Monday 19 February 2018

Bloody Sunday handkerchief 'comfort blanket' for sister

A sister of one of the Bloody Sunday dead will grip the bloodstained handkerchief waved on the day as she is handed the long-awaited report into the killings.

Kay Duddy, 63, will grasp her "comfort blanket" as she reads the dramatic account of attempts by a priest to guide her dying brother out of the gunfire to help.

The image of four men carrying 17-year-old Jackie Duddy, the first person to be killed on the day, alongside the then Fr Edward Daly holding the hanky aloft as a white flag, has become the enduring image of the day.

"We'll all need the handkerchief," she said.

Ms Duddy has treasured the hanky for decades but handed it over to a small museum in Derry's Bogside last year after nearly losing it in an attempted mugging.

On her way to Mass in St Joseph's Church in Galliagh, near her Moss Park home, a hooded youngster unsuccessfully tried to snatch her handbag.

"I carried it with me in my handbag all the time," she said.

"When I got home I just burst into tears at the thought of nearly losing it."

But as anxiety started take its toll in the run-up to the publication of the Saville report, Ms Duddy went back to the Museum of Free Derry, across the road from where her brother was gunned down, and asked if she could have the hanky back for the day.

Ms Duddy said the simple piece of cloth that had covered her brother's wounds, and which was returned to her father Willie, along with Jackie's washed clothes, would give her some solace.

But only an outright exoneration for the 14 dead will allow Ms Duddy and, she says, the rest of the city to move on from one of the most pivotal events of the Troubles.

"I used to say that I've become synonymous with Bloody Sunday," she said.

"Now I want to become anonymous with the publication of this report."

Press Association

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