Bloody Sunday 1972
The events of Bloody Sunday in the city of Derry would become one of the worst atrocities the city would ever experience. It would also lead to one of the biggest mistakes for the British in their fight to power Northern Ireland during the troubles.
Sunday January 30th 1972 started as any other Sunday in Derry but would end with tragedy and a population thrown into a dark backlash of opinion towards the British.
The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) organised a march to start at 3PM from the Bishops Field area of the Creggan. The march had already been deemed illegal by the British and from previous march’s the police force and the British proved too ruthless against peaceful demonstrators such as the attack on a civil rights march at Burntollet bridge. The plan for the march was to walk down Creggan Hill, into William Street and onto the Guildhall Square, in the City Centre area. Over 15,000 people attended the march which proceeded from Creggan. The marchers were singing songs with some describing it as a carnival like event. As they reached the William Street area the British Army had set-up barricades so the march was diverted into the Bogside and towards Free Derry Corner, a small area that isolated itself from the Northern Ireland state known as as no-go area for the British forces.
The Trouble Begins At The British Barricades
A number of youths broke away from the march and proceeded to try and pass the barricades. They hurled abuse at the British troops along with stones and in turn the troops fired back with rubber bullets, tear gas and a water canon. The riot wasn’t considered intense as only a small number of people had taken part, the majority of marchers were still making their way down Creggan Hill and into the Bogside area. At first the British soldiers stood their ground at the barricades until their Armoured Saracens passed the barricades at speed.
Paratroopers Storm The Bogside
The air in William street was full of C.S. gas so people were making their way to the meeting point at Free Derry Corner to avoid the confrontation at the barricades, it was then they could hear the distinctive sound of the Armoured Saracens that was heading towards the Bogside area.
Within a matter of minutes the British Paratroop Regiment jumped from their Armoured Saracens and opened fire into the fleeing crowds, gunning down 14 unarmed civilians. Statements from witness’s described how the Paratroopers fired indiscriminately into the crowd. They also describe how different people had been gunned down when fleeing, shot in the back by the British Paratroopers, don’t forget there had been over 15,000 people who had witnessed this event.
Civilians Murdered On Bloody Sunday
The list are the names and ages of the victims at Bloody Sunday:
Bernard McGuigan (41)
Gerard V. Donaghy (17)
Hugh P. Gilmore (17)
John F. Duddy (17)
James Mc Kinney (34)
James J. Wray (22)
John P. Young (17)
Kevin McElhinney (17)
Michael G. Kelly (17)
Michael M. McDaid (20)
Patrick J. Doherty (31)
William A. McKinney (27)
William N. Nash (19)
John Johnston (59)
The events of that day had been caught on camera by the press who had witnessed the tragedy first hand. Images sent shock waves around the world and also seen the fall of the Northern Ireland parliament, Stormont. Direct rule from England was brought in after the events of Bloody Sunday. The British set-up the Widgery Tribunal to find out about the events of that day, but it was quickly seen as a farce with many of the facts & statements being overlooked.
The people of Derry never accepted the Widgery Tribunal because of it being a farce and every year since 1972 they march the same route as those did on Bloody Sunday, even to this day the march is remembered with thousands in attendance. After 40,000 people signed a petition for a new inquiry in 1997 the British Government was under huge pressure to investigate the events that occurred on that day.
29 January 1998 U.K Prime Minister Tony Blair made a statement to the House Of Commons
“that a Tribunal be established for inquiring into a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely the events on Sunday 30 January 1972 which led to loss of life in connection with the procession in Londonderry on that day, taking account of any new information relevant to events on that day.”
The Bloody Sunday Inquiry was then launched but none of the members of the British Paratroop regiment had ever been found guilty for their crimes, even today. In 2010 the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, condemned the Bloody Sunday killings and made an apology.
History Video of Bloody Sunday
The aftermath of Bloody Sunday
When the British committed the atrocities that day they unleashed the IRA’s biggest recruitment drive and would pay the price for many years to come. Within a matter of hours hundreds of people across Derry signed up to the Provisional IRA to help fight against the British in Northern Ireland.