Museum of Free Derry removes exhibit following protests

Patrick Steel, 05.09.2017
Bloody Sunday Trust to meet protestors to agree way forward
The Museum of Free Derry is to temporarily remove an exhibit featuring the names of 53 people killed in the conflict in the Free Derry area from 1969 to 1972 following a sit-in protest by the relatives of two of the people on the list.

The list includes IRA volunteers and civilians as well as British army and police personnel. The protestors, Helen Deery and Linda Nash, object to the names of their relatives being included on the same list as the names of members of the state forces.

Deery and Nash left the museum yesterday following a week-long sit-in protest, after coming to an agreement with The Bloody Sunday Trust, which operates the museum. The exhibit will be suspended while discussions with an agreed facilitator take place to find a way forward.

The discussions are due to begin next Monday. In the meantime, the trust is to publish the results of a consultation into the exhibition, which went out to 34 families related to the names on the list. The museum said it did not have details for the families of British army personnel.

The list has been on public display at the museum since 2008, when it was created as part of community project, but caused controversy following its redisplay when the museum reopened in February this year following a £2.4m redevelopment project.

A demonstration outside the museum in June and a petition against the display, that the protesters claim garnered 1,000 names, led the museum to consult the families.

In a statement issued yesterday, the trust said: “The Bloody Sunday Trust, in an attempt to resolve the impasse, and in response to the expressed concerns about the health and wellbeing of the protesters, is prepared to remove, in the interim, the current exhibit, and redisplay it more in keeping with its original format.”

In a statement issued simultaneously with the trust’s, the protestors said: “Having submitted a number of proposals to the Bloody Sunday Trust earlier today, which were broadly accepted by the trust, we the two relatives involved with the sit in at the Museum of Free Derry decided to suspend our protest in order to facilitate a process of dialogue.

“For their part we also wish to acknowledge that the Bloody Sunday Trust, in the interim, agreed to remove the exhibit, which is at the centre of the controversy.

“We consider both gestures to have been made in good faith and in a spirit of creating positive conditions for dialogue.

“Consequently both parties have agreed to use the coming days to nominate a mediator with a view to starting a process of dialogue from next Monday 11 September.”

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