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Parachute Regiment flags appear in Derry ahead of 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the flags are “an insult to the survivors of Bloody Sunday and the victims’ families”.

PARACHUTE REGIMENT FLAGS have appeared in areas in Co Derry ahead of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

A number of tweets on social media appeared to show flags in the Newbuildings and Drumahoe areas of Co Derry.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has called for the immediate removal of the flags, saying that they have caused “real hurt and anger throughout our city”.

“This is a time where we should be supporting the Bloody Sunday families and reflecting on the terrible events of 50 years ago, not being distracted by the actions of a tiny minority who are determined to try and raise tensions in our city,” he said in a statement.

“The people who erected these flags speak for and represent nobody. Thankfully Derry is a city where people live side by side in peace and harmony and any right-thinking person will be appalled at the emergence of more of these flags in the lead up to such an important event in our shared history.

These flags must be removed at once, they are an insult to the survivors of Bloody Sunday and the victims’ families. I would urge unionist politicians and community leaders in the areas where these flags have been erected to intervene and facilitate their removal.

“The anniversary of Bloody Sunday should be a moment for people in Derry and across this island to come together and reflect on the loss of 14 innocent lives. This attempt at cheap point scoring is shameful and should be condemned by everyone.”

Sinn Féin MLA Ciara Ferguson said the erection of the flags has caused “huge upset” and has called for their removal.

“Given this British regiment’s brutal history in Derry, this is a deliberate attempt to stir up tensions and hurt families ahead of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the murder of 14 civilians by the British Army in Derry,” she said.

“I have stood with those families in recent days. They are steadfast, courageous and determined in their campaign for truth and justice for their loved ones.

“I am calling on all political parties and community leaders to condemn the erecting of these flags and to use their influence to have them removed immediately.”

SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has also condemned the flags. “These flags were put up with the intention of causing hurt,” she said in a tweet.

Given the timing, just ahead of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, there is no other way of interpreting this. It is cruel and utterly unacceptable. There is no room for this in our city.

The official Twitter account of the Parachute Regiment has criticised the flying of its flag on social media this afternoon.

In response to a tweet from UUP leader Doug Beattie saying the flying of the flag shows a “total lack of respect and compassion” to the victims and their families, the regiment said: “100% agreed. Totally unacceptable and disrespectful behaviour.”

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On 30 January 1972, 14 people taking part in a civil rights demonstration in the Bogside area of Derry were killed when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire.

13 people were killed outright, while another man died four months later from his injuries.

In 2020, an internal review of the Public Prosecution Service’s (PPS) decisions not to prosecute 15 soldiers reported in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday resulted in those decisions being upheld.

A number of events, organised by the Bloody Sunday Trust, are due to take place in Derry this Sunday to mark the anniversary of the atrocity.

The families of those killed will gather for a walk of remembrance that morning, which will be followed by a memorial service and wreath laying ceremony at the Bloody Sunday Monument at 11am.

President Michael D Higgins will also deliver a recorded message to the families during a special commemorative event, Beyond the Silence, at 4pm in Guildhall Square. The event will be livestreamed. 

About the author:

Jane Moore

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