The Bloody Sunday families’ campaign for justice did not begin immediately. It would be twenty years before the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign came into existence. It operated for just six years – from 1992 until 1998, when the British government broke with all precedent and conceded to a new inquiry.
Campaign 1 - Launch of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign April 1992, l-r, Johnny Walker (Birmingham Six); Eamonn McCann and John Kelly (Derry Journal).jpg
Launch of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign April 1992, l-r, Johnny Walker (Birmingham Six); Eamonn McCann and John Kelly (Derry Journal).jpg
In the intervening years, Bloody Sunday was rarely mentioned other than by those closely affected. Once a year, on the anniversary, families, friends and fellow citizens would gather for annual commemorations in Derry, and, for many, the annual march became an important gesture of public remembrance.
The stigma of being associated with Bloody Sunday and thereby with ‘terrorism’ persisted for many years. Lord Widgery’s 1972 report did nothing to alleviate the suffering when it apportioned blame to the victims themselves. The immediate false narrative circulated by the British state thus became the ‘official’ version of events, endorsed by the Lord Chief Justice of the day. Widgery was to prove a disaster for the British state and its relationship with Northern Ireland.
From around 1989, discussion concentrated on the idea of an organisation to refocus attention on Bloody Sunday. Bereaved relatives and survivors were spurred on by the case of the Guildford Four, who were triumphantly released in October 1989 after a widespread campaign.