January 30, 1972
2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the Bogside Massacre, perhaps better known as “Bloody Sunday.” The massacre occurred in the Bogside area, which is the predominantly Roman Catholic area of Derry.
On that day, British soldiers, members of the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment, engaged in military action against 15,000 citizens assembled to take part in a civil rights march. The march itself was organized by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. Those citizens were marching/protesting against the internment of citizens without the right to a trial.
British soldiers shot 26 unarmed citizens. 14 died. 13 were killed outright, & the death of another man four months later was attributed to the injuries he incurred on that fateful Sunday.
Many of the victims were shot running AWAY from the British soldiers. Others were shot while trying to provide aid to the already wounded. Other protesters were injured by rubber bullets, batons and shrapnel. Two other citizens were run over by British Army vehicles.
All those shot were Roman Catholic. All those shot were UNARMED. None posed a serious threat.
6 of those who died were aged 17. One was 19. Another was 20. Another? 22. Another was 26, another 31, another 35, another 41, & the oldest-who was 59.
There is an iconic photo of Father Edward Daly, waving a blood stained white handkerchief while trying to escort Jackie Duddy to safety. Jackie was a lad of only 17. Shot while running away from the soldiers. Jackie Duddy was the first fatality of that horrific day.
It should be noted that the same group of soldiers, members of the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment, were involved in the Ballymurphy Massacre a few months prior to Bloody Sunday. It has been noted that Bloody Sunday was the worst mass shooting in the history of the “Irish Troubles.”
Paul McCartney, himself of Irish lineage, wrote the first response to the event two days after it took place. “Give Ireland Back To The Irish,” This song clearly spelled out McCartney’s views on the massacre. The song was banned by the BBC but received widespread play here in America.
On this 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday/The Bogside Massacre, it is only fitting that we all remember, with heads bowed, the fateful events of January 30, 1972.
Gary Duncan, Historian
St. Patrick Parade Association of Lackawanna County