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Bloody Sunday (1972)

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Subject: Provisional Irish Republican Army, 1978 British Army Gazelle downing, The Troubles, John Duddy, Ballymurphy Massacre
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Bloody Sunday (1972)

Bloody Sunday
Part of the Troubles
Father Edward Daly waving a blood-stained white handkerchief while trying to escort the mortally wounded Jackie Duddy to safety.
Location Derry, County Londonderry
Date 30 January 1972
Attack type
Weapons L1A1 SLR rifles
Deaths 14 (13 immediate, 1 died 4½ months later)
Non-fatal injuries
14 (12 from gunshots and two from vehicle impact). Possibly also three from other injuries.
Perpetrators British Army
(mostly Parachute Regiment)

Bloody Sunday – sometimes called the Bogside Massacre[1] – was an incident on 30 January 1972 in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and the Northern Resistance Movement.[4] The soldiers involved were mostly members of the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment, also known as "1 Para".[5]

Two investigations have been held by the British government. The Widgery Tribunal, held in the immediate aftermath of the incident, largely cleared the soldiers and British authorities of blame—John Widgery described the soldiers' shooting as "bordering on the reckless"—but was widely criticised as a "whitewash".[6][7][8] The Saville Inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate, was established in 1998 to reinvestigate the incident. Following a 12-year inquiry, Saville's report was made public on 15 June 2010, and contained findings of fault that could re-open the controversy, and potentially lead to criminal investigations for some soldiers involved in the killings.[9] The report found that all of those shot were unarmed, and that the killings were both "unjustified and unjustifiable." On the publication of the Saville report the British prime minister, David Cameron, made a formal apology on behalf of the United Kingdom.[10]

The [11] Bloody Sunday remains among the most significant events in "the Troubles" because of the high number of casualties and fatalities caused by British soldiers in full view of the public and the press.[1]


The City of Derry was perceived by many Catholics and Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) in the late 1960s and it was in Derry that the so-called Battle of the Bogside – the event that more than any other pushed the Northern Ireland administration to ask for military support for civil policing – took place in August 1969.[13]

While many Catholics initially welcomed the British Army as a neutral force, in contrast to what was regarded as a sectarian police force, relations between them soon deteriorated.[14]

In response to escalating levels of violence across Northern Ireland, internment without trial was introduced on 9 August 1971.[15] There was disorder across Northern Ireland following the introduction of internment, with 21 people being killed in three days of rioting.[16] On 10 August, Bombardier Paul Challenor became the first soldier to be killed by the Provisional IRA in Derry, when he was shot by a sniper on the Creggan estate.[17] A further six soldiers had been killed in Derry by mid-December 1971.[18] 1,332 rounds were fired at the British Army, who also faced 211 explosions and 180 nail bombs[18] and who fired 364 rounds in return.

Provisional IRA activity also increased across Northern Ireland with thirty British soldiers being killed in the remaining months of 1971, in contrast to the ten soldiers killed during the pre-internment period of the year.[16] Both the Official IRA and Provisional IRA had established no-go areas for the British Army and RUC in Derry through the use of barricades.[19] By the end of 1971, 29 barricades were in place to prevent access to what was known as Free Derry, 16 of them impassable even to the British Army's one-ton armoured vehicles.[19] IRA members openly mounted roadblocks in front of the media, and daily clashes took place between nationalist youths and the British Army at a spot known as "aggro corner".[19] Due to rioting and damage to shops caused by incendiary devices, an estimated total of £4 million worth of damage had been done to local businesses.[19]

In January 1972 the NICRA intended, despite the ban, to organise a march in Derry to protest against internment. The authorities, who knew of the proposed march, decided to allow it to proceed in the Catholic areas of the city, but to stop it from reaching Robert Ford, then Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland, ordered that the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment (1 PARA), should travel to Derry to be used to arrest possible rioters during the march.[20] 1 PARA arrived in Derry on the morning of Sunday 30 January 1972 and took up positions in the city.[21]

