Irish-Americans throughout the borough spent this past Sunday bestowing Valentine’s Day salutations on the Derry 13 – 38 years after British paratroopers made sure their hearts wouldn’t beat anymore.
Once again taking up crosses bearing the victims’ names, members of the Bay Ridge Irish American Action Association took up the call for justice and peace in Northern Ireland during their annual Bloody Sunday march to Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Fifth Avenue and 60th Street.
While this year’s march – the 38th since the 1972 massacre where thirteen people were killed as British Paratroopers opened on civil rights protestors in Derry, Ireland – was on Valentine’s Day, the marchers thoughts weren’t on their loved ones at home, but the families of the victims who are still demanding answers from the British government.
Their minds were also on rumors that their yearly marches may have brought progress: The British government is poised to release the findings of the Saville Inquiry, a long delayed investigation into the bloodbath.
The families of the victims are supposed to receive the findings late next month, but even that has brought some controversy, noted Mary Nolan, president of the Bay Ridge Irish-American Association.
“There’s a lot of skepticism if that is really going to happen,” said Nolan, who keeps in contact with John Kelly, the brother of Bloody Sunday victim Michael Kelly. “There’s talk that the government wants to see it first, and we’re afraid that they can alter it. People are also very interested in why it took them so long to release the report.”
Nolan said that Brooklyn march, besides bringing Bloody Sunday back into the spotlight, was their way of sending their love to the victim’s families. The families, she said, appreciate the gesture.
“They’re very grateful for what we do here,” she said.