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Bloody Sunday: The long road to the Saville Report

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Bloody Sunday: The long road to the Saville Report


In 1972, 470 people died in the violent sectarian unrest which dominated Northern Ireland, including 13 people who died on Bloody Sunday when the army opened fire on unarmed civil rights marchers. Some 14 others were injured that day, one of whom later died.

Jackie Duddy, 17, was the first to die. He was shot in the shoulder as he ran across a car park. As he was carried away, a Catholic priest, Father Daly, waved his handkerchief at troops to gain a safe passage.

Jackie’s sister Kay still has that same handkerchief and says it gives her courage.

“Looking at him, he was doing nothing, he was not doing anything,” she said.

“And this is why it is so frustrating that Jackie was buried in the name, he was accused of being a petrol bomber at the time he was shot, and Jackie was totally 100% innocent of anything. He was not doing anything. There was no justification whatsoever for them firing on Jackie.”

Days later, 11 of the victims were buried in Londonderry and despite the cold and rain thousands of people turned out to pay their respects. The then Prime Minister Edward Heath opened an inquiry into the killings, led by Lord Widgery.

The results were published a few months later, exonerating British soldiers and saying they had come under fire from the demonstrators.

The report was condemned by the families as a whitewash and Bloody Sunday remained a sticking point in the peace process until Tony Blair opened a second inquiry, led by Lord Saville, in 1998.

The inquiry cost more than 200 million euros, and sifted 2,500 witness statements, 922 oral statements, 160 volumes of evidence and 231 audio and video tapes.

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service has said that its director would now be considering “the nature and extent” of any police investigations into the events of Bloody Sunday.

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