#OTD in 1972 – In what is to become known as Bloody Sunday, the British Army kills 13 civil rights demonstrators in the Bogside district of Derry. A 14th marcher later dies of his injuries.

Thirteen people were shot and killed when British paratroopers opened fire on a crowd of civilians in Derry. Fourteen others were wounded, one later died. The marchers had been campaigning for equal rights such as one man, one vote.

Despite initial attempts by British authorities to justify the shootings including a rushed report by Lord Widgery exonerating the troops, the Saville Report which followed a long-running public inquiry found soldiers from the Parachute Regiment had opened fire first. Prime Minister David Cameron later apologised in Parliament, saying he was ‘deeply sorry’.

Relatives of the victims want the troops responsible for the deaths to face prosecution and a fresh police investigation was opened.

In 2013, a legal move that could possibly inflame the dormant passions of the Irish Troubles, possibly leading to twenty British soldiers arrests and interviews over their roles in Bloody Sunday, the defining atrocity of modern Irish history, in which British troops opened fire on unarmed protesters. It is believed the same paratroopers were responsible for the Ballymurphy Massacre in August 1971.

In November 2015, a 66-year-old man, a former member of the Parachute Regiment, was arrested in connection with an investigation into the ‘Bloody Sunday’ massacre. He was identified as ‘soldier J’, who was one of the soldiers who appeared before the Saville Inquiry. He was released on bail, pending further enquiries after being questioned on suspicion of murdering three demonstrators in 1972.

‘Soldier J told the inquiry he fired at two nail-bombers on Bloody Sunday. The former paratrooper said he missed with a shot fired at a man who was about to throw a nail bomb at a barricade on Rossville Street. He said he fired another shot at another man who was about to throw a smoking object from the corner of the Rossville Flats, but missed him as well. Soldier J admitted he ‘hammed up’ an account he gave to Daily Telegraph reporter Toby Harnden about things he did not actually see, in an attempt to secure anonymity for himself and his colleagues. The former lance corporal apologised to the tribunal for denying that he was the source of the article, but said he did so because he feared for the safety of his family if his name leaked out.’

One of the ex-paratroopers who gave evidence to the Saville inquiry has been living under a witness protection programme for 10 years amid fear that he is at risk of attack by some of his former comrades. The man, who was given the cipher Soldier 027, told the inquiry that soldiers in his company had been encouraged to ‘get some kills’ the night before Bloody Sunday, and that this had been seen as ‘tantamount to an order’. Two of his former comrades subsequently shot between eight and 10 demonstrators, he said. When Soldier 027 gave evidence at the inquiry it emerged that he had already entered a protection programme, organised by Scotland Yard and funded by the Northern Ireland Office.

Former Parachute Regiment Colonel Edward Loden, 73, who commanded the unit that fired all the fatal shots during the Bloody Sunday massacre was murdered by a gang of armed robbers in front of his family while on holiday visiting his son in Nairobi, Kenya in September 2013.

In December 2015, Ex-paratroopers won a legal bid against transfer to Northern Ireland.

This year’s march assembled at the Creggan shops to the Free Derry Corner at 2.30pm on Sunday 27 January. This year’s theme was ‘March For Justice’ and in a speech from Briege Voyle:

“In the aftermath of the Ballymurphy Massacre the British army’s press officer Mike Jackson told the media that the victims were gunmen and a gunwoman. The media asked no questions and reported exactly what he told them, he later did the same in Derry after Bloody Sunday. Jackson later received a knighthood for his actions in Ballymurphy and Derry and many paras received medals for acts of courage when their actions were anything but courageous.”

In her speech Briege called for Jackson and those soldiers who received medals or were honoured for their bravery for murdering unarmed innocent civilians in the streets of Ballymurphy and Derry to be stripped of these honours.

The Bloody Sunday March Committee went even further and called on Jackson to be jailed for his actions.

Briege had this message for Jackson and all the other para’s involved in the Ballymurphy Massacre:

“The Truth is coming – Justice is coming”.

For more events and information go to: http://www.bloodysundaymarch.org/

Those murdered:

Patrick (‘Paddy’) Doherty (31)
Gerald Donaghey (17)
John (‘Jackie’) Duddy (17)
Hugh Gilmour (17)
Michael Kelly (17)
Michael McDaid (20)
Kevin McElhinney (17)
Bernard (‘Barney’) McGuigan (41)
Gerald McKinney (35)
William (‘Willie’) McKinney (26)
William Nash (19)
James (‘Jim’) Wray (22)
John Young (17)
John Johnston (59) – shot twice and later died on 16 June 1972

Remembering the Victims of Bloody Sunday 1974

Featured Image | On 27 January 1974, a Memorial was unveiled to the fourteen people who died on Bloody Sunday, Derry

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