Events of the day

Westland Street in the Bogside viewed from the city wall, 2007

Many details of the day's events are in dispute, with no agreement even on the number of marchers present that day. The organisers, "Insight", claimed that there were 30,000 marchers; Lord Widgery, in his now discredited tribunal,[22][23][24][25] said that there were only 3,000 to 5,000. In The Road To Bloody Sunday, local GP Dr Raymond McClean estimated the crowd as 15,000,[26] which is the figure that was used by Bernadette Devlin in Parliament.[27]

Numerous books and articles have been written and documentary films have been made on the subject.[28]

The people planned on marching to the Guildhall, but because of British Army barricades designed to reroute the march, the protesters redirected it to Free Derry Corner. A group of teenagers broke off from the march and persisted in pushing the barricade and marching on the Guildhall. They attacked the barricade with stones. At this point, a water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets were used to disperse the rioters. Such confrontations between soldiers and youths were common, and observers reported that the rioting was not intense.[29] Two civilians, Damien Donaghy and John Johnston, were shot and wounded on William Street by soldiers, who claimed that the former was carrying a black cylindrical object.[30]

Reports of an IRA sniper operating in the area were allegedly given to the British Army command centre at some point. At 4:07 pm Brigade gave the Parachute Regiment permission to go into the Bogside. The order to fire live rounds was given,[31] and one young man was shot and killed when he ran down Chamberlain Street away from the advancing troops. This first fatality, Jackie Duddy, was among a crowd who were running away. He was running alongside a priest, Father Edward Daly, when he was shot in the back.[32] Eventually the order was given to mobilise the troops in an arrest operation, chasing the tail of the main group of marchers to the edge of the field by Free Derry Corner.

Despite a cease-fire order from the army HQ, over 100 rounds were fired directly into the fleeing crowds by troops under the command of Major Ted Loden. Twelve more were killed,[33] many of them as they attempted to aid the fallen. Fourteen others were wounded, 12 by shots from the soldiers and two knocked down by armoured personnel carriers.

The dead

Belt worn by Patrick Doherty. The notch was made by the bullet that killed him.[34]
Mural by Bogside Artists depicting all who were killed by the British Army on the day
  • Jackie Duddy, age 17. Shot in the chest in the car park of Rossville flats. Four witnesses stated Duddy was unarmed and running away from the paratroopers when he was killed. Three of them saw a soldier take deliberate aim at the youth as he ran. His nephew is boxer John Duddy.[32]
  • Patrick Joseph Doherty, age 31. Shot from behind while attempting to crawl to safety in the forecourt of Rossville flats. Doherty was the subject of a series of photographs, taken before and after he died by French journalist Gilles Peress. Despite testimony from "Soldier F" that he had fired at a man holding and firing a pistol, Widgery acknowledged that the photographs showed Doherty was unarmed, and that forensic tests on his hands for gunshot residue proved negative.[32][35]
  • Bernard McGuigan, age 41. Shot in the back of the head when he went to help Patrick Doherty. He had been waving a white handkerchief at the soldiers to indicate his peaceful intentions.[5]
  • Hugh Pius Gilmour, age 17. Shot through his right elbow, the bullet then entering his chest as he ran from the paratroopers on Rossville Street.[32] Widgery acknowledged that a photograph taken seconds after Gilmour was hit corroborated witness reports that he was unarmed, and that tests for gunshot residue were negative.[5]
  • Kevin McElhinney, age 17. Shot from behind while attempting to crawl to safety at the front entrance of the Rossville Flats. Two witnesses stated McElhinney was unarmed.[32]
  • Michael Gerald Kelly, age 17. Shot in the stomach while standing near the rubble barricade in front of Rossville Flats. Widgery accepted that Kelly was unarmed.[32]
  • John Pius Young, age 17. Shot in the head while standing at the rubble barricade. Two witnesses stated Young was unarmed.[32]
  • William Noel Nash, age 19. Shot in the chest near the barricade. Witnesses stated Nash was unarmed and going to the aid of another when killed.[32]
  • Michael M. McDaid, age 20. Shot in the face at the barricade as he was walking away from the paratroopers. The trajectory of the bullet indicated he could have been killed by soldiers positioned on the Derry Walls.[32]
  • William Anthony McKinney, age 26. Shot through the upper right back, with the bullet then exiting through his lower left chest[36] as he attempted to flee through Glenfada Park.[37][38]
  • James Joseph Wray, age 22. Wounded then shot again at close range while lying on the ground. Witnesses who were not called to the Widgery Tribunal stated that Wray was calling out that he could not move his legs before he was shot the second time.[32]
  • Gerald Donaghey, age 17. Shot in the stomach while attempting to run to safety between Glenfada Park and Abbey Park. Donaghey was brought to a nearby house by bystanders where he was examined by a doctor. His pockets were turned out in an effort to identify him. A later police photograph of Donaghey's corpse showed nail bombs in his pockets. Neither those who searched his pockets in the house nor the British army medical officer (Soldier 138) who pronounced him dead shortly afterwards say they saw any bombs. Donaghey had been a member of Fianna Éireann, an IRA-linked republican youth movement.[32] Paddy Ward, a police informer[39] who gave evidence at the Saville Inquiry, claimed that he had given two nail bombs to Donaghey several hours before he was shot dead.[40]
  • Gerard (James) McKinney, age 35. Shot just after Gerald Donaghey. Witnesses stated that McKinney had been running behind Donaghey, and he stopped and held up his arms, shouting "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!", when he saw Donaghey fall. He was then shot in the chest.[32]
  • John Johnston, age 59. Shot in the leg and left shoulder on William Street 15 minutes before the rest of the shooting started.[32][41] Johnston was not on the march, but on his way to visit a friend in Glenfada Park.[41] He died 4½ months later; his death has been attributed to the injuries he received on the day. He was the only one not to die immediately or soon after being shot.[32]


