Irish-American Brooklynites held their annual remembrance of the 1972 massacre known around the world as Bloody Sunday — but this one will be the last such march because the British government has finally owned up to the slaughter.
So even though the event honored the so-called Derry 13 — peace protesters whose killing still embroils the English and the Irish — the mood of marchers was ecstatic.
“It feels wonderful, but it took way too long,” said Mary Nolan, founder of the Bay Ridge Irish American Action Association, which hosted the yearly march to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, where mourners attend a mass for victims. “After evading the truth for 39 years, I’m pleased that at long last the Brits can look at themselves in the mirror.”
Tommy Hughes, an Irish native who actually witnessed the massacre, called the British apology “marvelous.”
“Thank God we got this recognition,” he said. “I just wish that there was freedom in Northern Ireland and that we wouldn’t keep fighting. One massacre is enough.”
Yet, there were those who hoped members of the Association would return to its Irish Haven on 58th Street and Fourth Avenue, the vigil’s kicking off point, next year — if not for a march, then for one of the group’s famous dinners.
“I told Mary [Nolan] that we have to come back next year just for the soda bread,” joked Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge). “But today has a lot of significance. The fact that the British government cleared the names of the 14 victims show that our many years on this march have paid off.”