims.
“The whole process of courts and justice needs to be rolled out,” Martin told reporters after the ceremony.
No one from the British government attended the events and senior loyalist politicians in Northern Ireland also stayed away.
Johnson in a Twitter post on Saturday described Bloody Sunday as “one of the darkest days of The Troubles” and said Britain needed to learn from the past.
A UK government spokesman said it was “absolutely committed to addressing inheritance issues comprehensively and fairly”.
“This will include measures that focus on information recovery, so families can find out what happened to their loved ones, and which promote reconciliation, so that all communities in Northern Ireland can move forward,” said the spokesperson.
More than 3,000 people were killed before the 1998 peace process largely ended years of conflict between militant Irish nationalists seeking unification with the Republic of Ireland and the British military and loyalists determined to keep the region of Northern Ireland under British rule.
Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan in London, writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Toby Chopra and Barbara Lewis
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