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1972 “Bloody Sunday” recalled by demonstrators

January 26, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Irish Americans on Saturday waved black flags and banged noisemakers outside the British Embassy demanding a new investigation into the 1972 ``Bloody Sunday″ fatal wounding of 14 people by soldiers at Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

A throng of about 75 demonstrators also cheered reading of a message sent by Gerry Adams urging redoubled efforts ``to reconstruct the opportunity for peace squandered by this British government″ of Prime Minister John Major.

Adams, president of Sinn Fein, political arm of the Irish Republican Army, has been at the margin of on-again, stalled-again, efforts to resolve the conflict that has cost more than 3,400 lives since the 1960s.

Negotiations on the future of the six counties of British-ruled Ulster in Ireland’s North began last June but Adams’ party was banned because it failed to renounce violence.

Rallies were planned by major Irish American communities across the United States but a rain-drenched turnout of only 30 outside the British Consulate General in New York disappointed participants. Past Manhattan rallies marking the Jan. 30, 1972, shooting have drawn up to 500.

Bob McGann, a founder of the Irish Northern Aid Committee, acknowledged that his group has ``lost a lot of support″ recently.

Adams’ message sent from Belfast to Washington said information that surfaced recently adds ``weight to the belief that the 14 people killed on Bloody Sunday 25 years ago in `Derry, were the victims of a planned shoot-to-kill action by British forces″ in Ulster.

Thirteen of 26 people shot that January day died at the time and a 14th died several months later of wounds suffered on Jan. 30.

An inquiry at the time headed by Britain’s chief justice ruled that troops opened fire only after they had been shot at while trying to arrest Irish nationalist rioters at a parade protesting detention of critics of British rule.

The Nationalists have long branded ``Bloody Sunday″ an unprovoked massacre of innocent civilians and demanded re-investigation and apology.

People watched from embassy windows as the demonstrators on Massachusetts Avenue, Washington’s diplomatic row, banged trashcan lids and rattled cans filled with stones. Fourteen waved black flags, one for each death while others carried crosses with victims’ names or planted them into rain-softened ground at curbside.

Three uniformed agents of the U.S. Secret Service diplomatic protection unit watched the pre-authorized, peaceful demonstration from the embassy entrance. Police cars were in the side streets.

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