John McDonagh and Martin Gavin speak to Kate Nash of the Bloody Sunday March for Justice via telephone from Doire about the Free Derry Museum’s decision to put up the names of those members of the Crown Forces killed in Doire during the ‘Free Derry’ era of The Troubles. (begins time stamp ~ 21:05)
Martin: Okay, we’re back. Back in Doire with Kate Nash. Kate, it was great to see you at the commemoration or the mural unveiling, the formal unveiling, for George McBrearty and I know at that time you were very concerned about what was happening in Free Derry Museum. I couldn’t believe – I know we were angry when this happened in Dublin with the names of Irish patriots then but that this should happen in Doire is unbelievable. John is on the line. John is going to open up the questioning on this.
Kate: Okay. Thank you, Martin.
John: Yeah, the one great things now about technology is you get to see what’s going on in Doire and all throughout Ireland almost instantaneously and then I saw on Facebook that I’m friends with Kate Nash that she had discovered that the names of British soldiers and RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) men were up in the Free Derry Museum.
So I know that Brian Mór had artwork hanging up there, I went and seen it twice at least myself when I was over in Doire, and I talked to people at the National Irish Freedom Committee and Brian Mór’s partner, Joan Messina, and I said: You know what? Bernie would not like this having his artwork displayed with the names of British soldiers who were actually shooting down the people to prevent ‘Free Derry’. So if you go to my Facebook – I put up the statement at Cabtivist dot com – or just Cabtivist on Facebook and it says:
Brian Mor O’Baoighill was deeply honored when his artwork was donated and displayed in The Museum of Free Derry. He would be horrified to learn that the Museum now includes a display honoring the RUC and British Soldiers who died during that same time period – giving them equal status to the innocent civilians who were murdered at their hands. While the concept of truth and reconciliation may have it’s place, the basic premise calls for honesty. A list to honor all people who died during the time period is neither honest nor honorable. Accordingly, the partner and friends of Brian Mor O’Baoighill who facilitated the donation of his artwork are requesting that until the list is removed, his artwork will be removed from the exhibit, and given to Kate Nash for safe keeping.
And I’d like to say: We sent this over, we called up Kate, she said send me the statement and I’ll head right over to the museum. And maybe, Kate, you can pick it up from there. Or, how did you find out and what is the feeling of the people in Doire that the names of the British soldiers who tried to prevent ‘Free Derry’ are in the exhibit?
Kate: Well there’s a great deal of anger as you would imagine. Doire still feels the pain – it’s an open wound what happened here on Bloody Sunday. But of course, we’ve lost lots of other innocent people here – children among them. Friends of mine, who are still fighting – fighting to even have inquests. So of course there’s a great deal – well of anger really and I think puzzlement, too, at what the hell this museum is at. But I do think probably, I’m hoping anyway, but I do think that you giving me that letter to actually take to the museum I’m hoping will have a great deal of influence on what they’re actually doing or at least give them time to ponder. You know, I mean this is – it’s very hurtful. And it’s needless pain that’s inflicted on innocent people.
Martin: Kate, this is Martin Galvin. Could you tell us or explain what the Free Derry Museum is and who made this decision? I believe it’s due to open next week but who made this decision to put the names of British troops, of the RUC – names which are so hurtful to you and others – who are victims of people who have never been brought before the courts for killing innocent Irish people in Doire?
Kate: Well I could say straight out: just Sinn Féin. I couldn’t tell you who, particularly, but I do know Sinn Féin are in charge. This is a museum they run and the fact of the matter is any decisions made about it they would make. Now I was told there’s preconditions if you get funding. Now I know they got funding with the renovation of that museum. But however there’s preconditions and obviously they have agreed to some things and that would be it about soldiers and RUC being put up as well as UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment) being put up there alongside victims of the state. I couldn’t give you the actual person but the Bloody Sunday Trust runs this museum and I know the Bloody Sunday Trust would be Sinn Féin.
