May 20, 1998

League Reissues "Bloody Sunday" Report On 1972 Events in Northern Ireland; Sam Dash To Head Monitoring Team

New York, NY---The International League for Human Rights, a non-governmental organization now in its 57th year, reissued today its 1972 report authored by Prof. Sam Dash on the January 30, 1972 event known as "Bloody Sunday," when British paratroopers fired on Catholic demonstrators in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, leaving 13 dead and 13 wounded. Last year, British Prime Minister Tony Blair decided to re-open the government's inquiry into the 1972 events, and Lord Saville was appointed to head the tribunal, which opened in Londonderry on April 3 and will begin hearing testimony in the fall of 1998.

The League's study, "Justice Denied: A Challenge to Lord Widgery's Report on Bloody Sunday" is based on the complete transcript of the testimony at the original hearings, as well as the 431 eyewitness accounts gathered by the British National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL) and analyzed by League experts, which were largely ignored by the official tribunal, headed by then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery. The League's team travelled to Londonderry in February 1972 at the urgent request of the NCCL of England, now known as Liberty. The League concluded that the paratroopers had either recklessly or deliberately shot live rounds at unarmed civilians, some of whom had their backs to the soldiers as they were crawling or running away. This finding sharply contrasted with Lord Widgery's exhoneration of the paratroopers.

In 1997, Prime Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland, whose government issued its own report, relied significantly on Prof. Dash's report for the League in urging a new look at the evidence.

The League's 152-page report contains a new introduction by Scott Horton, current president of the League, "Bloody Sunday" and the Promise of Justice in Northern Ireland. "Can a lasting foundation for peace in Northern Ireland be laid without addressing the issue of 'Bloody Sunday'? We think not. As in Argentina, Chile and South Africa, proponents of reconciliation and a fresh start in Northern Ireland conclude that to pour a foundation for a new society built on trust, the abuse that proceeded it must be exposed and denounced," notes Horton in the introduction.

"It is encouraging to know that no matter how long a seriously questioned judgment against British citizens on human rights issues has languished, responsible leadership in England has been willing to follow Britain's proud tradition of justice by calling for a new examination of the facts of Bloody Sunday, no matter how politically unpopular the decision may be," writes Horton.

Prof. Sam Dash, then as now Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and Director of the Institute of Criminal law and Procedure, has had a distinguished career in assisting inquiries into official actions. He served as Chief Counsel for the United States Senate Watergate Committee and currently is ethics counsel to independent counsel Kenneth Starr. The League will be monitoring the inquiry and issuing a follow-up report, and Prof. Dash will head the project.

Copies of Justice Denied: A Challenge to Lord Widgery's Report on "Bloody Sunday" are available free of charge to the press and human rights NGOs by calling (212)-684-1221 or e-mailing


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