LONDONDERRY, Northern Ireland (CN) – Kate Nash is a small, bustling woman – the kind of woman who might be a favorite aunt, the kind of woman who tells you family secrets and family lies. In her case, as an outspoken campaigner in this city still scarred by decades of sectarian violence, Nash talks about secrets and lies involving Bloody Sunday, the 1972 massacre that defined the conflict in Northern Ireland.
She hurries into the Museum of Free Derry – a place dedicated to Bloody Sunday and what happened in Derry, as it’s called by Catholics, during the Troubles. It's a wet spring day, and she's dressed in a pink coat and clutching an umbrella.
She ever so slightly shakes her head. “They don't like me in here,” she says in an undertone, quietly, a mischievous glint in the 70-year-old’s eye.
The museum, she says, is unofficially run by Sinn Féin and its supporters, and she says they've clashed over the years on a number of issues. She helps organize a march to commemorate Bloody Sunday and has pushed for investigations into what happened.
Sinn Féin is a dominant Northern Irish political party and also the former political wing of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, the paramilitary group that fought to overturn British rule in Northern Ireland.
She is here, though, to talk about the past and the present: about how her 19-year-old brother William was among 13 civilians killed by British soldiers on Jan. 30, 1972, during a Bloody Sunday civil rights march and about the pending prosecution of the first, and only, British soldier to be tried for murder in connection with the deaths in the massacre. Her father was also seriously wounded that day. The trial starts on Wednesday.
She begins to walk through the museum.
“Bloody Sunday happened in broad daylight in front of the world press,” she says. “And there's nothing quite like that. This is what [the British government] have been trying to cover up.”
The museum is a gallery of film footage and photographs, many of them gruesome, depicting the scenes of what happened on Bloody Sunday and in its wake.
“I remember scenes like this,” she says, pausing in front of a photograph depicting a row of coffins of Bloody Sunday victims inside a church. Mourners are pressed together.
“Sadness and anger, to tell you the truth,” she says about what she feels as she looks at the photographs of funerals. “It's the cover-up.”
Bloody Sunday was one of the most significant events during the decades-long conflict over Northern Ireland. Widely condemned as an atrocity, the killings fueled the sectarian conflict and gave rise to even more support for the IRA.
In its immediate wake, the British government set up a tribunal to investigate the shootings and concluded – wrongly – that British soldiers with the Parachute Regiment came under attack by IRA gunmen and returned fire. The same regiment is now under scrutiny for committing another massacre in Ballymurphy, a neighborhood of Belfast, in August 1971.