British 'discussed casualties' before Bloody Sunday

 

The British government discussed the possibility of "numerous civilians casualties" in a military operation in Derry just weeks before Bloody Sunday, it emerged today.

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry was told that a January 11th, 1972, vabinet meeting on Northern Ireland, chaired by the then Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, concluded: "As to Londonderry, a military operation to reimpose law and order would require seven battalions and would probably involve the commitment for a long time of four battalions to the city.

"It would be a major operation, necessarily involving numerous civilian casualties and thereby hardening even further the attitude of the Roman Catholic population".

Sir Arthur Hockaday, who was then an adviser on Northern Ireland in the Cabinet Office, said it would be overstating matters to suggest that bloodshed was "anticipated" on Bloody Sunday.

British paratroopers shot dead 13 unarmed men on a Derry civil rights march on January 30th, 1972.

PA