Thirteen people were shot and killed, with another man later dying of his wounds. The official army position, backed by the British Home Secretary the next day in the House of Commons, was that the paratroopers had reacted to gun and nail bomb attacks from suspected IRA members. All eyewitnesses (apart from the soldiers), including marchers, local residents, and British and Irish journalists present, maintain that soldiers fired into an unarmed crowd, or were aiming at fleeing people and those tending the wounded, whereas the soldiers themselves were not fired upon. No British soldier was wounded by gunfire or reported any injuries, nor were any bullets or nail bombs recovered to back up their claims.

On February 2, the day 12 out of the 13 killed were buried, there was a general strike in the Republic, described as the biggest general strike in Europe since the Second World War relative to population.[42] Memorial services were held in Catholic and Protestant churches, as well as synagogues, throughout the Republic. The same day, irate crowds burned down the British embassy on Merrion Square in Dublin.[43] Anglo-Irish relations hit one of their lowest ebbs, with the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Patrick Hillery, going specially to the United Nations in New York to demand UN involvement in the Northern Ireland "Troubles".[44]

Although there were many IRA men—both Official and Provisional—present at the protest, it is claimed they were all unarmed, apparently because it was anticipated that the paratroopers would attempt to "draw them out".[45] March organiser and MP Ivan Cooper had been promised beforehand that no armed IRA men would be near the march. One paratrooper who gave evidence at the Tribunal testified that they were told by an officer to expect a gunfight and "We want some kills".[46] In the event, one man was witnessed by Father Edward Daly and others haphazardly firing a revolver in the direction of the paratroopers. Later identified as a member of the Official IRA, this man was also photographed in the act of drawing his weapon, but was apparently not seen or targeted by the soldiers. Various other claims have been made to the Saville Inquiry about gunmen on the day.[47]

The city's coroner, retired British Army Major Hubert O'Neill, issued a statement on 21 August 1973, at the completion of the inquest into the people killed.[48] He declared:

This Sunday became known as Bloody Sunday and bloody it was. It was quite unnecessary. It strikes me that the Army ran amok that day and shot without thinking what they were doing. They were shooting innocent people. These people may have been taking part in a march that was banned but that does not justify the troops coming in and firing live rounds indiscriminately. I would say without hesitation that it was sheer, unadulterated murder. It was murder.

