Disagreement on how to relate to a dramatically changed situation had led to the Republican Movement splitting in December 1969 into the ‘Officials’ (OIRA) and ‘Provisionals’ (PIRA).  Both groups were making ready for an armed campaign.

By April 1970, when republicans commemorated the Easter Rising, clashes between young people and the British Army had become a daily occurrence.

By the end of July 1971, nine people had died in Free Derry, including the first British soldier killed in the city, and the first unarmed civilians shot by the British Army.

Support for republicanism among northern Catholics generally was greater than it had been for decades. Recruits were relatively easily found among the ranks of teenage rioters.  

  • Eamon Melaugh


    In June 1970, three IRA members, members, Thomas McCool (40), Joseph Coyle (40) and Thomas Carlin (55), together with two of McCool’s daughters, Bernadette (9) and Carol (4), were killed in a premature explosion in Creggan.

  • Cusack/Beattie Report, 1971


    1971 saw a steady escalation in violence across the north. The first British soldier to die in Derry, William Joliffe, perished in a petrol bombing at Westland Street on 1 March.