Today marks 50th anniversary of beginning of Troubles in Northern Ireland
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Today marks 50th anniversary of beginning of Troubles in Northern Ireland

TODAY marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

On this day in 1968, a civil rights march on Derry’s Duke Street was attacked by police.

Little did anyone know at the time, that event would spark 30 years of relentless and devastating violence in Northern Ireland.

The protesters on that faithful day were calling for greater equality for the Catholic/nationalist minority in the north.

The Apprentice Boys of Derry, a Protestant fraternal society, took part in the march too.

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After the march was announced publicly, Northern Ireland’s Minister of Home Affairs William Craig issued a banning order on all marches in and around Duke street.

On the day of the march, a few hundred protesters began the walk from the predominantly Protestant Waterside area of the city, to the Diamond in the centre.

When they reached Duke Street, they were confronted by rows of police from the Royal Ulster Constabulary, who used batons and water cannon on the marchers.

Dramatic images of the violence that broke out were captured on camera and broadcast around the world.

From then until the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, some 3,600 people died in conflict that had all the appearances of civil war, with roadblocks and bomb blasts, sniper fire and the suspension of civil rights.

Even today, 20 years on from that settlement, echoes of that period can be seen on large murals on the gable ends of rowhouses in the city.

Just last month, a report revealed that one third of people who survived violent incidents during the Troubles have attempted to take their own lives since.

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A poll of 2,000 Troubles victims from Northern Ireland, the Republic and Britain by the London-based Docklands Victims Association (DVA) found 32% of respondents had attempted to commit suicide.

Many still take medication to battle suicidal thoughts linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and various other mental health issues, DVA president Jonathan Ganesh said.

Fifty years on from the event that sparked the Troubles, and with the conditions of Brexit and the border still up in the air, no one can predict what will happen next in Northern Ireland.