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Abstract of Important Events - 'Bloody Sunday', 30 January 1972

[Key_Events] Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]

Text and Research: Martin Melaugh
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This is one of a number of files which provide a very brief abstract of important events during the Northern Ireland conflict. Some of the events are dealt with in greater detail elsewhere (check, for example, Key Events and the corresponding entry in the chronology.

The events of 'Bloody Sunday' - 30 January 1972

The introduction of internment sparked off a series of street protests against the measure. One such protest took place in Derry on Sunday 30 January 1972. The march was organised by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA). The organisers of the march had intended to walk from the Creggan area of Derry through the Bogside to the centre of the city. The Parachute Regiment of the British Army was given responsibility for policing the march and the route from the Bogside to the city centre was blocked by the troops. As the main body of marchers approached the line of troops they turned right towards 'Free Derry Corner' to hold a rally. A group of mainly young people broke away from the march and began to throw stones at the troops.

The exact circumstances of what happened next are in dispute. The British Army later claimed that they came under fire from people in the crowd. The local residents have always maintained that there were no shots fired at the troops, rather it was they who opened fire without warning. What was established was that members of the Parachute Regiment fired 108 shots, killed 13 men (one man died in June 1972 from injuries bringing the figure to 14), and injured a further 13 people. A British inquiry, headed by Lord Widgery, concluded that some of the shooting "had bordered on the reckless" but that the troops were fired upon first. The city's coroner, Hubert O'Neill, took a different view. He noted that many of the victims were shot in the back and described the events as "unadulterated murder". No independent public inquiry into the events of what became know as 'Bloody Sunday' has ever been held.

One of the outcomes of 'Bloody Sunday' was a huge increase in support for the Irish Republican Army (IRA). In addition the events of that day were to signal the end of Unionist rule at Stormont, something which was to have a profound affect on the Protestant population of Northern Ireland.

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

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