Bloody Sunday award may land Derry in court

24 May 01
Derry City Council is facing legal action because of a decision to award £385,000 of rental income from housing the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday to a group representing victims and their families.

25 May 2001

The Ulster Community Action Network (Ucan), a Protestant group, has engaged a barrister to advise whether a court case is likely to succeed. It argues that the decision discriminates in favour of Catholics.

Bloody Sunday – January 30, 1972 – was the day when the Army killed 13 civilians and shot another 13, one of whom later died, during a civil rights protest in the town. The Saville Inquiry has been running for three years, and has sat at Derry Guildhall for the past 12 months. It may run for a further two years.

The city council expects to earn £400,000 from renting the building to the inquiry and has granted most of it to the Bloody Sunday Trust for a permanent exhibition and as a contribution to the running of a temporary Bloody Sunday Centre. Northern Ireland's Equality Commission is considering the decision following a complaint by Ucan.

Ucan co-ordinator Mark Pilling said: 'We are not saying that the trust should not get any money. What we are saying is that the application procedure was wrong. It was not carried out according to local government rules and not with equality.'

This is denied by the Bloody Sunday Trust, which says any group could have approached the council for use of the income. It says it remains 'reasonably confident' that it will receive the grant in full.

Derry City Council said there had as yet been no legal challenge and that the grant-awarded activities of the trust would also be funded by other public bodies.


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