Bloody Sunday Support Service


The Bloody Sunday Support Service was originally launched in 1997. Its main focus was to pilot a service of support for the families of those killed and wounded on Bloody Sunday.

Support was provided through support groups and relaxation events. For many, this was the first time they were able to explore the impact Bloody Sunday had on their lives.

Volunteers noted symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, irrational behaviour, depression, anger and panic attacks, to name but a few, presenting in many of the family members and wounded.


On 29th January 1999, when Tony Blair announced the establishment of a new inquiry, Cúnamh facilitated a process of consultation with family members. This enabled us to assess and identify their needs for the duration of the Inquiry.

This consultation process led to the formal establishment of a range of services relevant to their specific needs, including Listening Ear, Counselling, Home Visit Service, Support Groups, Advocacy and Relaxation Therapies. A referral system was established with a view to networking and introducing a facility to liase with other relevant organisations. 

Members of the local community, who came forward to offer their help, delivered many of the services.

Cúnamh recognised the need for a Volunteer Support Service to cope with the needs of those attending the hearings at the Guildhall. After a rigorous selection process, a volunteer support service was introduced. All volunteers underwent training, specific to the needs of the work to be carried out.


Volunteers attended the inquiry in the Guildhall daily, offering listening ear support and counselling. They availed of daily supervision and frequent peer support with the volunteers meeting regularly to assess their own needs and how to best to respond to the unique circumstances of such an Inquiry. This was an ongoing process and resulted in consultations with family members through a series of residentials.

The first residential was organised by Cúnamh October 1999. This provided the families with an opportunity to relax, and to share and explore their thoughts and feelings about the Inquiry. It also allowed Cúnamh the opportunity to de-mystify the counselling process and allay any fears about seeking support.

Letterkenny Residential

This residential provided Cúnamh with essential feedback, which effectively shaped the future services.

A further two residentials were hosted by Cúnamh as part of the on-going support throughout the period of the Inquiry as well as on-going relaxation service.

When the Inquiry moved to London, Cúnamh gained support from the Inquiry to continue to ensure the availability of the counselling service. This meant that counsellors accompanied families to London. They provided a counselling service daily. An evening facility was also set up for those who wished to avail of it.

The service Cúnamh is providing is unique and unprecedented given all the attendant circumstances of the Saville Inquiry. It is for this reason that Cúnamh has commissioned an independent evaluation of this service. It is also consistent with the guidelines for Best Practice, which the organisation has always adhered to. When the Inquiry moves back to Derry, the consultation process between the families and Cúnamh will continue, in an effort to establish support provision, post-Inquiry.

Bairbre de BrunBairbre de Brun (MLA) officially launched the Cúnamh Support and Counselling Service for the Bloody Sunday Inquiry on Thursday 31st August 1999.

Invited speakers included Dr Raymond Mc Clean, Kay Duddy (sister of Jackie Duddy).