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‘The shooting barely took thirty minutes but the impact was seismic.’. Bloody Sunday : the background How was Bloody Sunday possible? Was it a tragedy waiting to happen?. Ireland in Schools Durham Pilot Scheme
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‘The shooting barely took thirty minutes but the impact was seismic.’
Bloody Sunday : the background
How was Bloody Sunday possible?
Was it a tragedy waiting to happen?
Ireland in Schools Durham Pilot Scheme
Sound clip: From ‘Ordinary Sunday’ by Athenrye
Where: Londonderry/Derry, Northern Ireland
Occasion: Civil rights demonstration against internment
What happened: 13 civilians were shot dead by British paratroopers*
* A fourteen shooting victim died later
Consequences: Fall of Stormont
Revival of the IRA
Catholic insecurity in Belfast in 1969
Inadequate political response
Reliance on security response
In the background
Protestants British government Irish Republic
The bulk of the Catholic population accepted this claim, and justification of the IRA.
Although many of them thoroughly disliked the bombing and murdering by the IRA, they were not prepared to co-operate with the forces of the Crown to destroy the IRA, just in case another Bombay Street situation might arise.
The commanding officer of a British battalion that served in the Falls in 1972-73.
Click below to see a video of Catholics recalling the impact of the events of 1969 on attitudes towards the IRA.
Click below for a video of Protestants recalling their response to the events of 1969-70. http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=-518458458107211855
August 1971 - 1975
1. Reliance on British army
2. Searches for arms
July 1970 onwards
‘Without inside information as to the exact whereabouts of terrorist weapons and documents, the security forces have little option but top search on the vaguest suspicions – nothing is more certain to alienate the population.
34 hour curfew in Catholic Falls to allow searches
17,262 house searches
1,183 houses searched; arms found in 47
I felt that I was invading the man's home. I felt guilty and ashamed. The place was saturated with CS [tear] gas. Children were coughing. I’m talking now about toddlers, kids of three, four, five.
. . . I think the major effect of the Falls curfew was that it gave the community in the Lower Falls the opportunity to see the IRA as their saviours and they saw the British Army as the enemy, a foreign occupying force…
I didn't see myself as a foreign invader and I don't think they did either up until the curfew.
A private in the army describing the effect of the Falls curfew of July 1970.
Click below for video of 1971 searches.
Click below for video of 1970 searches.
Click to start video of Prime Minister Brian Faulkner announcing the introduction of internment.
One elderly man was arrested by British Soldiers and was proud of it.
But he told them he had not been active in the IRA since the War of Independence.
4 am, 9 August 1971
First six months
Internees were kept fully hooded except when interrogated or in rooms by themselves.
When internees were held together, they were subjected to a continuous hissing noise.
It was general policy to deprive men of sleep during early days of operation.
‘The final outrage in a system of law & order which had been pressing heavily on it for years’
Resurrected civil protest
Click here for a report of aftermath of internment.
Click here for a republican video on internment.
Catholic areas bore the brunt of emergency measures
Feeling whole ordinary process of law continued to be weighted against them
One Catholic priest said,
‘Our people are afraid of the courts; they believe the judicial system as it operates in the blatantly sectarian condition of life here is loaded against them.’
Click below to start video of Protestant rally.
‘Bloody Sunday’ cannot be seen in isolation. It was a tragedy waiting to happen. For many months there had been endless rioting in the city.
Every day, at tea time, there would be a confrontation at the corner of William Street and Rossville Street between soldiers guarding the entrance to the city centre and the rioters operating out of ‘Free Derry’.
Day after day soldiers would stand there being pelted by rioters and the stone throwers would get in plenty of practice. The junction was known, with good reason, as ‘aggro corner’.
Peter Taylor, Provos, p. 114
6 Feb. 1971: First British soldier killed
Soldiers killed before & after internment
In my view, this was a war. If people are shooting at you, they're shooting not to wound you but to kill you. Therefore we had to behave accordingly.
We blacked our faces, we took our berets off, or at least our badges from them, and put camouflage nets over our heads. We always wore our flak jackets and when we moved on the streets, we moved as if we were moving against a well-armed, well-trained army.
Now that might have been a compliment to the IRA but it wasn't really. It was a compliment to my soldiers. I wanted my soldiers to stay alive and I actually said to them, 'you will not get killed’. That was really my coda throughout my period of command.
Click below for video on Bloody Sunday confrontation from starter.
Click below for video on immediate aftermath of Bloody Sunday.