Remembering Bloody Sunday In Derry
On January 30th 1972 the British Parachute regiment murdered fourteen civil rights protestors in Derry.
In response to a civil rights march planned for Derry city, the British Government had decided to send in the parachute regiment to teach the people in Derry a lesson.
This notorious regiment had already murdered eleven civilians in Belfast in August 1971 in what became known as the Ballymurphy massacre. They had also been used to severely beat civil rights protestors in Magilligan Co Derry just a week before Bloody Sunday.
The march set off at about 2:45 pm. There were 10,000–15,000 people on the march, with many joining along its route. The march made its way along William Street but, as it neared the city centre, its path was blocked by British Army barriers. The organisers redirected the march down Rossville Street, intending to hold the rally at Free Derry Corner instead.
Some of the crowd spotted paratroopers occupying a derelict three-storey building overlooking William Street and began throwing stones at the windows. At about 3:55pm, these paratroopers opened fire. Civilians Damien Donaghy and John Johnston were shot and wounded while standing on waste ground opposite the building. These were the first shots fired.
At 4:07pm the paratroopers were ordered into the Bogside on foot and in armoured vehicles. They ran people over, beat people, and shot people. In ten short minutes over 100 rounds were fired by the soldiers.
In all, 28 people were shot by the paratroopers; 13 died on the day and another individual died of his injuries four months later. Most of the fatalities were killed in four main areas: the rubble barricades across Rossville Street, the courtyard car park of Rossville Flats (on the north side of the flats), the courtyard car park of Glenfada Park, and the forecourt of Rossville Flats (on the south side of the flats).
Almost immediately the British Government and the British Army spread the lie that those killed were IRA men who had attacked the parachute regiment with nail bombs and guns even though not one British soldier had been injured nor were any bullets or nail bombs recovered to back up their claims.
Bloody Sunday caused revulsion around the world, in the 26 counties a general strike was held on February 2nd, it was described as the biggest general strike in Europe since the Second World War relative to population. That same day thousands marched and burnt the British embassy in Dublin to the ground.
The British Government set up the Widgery tribunal to supposedly look into what happened that day, but as expected it found no wrongdoings were committed by Parachute Regiment and concluded that they had fired in self-defence. The Queen of England pinned medals on those British Army Generals in charge on Bloody Sunday.
For years the people of Derry City campaigned to clear the names of those murdered on Bloody Sunday, in 1998 a public inquiry was set up called the Saville inquiry to examine what happened on Bloody Sunday. The report of the inquiry was published on June 15th 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."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.
The report stated that British soldiers had concocted lies in their attempt to hide their acts. Saville stated that the civilians had not been warned by the British soldiers that they intended to shoot. 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.
Reporting on the findings of the Saville Inquiry in the House of Commons, the then 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."
Although Saville exonerated those who were murdered that day and the British apologised, the blame was put on the individual soldiers disobeying orders. Let's be clear about this, Bloody Sunday was a deliberate premeditated act just like Ballymurphy and was ordered by the British Government to teach the Nationalist community of the six counties a lesson. Until the British Government admits this, then the campaign for justice keeps going.
Patrick Doherty (31)
Gerald Donaghy (17)
John 'Jackie' Duddy (17)
Hugh Gilmour (17)
Michael Kelly (17)
Michael McDaid (20)
Kevin McElhinney (17)
Bernard 'Barney' McGuigan (41)
Gerard McKinney (35)
William 'Willie' McKinney (27)
William Nash (19)
James Wray (22)
John Young (17)
John Johnston (59)