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 marks 50 years since the massacre and as part of its extensive programme of events the Bloody Sunday March Committee (BSMC) is holding its annual march for justice.
For more events and information go to: http://www.bloodysundaymarch.org/
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
Featured Image | On 27 January 1974, a Memorial was unveiled to the fourteen people who died on Bloody Sunday, Derry