Members of Derry and Strabane Business and Culture Committee approved the allocation of £50,000 from the National Events fund for the Bloody Sunday 50th anniversary event.
The Bloody Sunday Trust will mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in 2022.
The main event, Beyond The Silence, will be held on Sunday, January 30, 2022. This will be a large-scale event attracting in excess of 7,000 attendees that will mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and events since that day. It is estimated that the overall event costs will be around £150,000.
As the National Events Fund’s allocation for the current financial year has been allocated to the recent Cricket International Series held recently at Bready, Members approved the additional £50,000 for the anniversary event from the wider council budget.
Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue proposed the allocation of funds saying: “This is going to be a very important year for the City and District and it’s already attracting international coverage and there will be a lot of international media here too. I certainly endorse the allocation of this extra money.”
Seconding the proposal SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell added: “We fully support this funding allocation of £50,000 for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Bloody Sunday is one of the seminal events in Irish history and it’s right and it’s proper that this council supports events that commemorate that tragic day.
“Bloody Sunday tells a fantastic story of community spirit and how an entire city got behind brave families as they fought for justice against the might of the British state. That is something to cherish and celebrate.”
Although not opposing the allocation of funding, UUP Alderman Darren Guy said he felt the Bloody Sunday Trust ‘perhaps had a sense of entitlement.’
“The BST (Bloody Sunday Trust) knew that the 50th anniversary was happening in 2022, yet they chose to wait until now to submit a request for funding,” he said. “I do feel it is rather patronising to this council to submit the late funding application and perhaps even a sense of entitlement by the BST.
“The fact that council have decided to allow this extra funding request after the funding for the year had been allocated and agreeing to allow the corporate assistance of this council whilst Members voted disingenuously to remove it from the Centenary commemorations, I can’t help think that it sets a dangerous precedent going forward.
“There are so many 50th anniversaries approaching through the entirety of this council area, I would hope the same inclusiveness is shown towards various groups who are planning ahead for next year and beyond.”
Agreeing with Alderman Guy, Waterside DUP Alderman David Ramsey spoke of the suffering experienced by the families of all innocent victims of the Troubles, adding he felt that the council were becoming ‘embroiled more and more into one incident’.
He said: “No matter what anyone says we all know this was one of the biggest tragedies in 1972 and we know how many people lost their lives in that year.
“I think the issue for a lot of innocent victims from other parts of the city at the moment is the fact that council really have become engrossed in it and it has for a lot of people created a hierarchy and that for council is a big issue.
“No matter what, in the light of evidence to do with Claudy for example, we as a council have a duty because we are now going to have to get involved with the Claudy victims and call out all bodies involved going forward.
“The families of Bloody Sunday are the same as all the other families of those murdered throughout the Troubles. All the families have suffered the same and I think council are getting embroiled more and more into one incident and that’s why we as a council will corporately have to look through a motion which I will bring forward soon to try and work out how we can be totally inclusive and make all victims feel the same under our council corporate.
“There’s a feeling in the community that reconciliation is what we need to strive for and council is where it needs to start from.”
Despite the comments from the unionist councillors, all committee Members voted unanimously to allocate the funding of £50,000.