Two days after Bloody Sunday, the Westminster Parliament adopted a resolution for a tribunal into the events of the day, resulting in Prime Minister Edward Heath commissioning the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery, to undertake it. Many witnesses intended to boycott the tribunal as they lacked faith in Widgery's impartiality, but were eventually persuaded to take part. Widgery's quickly-produced report—completed within ten weeks (10 April) and published within eleven (19 April)—supported the Army's account of the events of the day. Among the evidence presented to the tribunal were the results of paraffin tests, used to identify lead residues from firing weapons, and that nail bombs had been found on the body of one of those killed. Tests for traces of explosives on the clothes of eleven of the dead proved negative, while those of the remaining man could not be tested as they had already been washed. Most witnesses to the event disputed the report's conclusions and regarded it as a whitewash. It has been argued that firearms residue on some deceased may have come from contact with the soldiers who themselves moved some of the bodies, or that the presence of lead on the hands of one (James Wray) was easily explained by the fact that his occupation involved the use of lead-based solder. In fact, in 1992, John Major, writing to John Hume stated:

The Government made clear in 1974 that those who were killed on 'Bloody Sunday' should be regarded as innocent of any allegation that they were shot whilst handling firearms or explosives. I hope that the families of those who died will accept that assurance.[49]
The 35th Bloody Sunday memorial march in Derry, 28 January 2007

Following the events of Bloody Sunday Bernadette Devlin, an Independent Socialist nationalist MP from Northern Ireland, expressed anger at what she perceived as government attempts to stifle accounts being reported about the day. Having witnessed the events firsthand, she was later infuriated that Speaker Selwyn Lloyd consistently denied her the chance to speak in Parliament about the day, although parliamentary convention decreed that any MP witnessing an incident under discussion would be granted an opportunity to speak about it in the House.[50][51] Devlin punched Reginald Maudling, the Secretary of State for the Home Department in the Conservative government, when he made a statement to Parliament on the events of Bloody Sunday stating that the British Army had fired only in self-defence.[52] She was temporarily suspended from Parliament as a result of the incident.[53] Nonetheless, six months after Bloody Sunday, Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford who was directly in charge of 1 Para, the soldiers who went into the Bogside, was awarded the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, while other soldiers were also decorated with honours for their actions on the day.[54]

In January 1997, the United Kingdom television station Channel 4 carried a news report that suggested that members of the Royal Anglian Regiment had also opened fire on the protesters and could have been responsible for three of the fourteen deaths.

On 29 May 2007, General (then Captain) Sir Mike Jackson, second-in-command of 1 Para on Bloody Sunday, said: "I have no doubt that innocent people were shot".[55] This was in sharp contrast to his insistence, for more than 30 years, that those killed on the day had not been innocent.[56] In 2008 a former aide to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell, described Widgery as a "complete and utter whitewash".[57] In 1998 Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford expressed his anger at Tony Blair's intention of setting up the Saville inquiry, citing he was proud of his actions on Bloody Sunday.[58] Two years later in 2000 during an interview with the BBC, Wilford said "There might have been things wrong in the sense that some innocent people, people who were not carrying a weapon, were wounded or even killed. But that was not done as a deliberate malicious act. It was done as an act of war."[59]

The Saville Inquiry

The city Guildhall, home to the Inquiry

Although British Prime Minister John Major rejected John Hume's requests for a public inquiry into the killings, his successor, Tony Blair, decided to start one. A second commission of inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville, was established in January 1998 to re-examine Bloody Sunday. The other judges were John Toohey QC, a former Justice of the High Court of Australia who had worked on Aboriginal issues (he replaced New Zealander Sir Edward Somers QC, who retired from the Inquiry in 2000 for personal reasons), and Mr Justice William Hoyt QC, former Chief Justice of New Brunswick and a member of the Canadian Judicial Council. The hearings were concluded in November 2004, and the report was published 15 June 2010. The Saville Inquiry was a more comprehensive study than the Widgery Tribunal, interviewing a wide range of witnesses, including local residents, soldiers, journalists and politicians. Lord Saville declined to comment on the Widgery report and made the point that the Saville Inquiry was a judicial inquiry into Bloody Sunday, not the Widgery Tribunal.

