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Royal apology would help right Derry `insult'

THE families of the 14 men shot dead on Bloody Sunday have called on Queen Elizabeth to issue an apology.Tony Doherty, spokesman for the families, said the queen had insulted the dead by decorating Lt Col Derek Wilford - paratroopers commander in the Bogside on the day of the killings - with an OBE in 1973. The call followed a period of two minutes' silence at the Bloody Sunday memorial plinth on the 26th anniversary of the killings. Mr Doherty's statement was applauded by the crowd.

Just before 4pm the bells of St Eugene's Cathedral, overlooking the Bogside, rang out. Nearby, at Free Derry Corner, 14 black flags fluttered. After the silence, friends and relatives of those killed placed floral tributes at the memorial. Mr Doherty told the strong crowd the British Government should only apologise for Bloody Sunday when it was genuinely sorry for what happened.

FAMILIES

``However, I think there is somebody who should consider apologising at this stage for something which happened after Bloody Sunday and that is the Queen of England who decorated the murderers of our innocent dead.

``I would like now, on behalf of the families, to call on her to apologise to the people of Derry for what she did,'' he said. He did not want the queen to apologise for the killings.

``The Queen of England insulted the memory of the dead of Bloody Sunday by awarding Lt Col Wilford the OBE at the first possible opportunity after the massacre.

``By decorating the senior army personnel involved in the slaughter on that day it was clearly a calculated insult to the Nationalist people of Derry and to the families of the deceased of Bloody Sunday. I think it is a situation that can be reversed. I would call on the queen to apologise to the people of this city. If she did so it would help to unpick, so to speak, all the wrongs of Bloody Sunday.''

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