50 years ago in Derry-Londonderry the events of Bloody Sunday unfolded.
13 catholic men were shot dead by the British military, another died of his wounds later. They were on a civil rights march.
It took 38 years for the truth of that day to emerge in a public inquiry. When it was released prime minister David Cameron told parliament that the killings were ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’ and confirmed that all of those who died were unarmed. Crucially for the community of Bogside in Derry, he apologised.
Last week I went to Derry and sat with families of those who lost their lives. It was extremely emotional to listen to their stories. Their recollections of that day remain raw and vivid. The repercussions of it have impacted their lives profoundly. On behalf of the Labour Party I offered them my most sincere respects.
Bloody Sunday marked a sharp decline in the situation that became known as The Troubles. The families told me how they’d cheered the army when it first arrived, but of course that rapidly changed.
There are many lessons to be learned from this even 50 years on. Right now I write these words from my office in parliament with several books in front of me on this era which I’m doing my best to consume. After the experience of meeting the Bloody Sunday families and other victims of past sectarian violence, I owe it to them to learn as much as I possibly can in the hope this generation can make better decisions than those who went before.