Bereaved families set for second Time for Truth march in Belfast

A group of families bereaved by incidents from Northern Ireland’s troubled past have urged solidarity as they prepare for a march for truth.

The second Time for Truth march will take place in Belfast next month.

It follows an event last year at which an estimated 7,000 people turned out to support three demands for truth about the past.

Since then the campaign has collected 15,000 signatures on a petition in support.

‘Time for Truth’ march
The first Time for Truth march in February 2018 (Brian Lawless/PA)

Organiser Ciaran McAirt said the march is a response to what he termed the UK Government’s “continued failure to deal with the legacy of the past”.

The three demands of the Time for Truth campaign are the implementation of legacy mechanism agreed at Stormont House in 2014, funding to clear the backlog of legacy inquests, and the funding of the Police Ombudsman’s Office to complete outstanding legacy investigations.

Mr McAirt and a number of families came together at Culterlann cultural centre on the Falls Road in west Belfast on Thursday to urge solidarity, issuing a plea to “walk with us” on Sunday.

He said some of the families have been waiting for more than 50 years to find out the truth about what happened to their loved ones.

Ciaran McAirt announces a second march (Rebecca Black/PA)

Mr McAirt is the grandson of Kathleen Irvine, one of 15 people killed in the UVF’s bombing of McGurk’s bar in 1971.

He told the launch of the second march that younger generations will carry on the quest for truth.

“We believe the British Government’s strategy here is fairly stark, it’s deny, delay and death, whereby they are hoping that family members such as ourselves will go to our graves and our children and grandchildren will not have the same fire in their belly for dealing with this and the campaigns will go away,” he said.

“We are not going to stand for it, this strategy has done nothing other than re-traumatise victims and survivors and has introduced the unfinished business of legacy to future generations of family members who are intent on obtaining truth and justice just as we are.”

He concluded by saying: “Will you walk with us on Sunday June 9?”

Those in attendance included Harry Gargan, whose sister Margaret died at the age of 13 after being struck by a soldier’s bullet in west Belfast in 1972.

Harry Gargan (Rebecca Black/PA)

“Margaret was 13 when she was killed, her and me were in a community centre with my father, my father asked her to go round and check on the other kids in the house, and that’s when she was shot dead by the Army,” he said.

“The next time I saw Margaret she was lying on a sheet on corrugated metal at a neighbour’s house with a bullet wound to her head.

“We were very close, but Margaret also had a twin sister Bernadette, and besides my mother she took it worse. My mother suffered from Margaret’s death, she died at 57 from a heart attack.

“My family want another inquest because I can still remember, even though I was only 12, coming back from the inquest where someone from the Ministry of Defence read a statement that they identified a 13-year-old girl as an 18-year-old gunman.

“t was like she died again, they could never get over that. My mother was never the same.

“But after all these years I think that now it is starting to move a bit, and when you are on a march for truth, you know you are not alone.”

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