Evidence given by Martin McGuinness, a senior member of Sinn Féin and now the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, to the inquiry stated that he was second-in-command of the Derry City brigade of the Provisional IRA and was present at the march. He did not answer questions about where he had been staying because he said it would compromise the safety of the individuals involved.

A claim was made at the Saville Inquiry that McGuinness was responsible for supplying detonators for nail bombs on Bloody Sunday. Paddy Ward claimed he was the leader of the [40]

Many observers allege that the Ministry of Defence acted in a way to impede the inquiry.[60] Over 1,000 army photographs and original army helicopter video footage were never made available. Additionally, guns used on the day by the soldiers that could have been evidence in the inquiry were lost by the MoD.[61][62] The MoD claimed that all the guns had been destroyed, but some were subsequently recovered in various locations (such as Sierra Leone and Beirut) despite the obstruction.[63]

By the time the inquiry had retired to write up its findings, it had interviewed over 900 witnesses, over seven years, making it the biggest investigation in British legal history.[62] The cost of this process has drawn criticism; as of the publication of the Saville Report being £195 million.[64]

Banner and crosses carried by the families of the victims on the annual commemoration march

The inquiry was expected to report in late 2009 but was delayed until after the general election on 6 May 2010.[65]

The report of the inquiry[66] was published on 15 June 2010. The report concluded, "The firing by soldiers of 1 PARA on Bloody Sunday caused the deaths of 13 people and injury to a similar number, none of whom was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury."[67] Saville stated that British paratroopers "lost control", fatally shooting fleeing civilians and those who tried to aid civilians who had been shot by the British soldiers.[68] The report stated that British soldiers had concocted lies in their attempt to hide their acts.[68] Saville stated that the civilians had not been warned by the British soldiers that they intended to shoot.[69] The report states, contrary to the previously established belief, that no stones and no petrol bombs were thrown by civilians before British soldiers shot at them, and that the civilians were not posing any threat.[68]

The report concluded that an Official IRA sniper fired on British soldiers, albeit that on the balance of evidence his shot was fired after the Army shots that wounded Damien Donaghey and John Johnston. The Inquiry rejected the sniper's account that this shot had been made in reprisal, stating the view that he and another Official IRA member had already been in position, and the shot had probably been fired simply because the opportunity had presented itself.[70] Ultimately the Saville Inquiry was inconclusive on Martin McGuinness' role, due to a lack of certainty over his movements, concluding that while he was "engaged in paramilitary activity" during Bloody Sunday, and had probably been armed with a Thompson submachine gun, there was insufficient evidence to make any finding other than they were "sure that he did not engage in any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire".[71]

