On this day today,,a date that wont be forgotten in Northen Ireland, 14 innocent Irish Catholics were killed by British soldiers, many more were injured as they were marching for their basic freedoms and civil rights, under almost siege like conditions under British rule in the city and across Northern Ireland..
The civil rights protestors were shot in the Bogside by British soldiers from 1 Para Regiment. All of the dead were unarmed, five were shot in the back. Most were shot fleeing the soldiers and several were killed trying to assist the wounded. One man was shot and killed while assisting a victim and waving a white handkerchief another killed with his arms raised in surrender position.
The protestrs were oppossing the policy of internment which allowed the authorities to imprison suspected members of the IRA without trial. On 9 August, 11, British soldiers detained 342 people, many of whom were tortured and had no connection to the IRA . This disastrous policy led to an immediate increase in violnce, with 17 people killed within the next 48 hours.On 22 January 1972, soldirs attaxked an anti-internment protest in Derry, firing rubber bullets and beating rotestors severely.
However the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was determined not to be intimidated. so on this day arund 10,000 people marched twards the city centre, but their route was blocked by army barrcades. Here and there, some stones and bottles were thrown at the troops but collectively the marchers posed little threat to the well armed British soldieers, who exceptionally on this day were members of an elite parachute regiment, thus trained for combat, not policing crowds. At some point for reasons that as never been established, British soldiers began firing into the crowd of civilians.
Soon many were falling to the ground. All of the dead were unarmed, five were shot in the back. Most were shot fleeing the soldiers and several were killed trying to assist the wounded. One man was shot and killed while assisting a victim and waving a white handkerchief another killed with his arms raised in surrender position. Seven of them were teenagers.
Like internment, Bloody Sunday provided the IRA with a huge recruitement boost and 1972 marked the single most violent year of the troubles. I can understand why any working class Catholic who having watched their friends get killed and detained, their houses burnt down and their communities left attacked by pogroms, could choose the path of resistance, in defence of their people.
List of those killed
Patrick ('Paddy') Doherty (31)
Gerald Donaghey (17)
John ('Jackie' ) Duddy (17)
Hugh Gilmore (17)
Michael Kelly (17)
Michael McDaid (20)
Kevin McElhinnet (17)
Bernard ('Barney') McGuigan (41)
Gerald McKinney (35)
William ('Willie') McKinney (26)
William Nash (19)
James ('Jim') Wray (22)
John Johnston (59)
It was later revealed that some days prior to this massacre, the British soldiers had been briefed 'to shoot to kill' at the march. The Saville report and enqury which had taken 12 years confirmed the innocence of the victims, exonerating every one of them, and even our own Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to announce that the British armies actions on this day were' Unjustified and Unjustifiable,' It vindicated not only those who died, and the many injured, but also the familes and supporters who had campaigned for so long to have their innocence recognised.Like the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa a shameful day in history Let us hope that the future sees no more bloody Sundays, .