Bloody Sunday 50th Anniversary: What happened in Derry in 1972 and how is Bloody Sunday commemorated?

13 people were shot dead by the British Army on Bloody Sunday during an anti-internment march in Derry, fifty years ago on January 30, 1972. A 14th person died later from injuries sustained that day.
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On Sunday, January 30, 1972, thirteen people were killed and 15 people were wounded after members of the British Army's Parachute Regiment opened fire on unarmed civilians in the Bogside area of Derry. A 14th victim died later from injuries he sustained.

One of the darkest days of the Troubles, victims' families waited decades for an apology.

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday killings, with commemorations planned across the city of Derry and it will also be marked and the victims remembered by others across the world.

Victims of Bloody Sunday are remembered in a mural on the Bogside, Derry.Victims of Bloody Sunday are remembered in a mural on the Bogside, Derry.
Victims of Bloody Sunday are remembered in a mural on the Bogside, Derry.

What happened on Bloody Sunday?

Bloody Sunday took place in Derry's Bogside in 1972.

The British army shot 26 unarmed civilians who had been taking part in a civil rights march in the city.

Thirteen victims were killed outright by the shooting, fifteen people were left wounded and two civilians were knocked down by army vehicles whilst fleeing. One man died later from his injuries.

Many of those who were shot at were running with their backs to the soldiers whilst others were helping the wounded.

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The Italian photographer, Fulvio Grimaldi, who took many of the iconic images of Bloody Sunday commented to the BBC in 2016,

"I had been to war situations before, but such a direct view of somebody being killed in cold blood while he was fleeing I had never had the experience before."

Who were the victims?

Those who lost their lives were Patrick Doherty (32), Gerald Donaghey (17), Jackie Duddy (17), Hugh Gilmour (17), Michael Kelly (17, Michael McDaid (20), Kevin McElhinney (17), Barney McGuigan (41), Gerald McKinney (35), William McKinney (26), William Nash (19), Jim Wray (22), John Young (17) and John Johnston (59).

What inquiries were held for Bloody Sunday?

The Widgery Tribunal took place in April 1972, but the report was biassed and was widely-discredited.

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In 1998, former Prime Minister Tony Blair announced a new inquiry would be held into the atrocity.

The Saville Inquiry findings were published in June 2010 and confirmed what the people of Derry knew, that the British Army had fired the first shot, killing unarmed civilians.

British Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged this and issued an apology on behalf of the British Government, which was watched by crowds in Derry's Guildhall Square.

What do people do to commemorate Bloody Sunday?

This year will mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, with commemoration events happening throughout Derry.

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Events organised by the Bloody Sunday Trust begin on Thursday, January 20 and include a commemorative march, quilt making, film screenings and discussions on human rights today.

On Sunday, January 30, there will be a Families’ Remembrance Walk, a march a memorial service and ‘Beyond the Silence’ which will take place at the Guildhall at 4pm, the time the shooting began in 1972, while a new production based on Bloody Sunday ‘The White Handkerchief’ will premiere in the Guildhall.

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