While on the bus, we listened to a song by Tommy Sands called ‘There Were Roses,’ which describes the tension between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland during the time of greatest conflict. The song, which is based on real events, tells the story of how two friends, one Catholic and the other Protestant, were determined to stay friends despite the conflict, yet were torn apart by death. This song truly illustrates the struggles and bloody conflict that occurred in Northern Ireland. However, the tour of Derry and Belfast opened my eyes even more and the evidence from the conflicts found in both towns added to the message of the song.
In Derry in January 1972 Bloody Sunday occurred, resulting in the deaths of fourteen people ages 17-59. Despite the peaceful protest of the Nationalists, the British opened fire and killed innocent people. After Bloody Sunday occurred, a three month long investigation was launched, saying the murdered people were considered guilty and the soldiers innocent. Derry’s citizens knew the people were innocent, for there was a peaceful march. After hearing this, I thought back to the song, which says, ‘And those who give the orders, Are not the ones to die,’ meaning the ‘ones who give the orders,’ in the case the British soldiers, don’t suffer the consequences. Originally, the people of Derry had to live with effects of the massacre and the verdict saying the British were innocent even though they caused the pain. To this day, the people of Derry, such as our tour guide and the museum director who both lost relatives on Bloody Sunday, are still reminded of the pain through memorials and the tension that is still prominent in Derry and Northern Ireland. Thankfully, a new investigation began with the new verdict saying that in fact the British soldiers were guilty of murdering fourteen innocent people. By releasing the verdict and apologizing, Britain continued to pave the way to peace. Peace is necessary for better future, and hopefully the lines, ‘But centuries of hatred have ears that do not hear, An eye for an eye that was all that filled their minds, and another eye for another eye till everyone was blind’ from ‘There Were Roses’ will not be as prominent in the future of Derry and Northern Ireland.