Hundreds of people on Sunday walked the route of marchers who were killed by British paratroopers a half-century ago in Northern Ireland during a civil rights demonstration. Family members of those shot to death in Derry on what's now known as Bloody Sunday were among those at the remembrance, the Guardian reports. Along with other political leaders, Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin laid a wreath and called for accountability even now in the killings. "I believe that the full process and justice of the courts should be deployed," he said after meeting with the families. The unionist parties were not represented, which Martin said "would have been helpful."
The 1972 march, in which 13 people were killed, launched—along with another demonstration four years before on the same streets—the three-decade-long Troubles, per the New York Times. By the time the Good Friday peace agreement of 1998 was signed, more than 3,500 people had died in the fight between those who wanted one Ireland and those who wanted Northern Ireland more closely tied to the UK government. Bloody Sunday hardened both sides, bolstering the Irish Republican Army most of all. "Many young people I have talked to in prison have told me they would have never joined the IRA had it not been for what they witnessed on Bloody Sunday," said the Rev. Edward Daly, who had helped carry a shooting victim, in 1998.
In 2019, one former British soldier was charged with killing two demonstrators and wounding four more. But prosecutors dropped the case last year, saying there was no chance of a conviction; a family is fighting that decision, per the AP. The UK issued an apology in 2010 after a government inquiry found the troops opened fire without justification on unarmed civilians who were fleeing, then lied about it for years, per Euronews. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week that Bloody Sunday was "one of the darkest days in our history." Michael McKinney, whose brother William was killed in 1972, said Sunday the government is "trying to deny us justice," adding, "We will not go away and we will not be silenced." (Read more Bloody Sunday stories.)