Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, Irish President Mary McAleese and Prime Minister Brian Cowen have all welcomed the released of the Bloody Sunday inquiry which found the actions of the British Paratroopers involved to be unjustified.
Northern Ireland’s Chief Constable Matt Baggott and Head of the Public Prosecution Service in Britain, Sir Alasdair Fraser, are now in talks to consider whether the Paratroopers who opened fire on the crowds on Bloody Sunday should face criminal charges.
The inquiry was launched in 1998 and has become the longest running and most expensive of its kind in British history. The report has found the British soldiers who opened fire on a civil rights march were unjustified and unprovoked. On January 30, 1972 14 people died and 13 were badly injured.
At the Guildhall in Derry City, relatives of the victims each read out the names of their loved ones to an audience of thousands. After each name was read the shouted the word “Innocent”.
John Kelly made an emotional address to the crowd saying “We have overcome.” Mr Kelly lost his 17-year-old brother, one of the 14 who were killed by shots fired by British Paratroopers.
Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin President, said “Today is a day for the families of those killed and those injured on Bloody Sunday," Mr Adams said at Guildhall, in Derry.
“They have campaigned for 38 years for the truth and for justice. They have campaigned for the British government to end their policy of cover-up and concealment.
“The facts of what happened on Bloody Sunday are clear – the British Paras came to Derry and murdered 14 civil rights marchers and injured 13 others.
"They were unarmed, they posed no threat and they were completely innocent.
“Today Saville has put the lies of Widgery into the dustbin of history and with it the cover-up which was authorized of the highest levels within the British establishment and lasted for almost four decades.
“Sinn Féin will continue to support the Bloody Sunday families in the time ahead.”
President Mary McAleese is currently on a state visit to China. She released a statement saying “I welcome today's publication of the Report of the Saville Inquiry into the awful events which occurred in Derry on that fateful Sunday 30 January 1972.
“13 innocent people were shot dead and a similar number wounded, one of whom subsequently died.
“The injustices perpetrated that day and the suffering they engendered were compounded by the subsequent Widgery Report and led many people at the time to despair of the efficacy of politics or peaceful protest.”
Speaking from Dublin, Prime Minister Brian Cowen, said “Today is the day when the truth has been set free in the city of Derry.
“This is not about the re-opening of old wounds, but rather it is about the healing of the gaping wounds of injustice left behind by the terrible events of Bloody Sunday.
“The brave and honest words of Prime Minister David Cameron in the House of Commons today will echo around the world.”
Sir Alasdair Fraser, head of the Public Prosecution Service released a statement. It read “The Director of Public Prosecutions, together with the Chief Constable, will consider the report to determine the nature and extent of any police inquiries and investigations which may be required to enable informed decisions as to prosecution to be taken.”
“The undertaking given by the Attorney General in 1999 to witnesses who provided evidence to the inquiry will also require to be considered.
“It is not practical, at this stage, to say when such decisions will be taken other than to indicate that the matter will be considered as expeditiously as possible.”