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Northern Ireland marks 50 years since the Bloody Sunday killings

Families of the victims and supporters walk past a mural featuring the 14 victims holding crosses as they mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday on Sunday in Londonderry, also known as Derry, Northern Ireland.
Charles McQuillan
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Getty Images
Families of the victims and supporters walk past a mural featuring the 14 victims holding crosses as they mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday on Sunday in Londonderry, also known as Derry, Northern Ireland.

Locals in the city called either Londonderry or Derry, Northern Ireland, are marking 50 years since Bloody Sunday, in which British soldiers fired upon a crowd of protesters in what's now considered one of the most pivotal events of The Troubles.

On Sunday, family members of those killed on Jan. 30, 1972, held roses as they participated in a walk of remembrance, according to the Derry Journal. Video showed hundreds of people walking through the streets, some holding images of those shot.

St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry also rang its bells 14 times — once for each victim — at the time the shooting began, the newspaper reported. Thirteen people were killed that day and one man later died of his injuries. Fifteen others were injured.

A republican bandsman beats his drum as he takes part in Bloody Sunday March to Free Derry Corner.
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A republican bandsman beats his drum as he takes part in Bloody Sunday March to Free Derry Corner.

"Today we remember all those who died or were injured as a result of the atrocity on #BloodySunday50, one of the darkest days for this island," Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said in a tweet. "We also pay tribute to the families of the victims, whose dignity and persistence in the search for truth and justice has never wavered."

The violence took place during a march organized by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. A public investigation later concluded that British soldiers fired on the unarmed protesters even though none of those killed posed a threat to the soldiers.

People take part in a Bloody Sunday March to the Guildhall, as they mark the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday.
Charles McQuillan / Getty Images
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People take part in a Bloody Sunday March to the Guildhall, as they mark the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

The killings occurred during a period of increased tension between the Catholic nationalists who wanted Northern Ireland to become a part of a unified Ireland and the Protestant unionists loyal to the United Kingdom.

Bloody Sunday exacerbated hostilities and fueled support for the Irish Republican Army. Some 3,700 people died over the course of the four-decade conflict.

Prosecutors announced they were pursuing criminal charges against two British soldiers who took part in the Bloody Sunday shootings — known anonymously as Soldier F and Soldier B -- but the cases were dropped last year.

"Walking shoulder to shoulder with the Bloody Sunday families. These families are courage and strength personified, they are an inspiration for those struggling for truth and justice in Ireland and across the world," Michelle O'Neill, deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, said in a statement.

"We will continue to support their campaign for truth and justice," she added.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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