Timeline of the decades-long campaign by Bloody Sunday families for justice

·3-min read

Here are some of the key dates in the decades-long campaign for justice by the families of civilians killed by soldiers in Londonderry in January 1972.

January 30 1972

The Parachute Regiment opens fire on a crowd taking part in a civil rights march in Derry.

Some 13 were killed outright while a 14th man later died of his wounds.

April 1972

An inquiry led by Lord Chief Justice Lord Widgery supported the soldiers’ version of events that they were returning fire.

A silent crowd form a cordon 10 or more deep, lining both sides of the 250 yards of road leading from St Mary’s Church, Creggan Hill to the cemetery, to watch the funeral procession of the 13 who died on Bloody Sunday (Archive/PA)
A silent crowd form a cordon 10 or more deep, lining both sides of the 250 yards of road leading from St Mary’s Church, Creggan Hill to the cemetery, to watch the funeral procession of the 13 who died on Bloody Sunday (Archive/PA)

February 1992

First meeting of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign.

January 1994

Campaign writes to then prime minister John Major seeking full independent inquiry.

February 1994

Mr Major refuses because there has already been a public inquiry held by Lord Widgery.

January 1997

A 40,000 strong petition was delivered by the campaign to 10 Downing Street calling for a new inquiry.

January 29 1998

Then prime minister Tony Blair announces a new inquiry.

Bloody Sunday Statement – Tony Blair – House of Commons
Then British prime minister Tony Blair announces Government plans for a public inquiry into the Bloody Sunday massacres in the House of Commons (Video grab/PA)

November 2000-September 2002

Inquiry hears oral evidence.

August 2001

Soldiers announce they would seek a judicial review of the decision of inquiry that military witnesses must give their evidence in Derry.

December 2001

The Court of Appeal rules that the soldiers can give evidence in London.

September 2002-October 2003

Inquiry is held in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster.

Martin McGuinness Saville Inquiry
Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness (right) as he departs from the Guildhall in Londonderry after giving evidence to the Saville Inquiry, into Bloody Sunday (Paul Faith/PA)

October 2003-November 2004

Inquiry moves back to Derry.

June 2010

Lord Saville delivers his findings that there was no justification for shooting any of those killed or wounded. Prime Minister David Cameron issued a public apology saying the killings were “unjustified and unjustifiable”.

September-October 2018

The first compensation settlement in relation to Bloody Sunday victims is awarded.

Bloody Sunday prosecutions
Families of those who died march through the Bogside in Londonderry, in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

March 14 2019

The Public Prosecution Services announces one former soldier, known as F, will be prosecuted for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell in Londonderry in 1972.

Sixteen other former soldiers and two suspected ex-members of the Official IRA, all of whom were also investigated as part of a major police murder probe, will not face prosecution.

Bloody Sunday bike protest
Motorcyclists take part in the Rolling Thunder ride protest in London, to support of Soldier F who was facing prosecution over Bloody Sunday (John Stillwell/PA)

April 2019

Protests in support of Soldier F take place across the UK.

September 18 2019

The case against Soldier F is heard in court for the first time at a sitting of Derry Magistrates’ Court.

The veteran was not present in court for the short hearing.

January 17 2020

A judge orders that the first major hearing in the trial will take place in Belfast because of security fears.

The families of the victims argued the trial should sit in Derry.

April 22 2021

The families of five of the men killed announced they will legally challenge the decision of the PPS not to prosecute five veterans.

The families of Jackie Duddy, Michael Kelly, John Young, Michael McDaid and William McKinney were granted permission by the High Court to challenge decisions not to prosecute five other former members of the Parachute Regiment.

The judicial review has been listed for September.

July 2 2021

The PPS announces it is discontinuing the prosecution of Soldier F over fears the case could collapse in light of a recent court ruling that caused the collapse of another Troubles murder trial involving two military veterans.

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