The Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972

The Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972

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The Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972


In this essay I am going to try to explain what happened after ‘Bloody
Sunday’ and why there are such different interpretations of the event.
I am going to look at 4 different sources; 2 newspaper reports, an ITN
news report and also a video of a BBC documentary. I will also use my
own knowledge to interpret the sources. After the event an enquiry
known as the, ‘Widgery Report’ came to a verdict that the army was not
to blame for what happened where as Nationalists see the verdict as
wrong and believe this is a reason which has stopped independence in
Ulster. On the 29th January 1998 the Prime Minister Tony Blair ordered
another enquiry into ‘Bloody Sunday’ which is still on going to the
present day and is the ‘Saville Report’.

The troubles in Ulster had hit an all time high in 1969 and after that
marches and parades were usually an excuse for violence and rioting
between Catholics and Protestants. Therefore on August 9th 1971 all
marches in Northern Ireland were banned under the Special Powers Act
1922. At dawn on that same day British soldiers entered a number of
Catholic homes and took away suspected IRA men, which of hundreds were
put in internal camps. A march was then organised on January 30th 1972
by a Catholic group, although it was illegal they said so was
interning. The final decision was to allow the march to go ahead but
to contain it within the Bogside and Creggan estate to prevent rioting
in the city centre. What they didn’t know is that what was going to
happen that day would change Ulster and cause a lot of debate for
years to come.

13,000 people were taking part in the march and the IRA agreed to
remove weapons from the area; trouble wasn’t expected as people were
in good moods and there was no tension in the air. The army were to be
at the march and were to follow orders which were to arrest the

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rioters if it did turn to a riot. Unfortunately the march did turn to
violence after a gun shot was heard by the army and so they knew
weapons were being used then a riot broke out, 14 people were killed
and others injured. It was then to be known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ and was
an event which is now in the history books forever. One person stated,
“3 days later I will never forget the silence”.

Source A is a fairly lengthy newspaper article and is titled, ‘Paras
in Bloody Sunday evidence storm’. It was wrote on Friday 17th
September 1999 over 27 years after Bloody Sunday so evidence which is
written in the source could have been told recently as a result
peoples memories change and may have forgotten exactly what happened.
The source is wrote by Paul Eastham, Deputy Political Editor which
leads me to believe that he probably knows what he is talking about
and can write confidently about politics. I think the audience of the
article are conservative supporters and unionists. The article is in
the Daily Mail which is traditionally a right wing paper therefore
could be biased and in favour of the army also the paper leans more to
conservatives and could be against the ‘Saville Report’ which labour
Prime Minister Tony Blair ordered. The reliability of the source is
fairly reliable but because of the biased paper it’s maybe in favour
of the army and Unionists. The source explains that the ‘Saville
Report’ is saying that there is no credible evidence that any of the
14 people killed by the army in Londonderry in January 1972 had been
handling firearms. Also in the article it says how the former
Paratroopers and their supporters were incensed at the release of the
report where as Nationalists and their families triumphed at the news,
the paratroopers believed it was part of a piecemeal. The source does
everything to claim that the Saville Report is not going to reach a
fair decision and puts in quotes from people who are totally against
the new evidence. Another former paratrooper described the new
evidence as “rubbish” and goes on to say “nobody mentions the nail
bombs and acid bombs they threw at us”. In the article Tony Blair is
accused of setting up the inquiry to appease Sinn Fein during talks on
the Northern Ireland Peace process. I think this source is definitely
interpreted as in favour of the army and that the Saville Report is a
fix which is being used by Tony Blair to get peace in Ulster.

Source B is titled, “Bloody Sunday Revelation” and was published in
the Guardian on Friday 17th September 1999 over 27 years after the
event. Again evidence in the source may have been revised because of
the length of time after Bloody Sunday and things may have been
forgotten. The author is John Mullin, Ireland correspondent therefore
maybe biased as he could be on the side of the people of Ulster. I
think the source is aimed at the Nationalists and people in favour of
the Saville report as it doesn’t object or disagree with the new
evidence. The source explains that unlike the Widgery report new
evidence has come forward to support that of the 14 people killed they
had not been handling weapons which is why the British paratrooper’s
claim they had to shoot to protect themselves, it is something
civilian witnesses have always said. The article also mentions that
the Widgery Report states that Barnley McGuigan was shot through the
back of the head by a ‘dum-dum’ bullet. This is a bullet which
explodes on impact and once hit with there is little chance of
survival, these are illegal under the Geneva Convention and therefore
must have been from the IRA. But new evidence in the Saville report
from John Martin, a forensic scientist, who carried out the original
tests now says developments show the same findings could now be
explained by contamination and there could no longer be a ‘strong
suspicion’ that any of the victims held or were near weapons. Overall
I think this source is very much in favour of the Saville Report, the
sub-heading, “This backs up what we have been saying all these years:
the victims were innocent”, in my opinion proves this. The army don’t
have a say in this article and nothing is said to say that the army
weren’t in the wrong for example attacks from the other side.