Regarding the soldiers in charge on the day of Bloody Sunday, the Saville Inquiry arrived at the following findings:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford: Commander of 1 Para and directly responsible for arresting rioters and returning to base. Found to have 'deliberately disobeyed' his superior Brigadier Patrick MacLellan's orders by sending Support Company into the Bogside (and without informing MacLellan).[54]
  • Major Ted Loden: Commander in charge of soldiers, following orders issued by Lieutenant Colonel Wilford. Cleared of misconduct; Saville cited in the report that Loden "neither realised nor should have realised that his soldiers were or might be firing at people who were not posing or about to pose a threat".[54] The inquiry found that Loden could not be held responsible for claims (whether malicious or not) by some of the individual soldiers that they had received fire from snipers.
  • Captain Mike Jackson: Second in command of 1 Para on the day of Bloody Sunday. Cleared of sinister actions following Jackson's compiling of a list of what soldiers told Major Loden on why they had fired. This list became known as the "Loden List of Engagements" which played a role in the Army's initial explanations. While the inquiry found the compiling of the list was 'far from ideal', Jackson's explanations were accepted based on the list not containing the names of soldiers and the number of times they fired.[54]
  • Major General Robert Ford: Commander of land forces and set the British strategy to oversee the civil march in Derry. Cleared of any fault, but his selection of 1 Para, and in particular his selection of Colonel Wilford to be in control of arresting rioters, was found to be disconcerting, specifically as "1 PARA was a force with a reputation for using excessive physical violence, which thus ran the risk of exacerbating the tensions between the Army and nationalists".[54]
  • Brigadier Pat MacLellan: Operational commander of the day. Cleared of any wrongdoing as he was under the impression that Wilford would follow orders by arresting rioters and then returning to base, and could not be blamed for Wilford's actions.[54]
  • Major Michael Steele: With MacLellan in the operations room and in charge of passing on the orders of the day. The inquiry report accepted that Steele could not believe other than that a separation had been achieved between rioters and marchers, because both groups were in different areas.[72]
  • Other soldiers: Lance Corporal F was found responsible for a number of the deaths and that a number of soldiers have "knowingly put forward false accounts in order to seek to justify their firing".[54]
  • Intelligence officer Colonel Maurice Tugwell and Colin Wallace, (an IPU army press officer): Cleared of wrongdoing. Saville believed the information Tugwell and Wallace released through the media was not down to any deliberate attempt to deceive the public but rather due to much of the inaccurate information Tugwell had received at the time by various other figures.[73]

Reporting on the findings of the Saville Inquiry in the House of Commons, the British Prime Minister David Cameron said:

"Mr Speaker, I am deeply patriotic. I never want to believe anything bad about our country. I never want to call into question the behaviour of our soldiers and our army, who I believe to be the finest in the world. And I have seen for myself the very difficult and dangerous circumstances in which we ask our soldiers to serve. But the conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt, there is nothing equivocal, there are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong."[74]

Impact on Northern Ireland divisions

Bloody Sunday memorial in the Bogside

Harold Wilson, then the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, reiterated his belief that a united Ireland was the only possible solution to Northern Ireland's Troubles. William Craig, then Stormont Home Affairs Minister, suggested that the west bank of Derry should be ceded to the Republic of Ireland.

When it was deployed on duty in Northern Ireland, the British Army was welcomed by Roman Catholics as a neutral force there to protect them from Protestant mobs, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the B-Specials.[75] After Bloody Sunday many Catholics turned on the British army, seeing it no longer as their protector but as their enemy. Young nationalists became increasingly attracted to violent republican groups. With the Official IRA and Official Sinn Féin having moved away from mainstream Irish republicanism towards Marxism, the Provisional IRA began to win the support of newly radicalised, disaffected young people.

In the following twenty years, the Provisional Irish Republican Army and other smaller republican groups such as the Irish unionist/Ulster loyalist communities (the Ulster Defence Association, Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), etc. on the loyalist side), the Troubles cost the lives of thousands of people. Incidents included the killing by the Provisionals of eighteen members of the Parachute Regiment in the Warrenpoint Ambush – seen by some as revenge for Bloody Sunday.

With the official cessation of violence by some of the major paramilitary organisations and the creation of the power-sharing executive at Stormont in Belfast under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the Saville Inquiry's re-examination of the events of that day is widely hoped to provide a thorough account of the events of Bloody Sunday.

In his speech to the House of Commons on the Inquiry, British Prime Minister David Cameron stated: "These are shocking conclusions to read and shocking words to have to say. But you do not defend the British Army by defending the indefensible."[76] He acknowledged that all those who died were unarmed when they were killed by British soldiers, and that a British soldier had fired the first shot at civilians. He also said that this was not a premeditated action, though "there was no point in trying to soften or equivocate" as "what happened should never, ever have happened". Cameron then apologised on behalf of the British Government by saying he was "deeply sorry".

A survey conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion in June 2010 found that 61 per cent of Britons and 70 per cent of Northern Irish agreed with Cameron's apology for the Bloody Sunday events.[77]

Stephen Pollard, solicitor representing several of the soldiers, said on 15 June 2010 that Saville had cherry-picked the evidence and did not have justification for his findings.[78]

Parachute Regiment flag and the Union flag flying in Ballymena.

