Victim’s son says Bloody Sunday left a ‘deep scar’ on generations

·3 min read

The son of a man shot dead on Bloody Sunday has told how the events of 50 years ago left a “deep scar” on generations growing up in the area.

Patrick Doherty, a married father of six and member of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, was 32 when he died in Londonderry on January 30 1972.

His son Tony is now the chairman of the Bloody Sunday Trust in the city.

He said his father was a great believer in equality and civil rights.

He said: “My father was very much an ordinary man, an ordinary working class Catholic.

“He spent many years abroad in England working because he couldn’t get a job here.

“He was a father of six children.

“When he was killed the youngest was six months and the oldest was 12.

“He left my mother with six children to rear on her own.

“He left to go to the march on that day with my mother Eileen and she came back on her own.

“She came back a widow.

“I was nine years of age at the time.

“I have no memory of my mother and father going to the march, but I have a memory of mother coming back afterwards and telling us that my father had been shot dead over in the Bogside which wasn’t that far from our home.”

Mr Doherty said he grew up with the legacy of Bloody Sunday.

He later joined the IRA and spent time in Crumlin Road prison in the 1980s.

He said: “I think a lot of things wouldn’t have happened had Bloody Sunday not taken place.

“All the lies and the injustice which followed, that left a very deep scar on the generations which were growing up at the time, including myself growing up in Derry in the 1970s.

“When I was released in the mid-80s from prison I then became involved with the families and we eventually established the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign in 1992.

“We went on to force the British Government when they eventually agreed to initiate the second (Saville) inquiry in 1998.”

View from Derry City Walls looking over the neighbourhood area of the Bogside where Bloody Sunday took place in 1972 (Liam McBurney/PA)
View from Derry City Walls looking over the neighbourhood area of the Bogside where Bloody Sunday took place in 1972 (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr Doherty said the death of his father had a deep and lasting impact on his mother and all of the family.

“I think in some respects none of us have recovered, it is always there.

“It left my mother as a widow with six children.

“She eventually did remarry in 1990 and was happy for a long time afterwards, but I think she always had difficulty with the memories because she left the house with my father and came back without him.

“I think there is a great indignity in your hurt and loss not being acknowledged and I think my mother felt that, as did the other widows and the mothers and fathers of the other men and boys who were killed that day as well.

“There is a great indignity when people don’t properly acknowledge your loss and I think that went on for far too long in this part of the world.”

Tony Doherty, son of Patrick Doherty killed on Bloody Sunday in Derry’s Bogside in 1972 (Liam McBurney/PA)
Tony Doherty, son of Patrick Doherty killed on Bloody Sunday in Derry’s Bogside in 1972 (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr Doherty added: “The issue of Bloody Sunday is always in our past but it is always going to be in our future as well.

“For me, it depends on what good you can do with it in terms of continuing to remember the dead of Bloody Sunday and the terrible sacrifice that they were forced to make at that time.

“There is still a lot wrong with society, hundreds of families have never found justice, have never found the truth.

“The Bloody Sunday families have been given access to the vast bulk of the truth during the course of the inquiry but many other people haven’t even got that far.”

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