Source C is the shortest of all and perhaps the most unreliable. The
source is titled, ‘Bloody Sunday witness appears’ and is from an ITN
news report broadcasted on the 28 th November 2000. I think the motive
of this source was to show people what witnesses are saying in the
Saville Report and maybe against the army. The report is about a
witness named Daniel Porter has come forward in the Saville report and
claims he was told a plan by off-duty troops in a pub in England.
Straight away the reliability of the report is tested because the man
was in a pub which are usually noisy bustling places were you cant
often hear yourself think let alone overhear a conversation. Daniel
Porter says that the soldiers were talking of coming to Derry to
‘clear the bog’ by which he understood they would be clearing away the
barricades. Also in the source it says the death toll was 13 but it
was 14 so again I think this source isn’t reliable. This source is
probably in favour of the Unionists but in my opinion is not a good
interpretation because of the reliability.

Finally I looked at a BBC documentary news clip which was filmed at
the time and was showed to the public which is probably why this is
such a big event in history because it was seen by people everywhere
and they then realised the troubles in Northern Ireland. The video
said that 14 people were killed and 13 others injured. The video was a
documentary so as well as things which was filmed at the time there
was people’s views and opinions after the event. I think the video may
have been edited to show the worst violence or on the other hand the
cameraman will not have been able to get in the thick of the riot so
it could have been mild violence. A witness on the video admitted
Catholics were throwing stones but no guns were used. Also a local
priest in the area blamed the soldiers for what happened that day.
From the army’s point of view they argued they were taking orders as
it’s their job and they were not going to stand and take attacks they
had to defend themselves. I think this source is reliable as its got
evidence and footage from the day and from the people involved. Also
the source is not biased towards either side as it has arguments for
both sides of the coin. The source’s motive is trying to show opinions
and evidence to Bloody Sunday and in my opinion had a good
interpretation as to what happened.

There are similarities in the sources which I have noticed. Firstly
source A and B are both from newspapers and dated Friday 17th
September. Also they about the same thing which is the new evidence
that maybe the victims were not armed. Secondly source A, B and the
video all stated that 14 people were killed which is the true amount.

As well as similarities there are many differences in the sources
which test reliability. Firstly, source C says that 13 people were
killed on Bloody Sunday but the other three sources say 14. Secondly I
think source A is backing up the army where as sources B and C think
that the army was to blame for Bloody Sunday.

When I look at evidence from Bloody Sunday I don’t think there is any
side which can take the blame and will be something which will never
be resolved. After Bloody Sunday when the Widgery Report came to the
conclusion the army were not to blame there was up roar in Ulster,
they believed it spoilt there chances of becoming independent which is
something the Nationalists have always wanted. On the 12th October
1984 the Brighton bombing took place which was a plot to kill Margaret
Thatcher, the Prime Minister at the time who was part of the
conservative party which are mainly Unionists. A few years later
Margaret has retired and the new Prime Minister was John Major whom on
the 15th September 1993 met the Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds.
They signed what was known as the Downing Street declaration which
started the peace talks. Ian Paisley a strong Unionists wasn’t happy
about what was happening and quoted, “Sold out Ulster to buy off
fiendish republican scum”. Again after a few years labour came to
power and Tony Blair was Prime Minister in May 1997. After peace talks
on the 10th April 1998 the ‘Good Friday Agreement’ was signed. Then
finally after years of waiting, Nationalists hear the news that on the
29 th January 1998 Tony Blair orders another inquiry into Bloody
Sunday. I think these events will affect the sources I have looked at
because after the Brighton bombing feelings towards Nationalists may
have been hatred because of the plot which was believed to be the IRA.
Also things which may have happened in Northern Ireland may have been
asked by the government to keep quiet as peace talks were been
discussed therefore the sources may be limited. Overall I think
Northern Ireland will never be peaceful there will always be one
debate or another and Bloody Sunday is one which wont be forgotten.
The outcome of the Saville Report may help to determine whether
Northern Ireland will become independent.



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