Martin: Alright. And I know that in addition to the demand that you made for the return of Brian Mór O’Baoghill’s artwork there are other families who have asked that their different artifacts – clothing that they wore when they were killed – that other families have gone with you and protested and demanded that their items…(crosstalk; inaudible)
Kate: …Yes. There were some families there with me. I don’t, I really don’t try to influence them; it’s not something I put out widely to tell let people know that’s happening, you know, because I kind of just let people make up their own mind. But definitely there were some families, I think six or seven, represented as well as wounded. And there was a lady there, and you know I’d rather not say her name over the airwaves, but there was a lady there and yes – she was saying if they didn’t remove that display that they would want, the family would want, her brother’s clothing taken back. (You know the clothing still has the bullet wounds – he wore that suit on Bloody Sunday so it means a terrible lot to that family.) But she was extremely hurt. Very, very emotional – you know, very, very upset – shaking – her whole body shaking – and crying when she was talking to the chairman of the Bloody Sunday Trust and very, very upset. But there you go. So far their decision, as they said they will be keeping it in place until after the official opening, which I suspect will be the fifteenth of June – because they do that, too – they try to memorialise the Cameron apology that happened on the fifteenth of June, so I’m not expecting them – well they said they won’t be doing anything until after the official opening and then they will ‘consult widely’ is what I read, you know? But to personally to talk to me or any other family – I’m not sure of that, you know? I’m not sure of that. They haven’t talked to me.
Martin: Alright. John, you have a question?
John: Yeah. You know what, Kate? The irony of all this is it shows they consulted with no one. There was an article in the Belfast Telegraph of a widow of an RUC man who wants her husband’s name taken out of the exhibit. So I mean not even the widow of an RUC man wants to be in the museum. Now can anyone even envision that an RUC museum, or the Ulster Defence Regiment Museum or a British soldier museum in Belfast or anywhere in the Six Counties anywhere would have the names of IRA Volunteers in that museum? This is the madness that’s going on with the Free State and with Sinn Féin saying: Oh! We have to put up these names, they’re all (crosstalk;inaudible)
Kate: …Absolutely. Schizophrenic – the things that happen here – schizophrenic!
Martin: Okay. So Kate, you’re going to have a meeting with them but this is not going to happen until after the museum opens, is that correct? I mean once people come in, the public starts to see it, how does it make any sense to have the consultation then instead of beforehand when you can do something to take down these names, to stop giving offence, before the museum opens?
Kate: Well I have to clarify that: They haven’t said they’re going to talk to me and I would be very surprised if they did, to be honest. They may have tried to talk to some other members of my family and I would say I think the ones I was talking to just recently are not very happy with it, you know? I haven’t been able to talk to all of my family but the ones I’ve been talking to are not happy with it. Other than that I don’t think they will be talking to me. I’m not one of the people they would consult with, I’m afraid. Although I would have a perfect right, of course, to do so. He was my brother. He was my brother, too, and I should have a say in what goes on, you know? In fact, in saying that, Martin, we do not have anything personal in that museum. We simply have a photograph and it’s one photograph – it’s the only photograph we actually own of our brother because nobody in those days – nobody had cameras, they were expensive little things and nobody had them. So we only had one photograph of our brother – that’s the photograph they have. (We have copies. We all have copies.) Other than a statement of my father, a statement of my father’s which is public – it’s in the public sector, so it doesn’t matter, you know? We have nothing personal like other families have actual objects and clothing and things like that. I would certainly, if I had anything like that, I would want it out of there as I’m sure if they had something belonging to a police officer or a soldier or anything like that you can be sure it would be out pretty quick.
Kate: I don’t believe they’ve consulted with anybody and you see therein lies the problem. They just don’t ask people – they just go ahead – same as they do with the Bobby Sands’ family – they just use their stuff and it doesn’t matter how the family feels or how the family are hurt. Thus is the way they behave.
Martin: Okay. Now Kate, I did want to ask you: The last time you were on we were talking – there were no charges against troopers for Bloody Sunday for the people who were killed – fourteen people including your brother – and we’re at the point where we were very near to that decision being made. Now the DUP is – we’re going to cover this with Eamon Sweeney – but the Democratic Unionists Party – they are going to be involved very much – they supposed to be kingmakers for Theresa May as a result of the British general election.
