30 January 1972: Bloody Sunday – British soldiers shot 26 people taking part in a Civil Rights March in Derry City. 13 were killed that day and another man died of his wounds. Widespread condemnation followed throughout Ireland and abroad. The British Army claimed that its soldiers had fired at identifiable gunmen and bombers. The participants and survivors of the March and many independent witnesses refuted this.
The shootings took place as a major Civil Rights March was coming to an end. Sporadic rioting had broken out involving some hundreds of youths and members of the British Army. These developments were not unexpected and not seen as out of the ordinary at the time. Then for some reason never satisfactorily explained members of the 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment who were deployed in the City that day opened indiscriminate fire on rioters and innocent bystanders alike, shooting many people and arresting many more. At the time panic and fear were quickly replaced by anger and grief. These gruesome events were a watershed for many Irish People and undermined any conception that the British were neutral in the North of Ireland.