Bloody Sunday

9 Dec

The ongoing conflict between the Protestant Unionists and Catholic Nationalists has intrigued me very much since we started learning about it in our Irish Life & Cultures class. I was thrilled when we had the chance to visit Northern Ireland last weekend to learn even more about it. The Troubles, a period of heightened violence and tension between the two sides, lasted about 25 years. Learning about this time period was the highlight of my experience in class. Traveling to Belfast and Derry even more so sparked my interest. While in Derry, we were able to learn even more about an event we had touched upon in class, called Bloody Sunday. We visited a museum that was nearly all dedicated to Bloody Sunday and the victims of it.

One day on January 30th, 1972, around 10,000 marchers were exercising their right to peaceful protesting in Derry.  The nationalists were protesting the internment, or arrest and confinement without trial, of nearly 2,000 people. 1,874 of these were Catholic/nationalists, and only 107 were Protestant/loyalist. The people taken into custody were political prisoners, taken at the discretion of the Protestant unionists and the British Armed forces. The government had the original route of the protest sealed off by British soldiers.  However, this did not stop the nationalists from continuing their march.  They redirected their protest to the Free Derry Corner, which is in the Bogside. British troops were sent to the Bogside, and were ordered to shoot rounds to deter people from protesting. A man, who was running away from the troops, not causing a threat to anyone, was shot and killed during this first set of rounds. The British Army continued firing at innocent civilians. The troops were ordered to cease fire, but the shooting into the crowd did not stop. Twelve more people were killed, many of which were shot while stopping to help someone else that had been shot. In addition to the thirteen killed, fourteen people were injured. This day of peaceful protest against the injustices turned into a horrific and tragic day that produced even more reason for the Catholics to protest the severe corruption of Northern Ireland. The troops claimed that the people they shot were armed; however, this was not the case. It was not until two years ago that the truth finally came out and the British government apologized for their actions on what came to be known as Bloody Sunday.

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