In 2012 an actively serving British army soldier from Belfast was charged with inciting hatred by a surviving relative of the deceased, due to their online use of social media to promote sectarian slogans about the killings while featuring banners of the Parachute Regiment logo.[79]

In January 2013, shortly before the annual Bloody Sunday remembrance march, two Parachute Regiment flags appeared in the loyalist Fountain, and Waterside, Drumahoe areas of Derry. The display of the flags was heavily criticised by nationalist politicians and relatives of the Bloody Sunday dead.[80] The Ministry of Defence also condemned the flying of the flags.[81] The flags were removed to be replaced by Union Flags.[82] In the run up to the loyalist marching season in 2013 the flag of the Parachute Regiment appeared alongside other loyalist flags in other parts of Northern Ireland. In 2014 loyalists in Cookstown erected the flags in opposition, close to the route of a St.Patrick's Day parade in the town.[83]

Artistic reaction

Paul McCartney (who is of Irish descent)[84] recorded the first song in response only two days after the incident. The single entitled "Give Ireland Back to the Irish", expressed his views on the matter. It was one of a few McCartney solo songs to be banned by the BBC.[85]

The John Lennon album Some Time in New York City features a song entitled "Sunday Bloody Sunday", inspired by the incident, as well as the song "The Luck of the Irish", which dealt more with the Irish conflict in general. Lennon, who was of Irish descent, also spoke at a protest in New York in support of the victims and families of Bloody Sunday.[86]

The incident has been commemorated by Irish band, U2, in their 1983 protest song "Sunday Bloody Sunday".[87]

The North-Irish punk rock band Stiff Little Fingers recorded the song "Bloody Sunday", in their reissued album Nobody's Heroes in 2001.

The Roy Harper song "All Ireland" from the album Lifemask, written in the days following the incident, is critical of the military but takes a long term view with regard to a solution. In Harper's book (The Passions of Great Fortune), his comment on the song ends "…there must always be some hope that the children of 'Bloody Sunday', on both sides, can grow into some wisdom".

Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler (also of Irish descent) wrote the lyrics to the Black Sabbath song "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" on the album of the same name in 1973. Butler stated, "…the Sunday Bloody Sunday thing had just happened in Ireland, when the British troops opened fire on the Irish demonstrators… So I came up with the title 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath', and sort of put it in how the band was feeling at the time, getting away from management, mixed with the state Ireland was in."[88]

Christy Moore's song "Minds Locked Shut" on the album Graffiti Tongue is all about the events of the day, and names the dead civilians.[89]

The Celtic metal band Cruachan addressed the incident in a song "Bloody Sunday" from their 2004 album Folk-Lore.[90]

The events of the day have been dramatised in two 2002 television films, Bloody Sunday (starring James Nesbitt) and Sunday by Jimmy McGovern.[87]

Brian Friel's 1973 play The Freedom of the City deals with the incident from the viewpoint of three civilians.[87]

Irish poet Thomas Kinsella's 1972 poem Butcher's Dozen is a satirical and angry response to the Widgery Tribunal and the events of Bloody Sunday.

Irish poet Seamus Heaney's Casualty (published in Field Work, 1981) criticizes Britain for the death of his friend.

Willie Doherty, a Derry-born artist, has amassed a large body of work which addresses the troubles in Northern Ireland. "30 January 1972" deals specifically with the events of Bloody Sunday.[87]

In mid-2005, the play Bloody Sunday: Scenes from the Saville Inquiry, a dramatisation based on the Saville Inquiry, opened in London, and subsequently travelled to Derry and Dublin.[91][92] The writer, journalist Richard Norton-Taylor, distilled four years of evidence into two hours of stage performance by Tricycle Theatre. The play received glowing reviews in all the British broadsheets, including The Times: "The Tricycle's latest recreation of a major inquiry is its most devastating"; The Daily Telegraph: "I can't praise this enthralling production too highly… exceptionally gripping courtroom drama"; and The Independent: "A necessary triumph".[93]

Swedish troubadour Fred Åkerström wrote a song called "Den 30/1-72" about the incident.

