Bloody Sunday victims' families thrilled as names cleared
The families of those shot dead on Bloody Sunday voiced relief Tuesday that an inquiry into the 1972 shootings finally cleared the names of their relatives.
Speaking outside the Guildhall in Londonderry, where they spent five hours inside digesting the report before its findings were released, relatives of those killed spoke to the thousands gathered outside.
Just minutes before Prime Minister David Cameron read his statement on Lord Mark Saville's report in parliament in London, relatives gave thumbs up signs to the crowd outside from the Guildhall windows, to huge cheers.
Liam Wray, speaking on behalf of his family, said the report found that his brother Jim was "specifically targeted while posing no threat, and shot in the back.
"As he lay there, defenceless and dying, he was deliberately shot again. The Saville Report stated clearly that there was no justification for either of these two shots."
He said his family and the people of Derry had been vindicated by the report.
"Now the world knows the truth. Jim was murdered. Jim was innocent."
Tony Doherty, whose father Paddy died when paratroopers opened fire, said to loud applause that the victims had been vindicated and the Parachute Regiment disgraced.
"It can now be proclaimed to the world that the dead and the wounded of Bloody Sunday, civil rights marchers, one and all, were innocent, one and all, gunned down on their own streets by soldiers who had been given to believe that they could kill with perfect impunity," he said.
"It was the paratroopers' mission in Derry to massacre. Bloody Sunday wounded Derry very, very badly. We may hope that from today we can begin to bind those wounds.
John Kelly, whose brother Michael was 17 when he was shot dead, said: "The report is very long, very detailed and covered a wide range of topics on every possible aspect of Bloody Sunday.
But the key point for the families was "the innocence of our loved ones".
"Everything else fades into insignificance compared to the fact that those gunned down on Bloody Sunday were ordinary, decent Derry people. That was the verdict we wanted. That is what matters.
"We have overcome."
At the end of their statements, a copy of a much shorter 1972 inquiry into Bloody Sunday, which largely exonerated the British soldiers, was ripped up and thrown to the wind.
© 2010 AFP