50 years on, the wounds of Bloody Sunday are still intact

The events themselves took only a few minutes to unfold in a barrage of shots from one side that claimed more than a dozen lives, each of them a new martyr in the bleak annals of loss. of Northern Ireland. But the attempt to unravel what happened in those brief moments – to parse the premises and results, to trace the above command lines The horrible day known as Bloody Sunday – gobble up years of costly investigations.

And when the question was asked, some drew the conclusion that the murders of British soldiers on January 30, 1972, earned a place along with Sharpeville shooting in South Africa in 1960 and The 1989 Tiananmen Square Murders in Beijing are examples of deadly violence in the name of a state, against those who seek to oppose it.

The defeats belonged to the corps, carried out by a unit of the British army known for its bravery and fortitude in the conflicts as far as Arnhem in the Netherlands during World War II and the Falklands in 1982. Many souls search and much confusion revolves around the central question of whether, as some soldiers initially asserted, they opened fire in response to an armed and potentially deadly attack. of the Irish Republican Army underground outlaws.

That’s not what a final official investigation is determined in June 2010. None of those who fell – 13 people died that day, and one died of their injuries later – posed “threat of causing death or serious injury, or actually doing any harm.” anything else can justify any form” -ammo upgrade from automatic rifle.

The consequences were enormous, reverberating even further than the hardline Northern Irish city of Derry, known to British officials and many members of its Protestant minority, Londonderry, where bloodshed broke out. . Four years earlier, in 1968, in the same middle streets of the city’s Bogside district – where anti-British sentiment played a key role – a civil rights march had broken into violent confrontation. between the predominantly Roman Catholic protesters and the predominantly Protestant police force, the Royal Ulster Constant. Clashes signal the beginning of what is known as troublesThree decades of tangled sectarian conflict drew British troops into the territory.

From then until Good Friday Peace Agreement 1998more than 3,500 people have died, caught up in the mutually exclusive vision of people, mainly Catholics, who were seeking a united Ireland and mostly Protestants who were committed to bonding closer than ever to the British mainland.

Protests against the British Army were so intense that areas of Bogside County were called “no-go zones”, where soldiers recklessly charged, recklessly armed attacks. However, Bloody Sunday hardened the front lines beyond all means, especially strengthening the Irish Republican Army.

“Many young people I spoke to in prison told me they would never have joined an IRA if it were not for what they witnessed on Bloody Sunday,” said Father Edward Daly, a priest. The priest helped carry a victim of the shooting, said in an interview in 1998. Father Daly passed away in 2016.

January 30, 1972, began in familiar ways. Civil rights activists have signaled their plans to protest the recently introduced British method of detaining people without trial. Authorities outlawed the protest, but it went on anyway.

The protesters, mostly Catholic, threw stones at the army. The military responded with rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons. Returning from the war, a top commander of the paratroopers ordered his troops to arrest suspected rebels without pursuing the peaceful protesters too closely.

But one middle officer partially ignored the order and allowed members of the unit to break cover behind an obstacle. As a result, “there is no separation between peaceful marchers and rioters, and by no means can soldiers only identify and arrest those following,” The 2010 investigative report said.

The killing spree happened at a chaotic speed. “Only about 10 minutes elapsed between the time the troops moved in vehicles into Bogside and the moment the last civilian was shot,” the report was written by Lord Saville of Newdigate, a prominent British judge who died. 12 years of investigation. and cost $280 million.

“Bloody Sunday was a tragedy for the bereaved and wounded, and a disaster for the people of Northern Ireland,” it concluded.

In the week after the shooting, in the Republic of Ireland, a crowd Burn down the British Embassy in Dublin. Protests against the killings spread as far as Chicago. And it was in Derry that huge crowds turned up for the funerals of 11 of the 13 people killed on Bloody Sunday.

According to the reconstruction launched during the 2010 inquest, the first person to die on the run from the soldiers was Jackie Duddy, 17 years old, a boxer with pictures – he was carried away by a small group of people, including Father Daly – becoming the totem of the horror of the day no less Hector Pieterson’s photoA 12-year-old South African student was shot dead in Soweto in 1976 when police opened fire on Black students protest against education in the era of apartheid. In the image of Bloody Sunday, the 17-year-old appears to be limping, and Father Daly waves a bloody handkerchief like an impromptu armistice flag.

Among the last of 13 people died in a day – pictured in a pool of his own blood – is Bernard McGuigan, 41, a factory worker, who was shot in the back of the head as he went to help Patrick Doherty, 31, a civil rights activist and home worker The machine was shot dead. He tries to crawl to safety.

In theory, every British soldier directly involved in the shootings – none of whom was ever officially identified or brought to trial – was issued with the rules of engagement listed in the known as the Yellow Card, which places narrow limits on shooting. The Saville report says those restrictions have largely been ignored.

Of the 13 people who died on January 30, only one, 17-year-old Gerald Donaghey, a member of the IRA’s youth wing, was found in possession of nail bombs. He was killed by a bullet that went through the body of Gerard McKinney, 35, a football team manager, who also died. According to Saville’s investigation, Mr. Donaghey did not attempt to bomb a nail when he became collateral; he is running away from the soldiers.

The Saville Report was ordered by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998, years after an investigation in 1972 was widely dismissed as a vindication of the British establishment and soldiers on the ground. . On June 15, 2010, another prime minister, David Cameron, finally issued an apologycalled the killings “unwarranted and unjustified.”

But such wounds are very slow to heal. Just in the run up to Sunday’s celebrations, taunting survivors, someone climbed a light pole in Derry to raise a banner of the Parachute Regiment. Half a century after the killings, the symbols of division and animosity remain in effect.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/29/world/europe/bloody-sunday-ireland.html 50 years on, the wounds of Bloody Sunday are still intact

Fry Electronics Team

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