Martin: And one of the things that they have spoken about or they are expected to ask is for a statue of limitations so that the British troops who were never prosecuted will now never be prosecuted. What’s your reaction…
Kate: …Yes, that’s very high on their priority list.
Martin: Alright. Is there anything…
Kate: …Well of course I would be…
Martin: Go ahead.
Kate: Sorry, I can’t hear.
Martin: Sorry, go ahead, Kate.
Kate: I would expect – I’m not exactly sure what you said there, Martin. I didn’t hear too well.
Martin: Alright. What is your feeling about that – the idea that there would be a statute of limitations at the behest of the DUP, with the British government, proclaimed for the North of Ireland, so that British troopers who killed Irish people under circumstances which were unjustified and unjustifiable, which amounted to murder or manslaughter, where they, who would be shielded from the courts, would never have to face a court after all the campaigning that you and the Bloody Sunday families – after all the campaigning by other families for inquests, for truth, for justice for their family members who were killed?
Kate: I would be absolutely devastated, Martin. I’m not sure, I’m not sure I could recover from something like that be honest. I have worked very hard, as everybody knows, to get prosecutions, to get justice for my brother and I simply couldn’t recover if somebody told me I wasn’t able to do it. I mean that would not – that’s a police state you’re talking about – that is not a democracy. The law must work. I know we’ve waited forty-five years but the law must work. A crime was committed here on Bloody Sunday – innocent people, lots of innocent people shot, fourteen died – many hundreds were brutalised, arrested and brutalised, by the same troops – there has to be justice for all of us. There has to be.
Martin: Alright. And Kate, one of the things that we spoke about at the George McBrearty…by the way, Jim Sullivan is here and wants to say hello.
Jim: Hi, Kate. It’s Jim Sullivan. It’s nice to hear your voice again.
Kate: Hello, Jim. How are you?
Jim: I’m pretty good. How are you feeling?
Kate: I’m very well, thank you.
Martin: Alright. One of the things that we spoke about at the George McBrearty commemoration was the idea why isn’t – why haven’t any of these troopers been charged with perjury? Judge Saville, after listening to their testimony, basically said that their testimony was obviously untrue – which would amount to perjury – it would contradict what they said at the initial – when a commanding officer now, when an officer named Mike Jackson took statements that make no sense, that were totally, physically impossible about the original shot (inaudible) – why is it that, at the very least, none of those British troops have been prosecuted for perjury, that they lied under oath, and not be brought before a court for that and use that to leverage them, to make them flip, to get information about who actually gave the orders – what was going on at the time that these people were killed on Bloody Sunday?
Kate: Well apparently, and Michael Bridge as you know has great – he’s one of the wounded – Michael has great detail on that and that has been an on-going problem for him. He’s brought it up at every single police meeting with the families and he brought it up recently, too, with the Public Prosecution Service – just nobody’s been listening to him. Michael has pushed and pushed and pushed for this for years – years – and finally at the last meeting they did say that they’re going to be reviewing that. Look, what happened there was simply this: The PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) made a deal with the Metropolitan Police to not do anything about perjury and to make it about the bigger crime – murder. So that’s really what happened there but it is now, it is now being – we think they’re going to deal with it so I don’t know how long this is going to take. I really don’t know. They said they would give us a time frame at the end of the summer.
Now it could be – there’s a family right now who waited four years to get a decision and Barra McGrory then refused. He said the soldier was just (the soldier doesn’t even say this by the way) but Barra McGrory said it, the Public Prosecutor, that the soldier thought he was defending himself – this was against a little fifteen year old who was the size of a twelve year old but they are now challenging that in the High Court on the sixteenth of this month.
Martin: Alright. And we’ll have to leave it there. Kate, good luck with fighting Free Derry Museum.
Kate: Thank you very much, Martin, for having me on.
Martin: Oh, it’s always a pleasure. We want to thank you again and hopefully something can be done before that Free Derry Museum opens up so that British troops and members of the RUC responsible for victimising and murdering and brutalisation and oppression are not there alongside the names of those they victimised. Alright, thank you, Kate.
Kate: Thank you very much, Martin. (ends time stamp ~ 36:27)