Demand for Parachute Regiment apology amid Derry flags row as Bloody Sunday anniversary looms

Bogside, Derry

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has condemned the flying of Parachute Regiment flags on the outskirts of Londonderry and called on the regiment to apologise for the events of 1972.

In a statement, he said the regiment is "yet to apologise and condemn the actions of their soldiers on Bloody Sunday in Derry".

The MP said: "Fifty years ago this week the Parachute Regiment were sent to my city to murder 14 people. People who were unarmed, marching for civil rights."

"Last weekend Parachute Regiment flags were flown on the outskirts of Derry. The Parachute Regiment rightly condemned the flying of those flags as a grossly offensive act against the victims of Bloody Sunday.

A funeral procession for those who died on 'Bloody Sunday' lines the road leading from St Mary's Church, Creggan Hill. Credit: PA

"But yet, they have yet to apologise and condemn the actions of their soldiers on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972. Does the Secretary of State think they should?"

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis addressed the issue during Northern Ireland questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

He told MPs: "We, as the Government, have to accept responsibility for what has happened in the past. When things are wrong we need to be clear about that, as we have been. It's right that we have apologised for that.

"I've added my own personal apology to the Government's for that. That is something we also need to ensure, that we are all working together to find a way forward to ensure that people are clear that violence is not an answer to anything in Northern Ireland or elsewhere."

Boris Johnson also commented on the upcoming anniversary at Prime Minister Questions, ahead of the 50th anniversary of the deadly events of January 30, 1972.

“This Sunday marks a tragic day in our history, this was one of the darkest days of the troubles,” the PM told MPs.

“I echo his (the Northern Ireland Secretary) call to learn from the past, to reconcile and build a shared peaceful and prosperous future.”