January 30th 1972 was a dark day for Northern Ireland. During a civil rights march in the Bogside the British army opened fire on marchers.
The result was fourteen dead Catholics. The exact facts about the event still remain controversial. I will attempt to look into why interpretations of Bloody Sunday differ, using the sources provided and my own studies. In source A when confronted with evidence that points towards blaming the paratroopers for the deaths a soldiers denounces it as “rubbish”. He then goes on to say, “For years people have accused us of firing indiscriminately.We weren’t. ” The paratroopers were against another enquiry into Bloody Sunday as they saw that justice had had its way in the first inquiry, they saw another inquiry as just to appease the Catholics. Another reason was that the paras were afraid that the new enquiry would uncover some things that they would rather was kept secret, did the paras have something to hide? One of the reasons for the enquiry happening now is to help peace talks in Ireland.
What is the army’s story for the events of Bloody Sunday?The Army claims that when protesters near “Aggro Corner” started to confront soldiers with stones and missiles they attempted to disperse them using CS gas, a water cannon and rubber bullets. Which is recognized as truth. Next the soldiers were told to go into the Bogside to arrest protesters. Soldiers claim that when they attempted to make their arrests they were fired on from the nearby Rossville flats. The army then returned fire. As explained by Col Wilford, found on the BBC website, “that’s just what we got, snipers” and when he said to a BBC reporter “I personally had shots fire at me.He believes that some protesters were shot by their own “indiscriminate firing. ” There are reasons that the army would say this.
The government could not show the British army to be killers, which would be bad publicity for Britain. There are other reasons why the army have upheld their story for so long. If a soldier had admitted that the army did fire on innocent civilians other soldiers may have struck out against him. Although if the Army did decide to change there story it could be seen why. One reason would be to appease the government in Ireland, this may have helped with the peace talks in Ireland and may be to Britains advantage.
Also more and more evidence is surfacing against the paras, forensics is coming on leaps and bounds and now more and more can be proved. This is shown in source B. A forensic report shows that one of the victims was shot in the back of the head with a type of bullet made illegal by the Geneva Convention. It seems difficult to believe the Army in light of this evidence.
The other side involved in this incident were the protesters. They claim the as the Paratroop Regiment moved to make their arrests they simply open fire on the crowd. They claim that from the protesters there was no fire what so ever.In source B its tells how forensic suggest that one marcher was shot through the back of the head, not exactly an offensive stance. Other eyewitnesses of the shootings give their stories. Alana Burke says how she saw “old men battered to the ground.
” Alex Nash says “they were there, the three bodies, innocent boys. ” These were found on the BBC website. These accounts were given to the BBC reporters from the hospitals where the victims were being treated. So they could me bias because the people are obviously feeling badly towards the Army for shooting them and putting them in such a state.Because they were being interviewed by the BBC they might have seen it as a chance to get back at the paras. A lot of evidence stands by the protesters.
But if in fact they are not telling the truth there are reasons why this could be. The marchers were marching against the policy of interment in Northern Ireland, the unfair right for security forces to arrest without trial. The marchers could see this as a great opportunity in terms of propaganda, to make the Army look like murderers and rally support against them and support for the IRA.They saw the Army as not a peace force but an occupation force and felt that they needed to rid themselves of these invaders. There are other witnesses to the event of Bloody Sunday. Impartial witnesses, or are they? Such as Father Daly, later Bishop of Derry.
He gave the last rites to many of the dead and severely injured on Bloody Sunday. He says that “they just came out firing, there was no provocation whatsoever. ” As a priest and a man of religion he is expected to be impartial. But this cannot be totally trusted. Some priests in Northern Ireland were of quite extreme nature. Some were even members of the IRA.
So his view can’t be totally trusted. Another supposedly “impartial” witness was the BBC cameraman Cyril Cave was with the marchers on January 30th ’72. He said that he personally saw no shooters in the marchers. As a journalist he is expected to be independent. Although he could have been looking for a good story and perverting the truth somewhat to get a good “scoop. ” But besides that I see him as the most reliable witness. There are many conflicting views to what happened on Bloody Sunday and it is hard to come to any conclusion about the real events.
Although it is easy to see where each view comes from.With such heated conflict between the Nationalists and Unionists it seemed inevitable that something like this would happen. In some ways you can see why the Army might lose their cool with the marchers. When they were on operations in Ireland they were constantly being attacked with stones and nail bombs etc. The soldiers must have been itching to get their own back.
Also you can see why the marchers, if they did, would fire on the Army. They saw the Army as a force of oppression and wanted to break free. With such heated rivalry and conflicting views it is difficult to make any judgement.