John Hume has told the Bloody Sunday inquiry of the apprehension he felt before the Bloody Sunday march. The anti-internment march ended with the fatal shooting of 13 people by British paratroopers.
Giving evidence to the Tribunal for the first time, the former SDLP leader challenged it to find out who was behind the deployment of the troops in Derry on the day of the shootings, and what orders they had been given. He said that the answers would produce the real results of the inquiry.
John Hume told the Saville Inquiry in Derry today that 30 January, 1972, was the worst day in the history of the city.
The former SDLP leader said in his evidence that, although he was a founding member of the Civil Rights Movement, he did not take part in the Bloody Sunday march. He said that he made the decision not to take part because of events at Magilligan Strand on the coastline near Derry a week previously.
There had been a confrontation between British soldiers and civil rights marchers on the strand. Mr Hume said that he had been astonished by the very rough and aggressive behaviour of the British soldiers.
Mr Hume said that he was very worried about what would happen if a march were held in the built up streets of Derry. He said that he actively tried to persuade people not to have a march on Bloody Sunday and not to attend it.
Mr Hume said that he watched from his home as large crowds of people turned out to support the parade on the afternoon of the march. He said that he could remember the despair of thinking that no one was listening to him any more and feeling this would be the end of him in political terms.
Mr Hume said that he believed that, unlike the original Widgery Tribunal, this inquiry could get to the truth of what really happened on Bloody Sunday.