Main findings of Bloody Sunday inquiry


Below are some of the main findings from Lord Saville's report into the Bloody Sunday shootings.

British army

- Firing by British soldiers of 1 Para caused the deaths of 13 people and injury to a similar number, none of whom posed a threat.

- This also applied to the 14th victim, who died later from injuries.

- “Despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers.”

- The accounts of soldiers to the inquiry were rejected, with a number said to have “knowingly put forward false accounts”.

- Five soldiers fired in the belief that no-one in the area they were firing at posed a threat.

- Two soldiers fired in the belief that they might have identified gunmen, but without being certain.

- Failure by the soldiers to give a warning was not a technicality.

British army commanders

- Soldiers of Support Company went into Bogside due to an order by Colonel Wilford, which should not have been given and was contrary to orders he received from Brigadier MacLellan.

- Commander of land forces in Northern Ireland, Major General Robert Ford, would have been aware that the Parachute Regiment had a reputation for using excessive force. But he would not have believed there was a risk of paratroopers firing unjustifiably.


- No blame was placed on the organisers of the march, the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.

Provisional and Official IRA

- Members of official IRA fired shots although paratroopers shot first on Bloody Sunday

- Bloody Sunday strengthened the Provisional IRA, increased nationalist resentment and hostility towards the British army and exacerbated the violent conflict.

- “We have no doubt that there was significant Official IRA activity in the five sectors during Bloody Sunday, though in our view, this did not provide an explanation for why soldiers targeted and hit people who were not posing a threat of causing death or serious injury”.

- There was no evidence that any Provisional IRA member used or intended to use the march to engage the security forces with guns or bombs.

- “We consider it likely that Martin McGuinness was armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun on Bloody Sunday and we cannot eliminate the possibility that he fired this weapon after the soldiers had come into the Bogside”.

- Report concludes: “He did not engage in any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire”.

- “With the exception of the shot fired by the Official IRA at a soldier near the Presbyterian church there is no evidence that suggests to us that other members of the Official IRA used the march for the purpose of engaging the security forces with guns or bombs”.


- Neither British nor Northern Ireland governments planned or foresaw the use of unnecessary lethal force by soldiers.


- Saville said that none of the victims were armed "with the probable exception of Gerald Donaghy".

- A police photograph showed nailbombs on Mr Donaghey's body. His family said they were planted. Saville disagrees.

- "We are sure that Gerald Donaghey was not preparing or attempting to throw a nail bomb when he was shot; and we are equally sure that he was not shot because of his possession of the nail bombs. He was shot while trying to escape from the soldiers."