Bloody Sunday families: 'I could cry but I'm not going to cry'
JOHN Kelly was determined not to cry as he processed the news that the soldier who killed his younger brother Michael would not be prosecuted.
So often the public face of the Bloody Sunday campaign, he had high hopes the families’ final demand would be met.
The contrast yesterday with the June day in 2010 when Lord Saville delivered the findings of his exhaustive inquiry could not have been greater.
Then, in blazing sunshine, the families punched the air in victory. Thousands of Derry people cheered with them as Saville pronounced the victims innocent.
People in Guildhall Square had wept with joy as they watched prime minister David Cameron apologise and describe the killings as “unjustified and unjustifiable”.
But the tears shed yesterday were those of pain and heartbreak.
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The families walked in solidarity through a damp, grey spring day after Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron confirmed that most of the killers would never answer in court for their actions.
John Kelly, who lost his 17-year-old brother Michael on Bloody Sunday says that he is hugely disappointed in today’s ruling. He says none of the families expected the outcome, but that victory for one family is victory for all #BloodSunday #Derry pic.twitter.com/dpVMGJvyrE— Leona O'Neill (@LeonaONeill1) March 14, 2019
Bloody Sunday goes to Derry’s soul. As news spread that only 'Soldier F' would be prosecuted, the pain of the families spread with it. A feeling of despair settled across the city.
Earlier, as they went into the room to meet the PPS, there had been an air of expectancy, Mr Kelly said.
“The room was laid out with tables allocated to each of the families. The Director of Public Prosecutions came in and started going through sector to sector (where the killings took place), starting off with Damien Donaghey and John Johnston – ‘Soldier A and B, we’re not going to prosecute’ and he gave the reasons.”
As Mr Herron reached the rubble barricade where his 17-year-old brother died, Mr Kelly said he knew Michael’s killer had escaped justice.
“I thought 'Don’t tell me he’s going to get away with this'."
By the time prosecutors had finished, the families were “totally devastated”.
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“I looked around and people were in tears and people were walking out; they couldn’t take it any more.”
As he tried to comprehend what happened, the Derry man said he was struggling to keep his emotions under control.
BLOODY SUNDAY— Leona O'Neill (@LeonaONeill1) March 14, 2019
John Kelly’s brother Michael was just 17 when he was shot dead. John says his mother never got over it and would have brought a blanket to her son’s grave to ‘keep him warm’. John says he still has a 47-year-old unopened Mars Bar his mother bought Michael that day pic.twitter.com/pXXKnQsgya
“To be honest, I could cry but I’m not going to cry because I’ve tried my best; we’ve worked hard over all these years and at the same time it’s not over yet.”