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Monday, 29 January, 2001, 08:46 GMT
Thousands attend Bloody Sunday rally
The rally was attended by relatives of victims
Relatives of victims took part in the march
Several thousand people have taken part in a commemoration march and rally in Londonderry to mark the 29th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

Thirteen Catholic men were shot dead by British soldiers during a civil rights march in the Bogside area of the city on 30 January 1972.

A 14th person died later from his injuries.

A wreath laying service and march to the republican monument, known as Free Derry Corner, took place on Sunday afternoon.

The main speaker at the rally, Sinn Fein's Sean McManus, said it was important that the Saville Inquiry cleared the names of those killed and wounded.

The inquiry, established by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998, is currently looking into events surrounding the 14 deaths.

"I hope that when the inquiry is concluded, the people who were murdered on Bloody Sunday, and their long-suffering families, will be vindicated," he said.

Central issue

The tribunal, which sits in public in the city's Guildhall, is chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate.

However, it will not sit again until Wednesday, the day after the actual anniversary of the shootings.

Meanwhile, another common theme during the rally was the contentious issue of police reform.

Mr MacManus said policing was the central issue in the current phase of political negotiations and much ground had still to be covered.

Close the gap

"Sinn Fein has made clear many times that we want a new policing service and we will not settle for anything less.

"If Tony Blair genuinely wants to persuade republicans to sign up to policing, then he needs to understand how critical, how emotive, how enormous this issue is.

"He needs to take the decisions that will close the gap around accountability, around getting rid of the mechanisms of repression, and take the stops necessary to give nationalists and republicans a sense of ownership of the new policing service."

The SDLP's Alex Attwood said the government had to respond to nationalist concerns about police reform.

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See also:

05 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
Claim over Bloody Sunday's 'first shot'
26 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
McGuinness will give inquiry evidence
26 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Bloody Sunday victim gives evidence
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