In October 2010, T with the Maggies released the song Domhnach na Fola (Irish for Bloody Sunday), written by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill on their debut album.


  1. ^ a b pp. 4–6
  2. ^ 'Bloody Sunday', Derry 30 January 1972 – Names of the Dead and Injured CAIN Web Service, 23 March 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2006.
  3. ^ Extracts from 'The Road to Bloody Sunday' by Dr Raymond McClean. Retrieved 16 February 2007.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ P. 293: "Youngsters who had seen their friends die that day flocked to join the IRA…"
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b Brits, p. 84.
  19. ^ a b c d Brits, p. 82.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ P. 100: "…the level of rioting was no greater than usual – and no petrol bombs or nail bombs were being thrown."
  30. ^ P 116: "Seconds after the corporal fired, he would say that he spotted the same man with a black cylindrical object in one hand strike what appeared to be a match against the wall. Johnston was standing a few feet from Donaghy. One of the bullets sliced through his right thigh."
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ (page 10 of 26)
  37. ^ pages 14 & 147 of 630
  38. ^ (page 5 of 26)
  39. ^ Death of 'informer' – Local – Derry Journal
  40. ^ a b
  41. ^ a b Brits, p. 96.
  42. ^
  43. ^ 1972: British embassy in Dublin destroyed BBC News Online. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
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  46. ^ The Irish War: The Hidden Conflict Between the IRA and British Intelligence, p. 65.
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  48. ^ 'Bloody Sunday', 30 January 1972 – A Chronology of Events CAIN Web Service, 23 March 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2006.
  49. ^
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  53. ^
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  56. ^ "Bloody Sunday victims innocent says Jackson", Irish News (Belfast newspaper), 29 May 2007, pp. 1 and 11.
  57. ^
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  70. ^
  71. ^
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  74. ^
  75. ^ This "Honeymoon period", as it has come to be known, ended around the time of the Falls Road Curfew on 3 July 1970. See CAIN for details here [1]. The 'B-Specials' were disbanded and replaced by the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) on 1 April 1970.
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  77. ^
  78. ^
  79. ^
  80. ^ "Para Flag Fury" Derry Journal 18 January 2013 Retrieved 11 February 2013
  81. ^ "Army condemns ‘irresponsible, disrespectful’ use of its flags" The Newsletter
  82. ^ Belfast Telegraph"Parachute Regiment flags flown in Derry as plans are laid to target concert" 19 January 2013
  83. ^ Tyrone Times"Parachute regiment flag erected in Cookstown as tensions mount ahead of St Patrick’s Day"
  84. ^ Experience Festival McCartney bio
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  86. ^ Irish Genealogy John Lennon at New York protest.
  87. ^ Black Sabbath: Doom Let Loose, Martin Popoff; ECW Press, 2006.
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  • (extracts available online)
  • English, Richard. Armed Struggle;– A History of the IRA, MacMillan, London 2003, ISBN 1-4050-0108-9

External links

  • Madden & Finucane Bloody Sunday index
  • CAIN Web Service Bloody Sunday index
  • UTV Coverage: Bloody Sunday & The Saville Report
  • Guardian Coverage
  • Dáil debate on Bloody Sunday
  • The Widgery Report (from Cain website)
  • BBC Special Report
  • Programme of events commemorating Bloody Sunday – 2008
  • 1610: Soldiers open fire

The events of the day

  • BBC Interactive Guide
  • Guardian Interactive Guide
  • History – Bloody Sunday – Events of the Day Museum of Free Derry

Contemporary newspaper coverage

  • "13 killed as paratroops break riot" from The Guardian, Monday 31 January 1972
  • "Bogsiders insist that soldiers shot first" from The Guardian, Tuesday 1 February 1972

Importance and impact

  • "Shootings 'triggered decades of violence'" from The Guardian, Wednesday 16 May 2001
  • Britain Acknowledges "Bloody Sunday" Killings Were Unjustified and Apologizes to Victims’ Families – video report by Democracy Now!
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