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17 May 2022

Foyle MP Eastwood calls for Army apology 50 years after Bloody Sunday

SDLP leader will ‘resist’ any amnesty for British soldiers

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood: "It is far beyond time they acknowledge what those soldiers did, the immense pain they have caused to families and the indelible mark it has left on our city."

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has called on the British Army and the Parachute Regiment to issue a formal apology 50 years after the murder of 14 unarmed civilians on Bloody Sunday.

The Foyle MP raised the issue with the Secretary of State in the House of Commons at Northern Ireland Questions today.

This weekend sees the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and, to date, no apology has been issued by the Parachute Regiment for killing and wounding innocent civilians on the streets of Derry that day.

Mr Eastwood said: “Fifty years ago this week, the Parachute Regiment were sent onto the streets of Derry where they murdered fourteen people. They were unarmed, they posed no threat and they were marching for civil rights.

“Last week Parachute Regiment flags were erected on the outskirts of our city in a deliberate attempt to cause hurt and pain to the families of those who were murdered.

“The British Army rightly condemned the flying of those flags as a grossly offensive act against the victims of Bloody Sunday.

“They have yet to apologise and condemn the actions of their soldiers in Derry on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

“It is far beyond time they acknowledge what those soldiers did, the immense pain they have caused to families and the indelible mark it has left on our city.

“Fifty years on from that act of unspeakable evil, our city stands with the Bloody Sunday families and the families of all those continuing to seek truth, justice and accountability for what happened to their loved ones.”

In response, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, did not directly answer on why the Parachute Regiment had not apologised but conveyed his own apology.

He said: “We, as the Government, have to accept responsibility for what has happened in the past. When things are wrong we need to be clear about that, as we have been. It's right that we have apologised for that.

"I've added my own personal apology to the Government's for that. That is something we also need to ensure, that we are all working together to find a way forward to ensure that people are clear that violence is not an answer to anything in Northern Ireland or elsewhere."

Later on, during Prime Minister's Questions, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, added to Mr Lewis' earlier response by saying: “This was one of the darkest days of the Troubles. I echo his (Brandon Lewis') call to learn from the past. And build a shared, peaceful and prosperous future.”

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