Bloody Sunday, also known as the Bogside Massacre occurred on 30th January, 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland. In this incident, the British soldiers shot dead 13 civil-rights protesters and witnesses, including thirteen males and seven teenagers. Several others had been wounded in the incident. In the aftermath of the Bogside Massacre, the Widgery Tribunal cleared the British authorities and soldiers of blame and justified the shooting as “bordering on the reckless” . However, the tribunal faced immense criticism post which the Saville Inquiry had been established in 1998 under the supervision of Lord Saville of Newdigate, to look into the events. After the 12-year inquiry, the report was announced public on 2010, which comprised of findings of fault that reopened the controversy, thereby leading to criminal investigations for various soldiers involved in the massacre . The report further declared that the individuals who died on the event of the massacre were unarmed due to which the killings were unjustifiable. After the publication of the report, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, formally apologized the victims as well as the public on behalf of the country .
In 1969, Britain sent its troops to Derry as a measure of peacekeeping. The nationalist community, which was predominantly Catholic, welcomed the troops as a desirable alternative to the discrimination of local security forces of Northern Ireland . The residents of Bogside declared the region free and denied recognizing the power of Northern Ireland’s government as it was led by the Protestant community. Opposition to governmental policies, for example, internment of terrorist suspects without trial and suspected rigging of electoral constituencies in favor of Protestant voters stirred a nascent civil right movement in Northern Ireland . Since the demands of the local people with respect to the civil rights movement were strong, Derry became an obvious preference for mass demonstrations. Thousands of people gathered on 30th January, 1972, in which prolonged conflicts between local youth and the British Army in opposition to the march led to several deaths . The protest was officially illegal as processions and protests had been banned across Northern Ireland since 1971.
The Bogside Massacre led to the creation of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), which spawned subsequent conflicts in Northern Ireland . The incident cast a shadow of revenge across the region. After the death of Beattie and Cusack, the Provisional IRA gained immense mass support. The support had been it had been toughened with vague restlessness about the ethics and morals of taking the lives of people. Upon the death of British soldiers, the people of Ireland celebrated a holiday. The event enhanced nationalist antipathy and hostility across Ireland towards the British army and worsened the violent conflict that was persistent over years. Thousands of Catholic youth, both men and women voluntarily became a part of the Provisional IRA, thereby preparing themselves for the armed campaign . As a part of the conflict, irate crowds put to fire the British Embassy located at Dublin. They bombed police stations and attacked British soldiers. The Irish foreign minister, Patrick Hillary, declared his primary aim as throwing Britain out of Ireland .
In terms of conflict context, the British Army had been deployed in Ireland to aid civil power that was welcomed by Irish nationalists as a neutral force when compared to the B-specials or the Northern Irish Royal Ulster Constabulary . When the British Army shot down unarmed protesters, there is no validation of the fact that peaceful protests transformed into repression and armed struggles. Northern Ireland’s Stormont Parliament had been suspended in reply to the Bogside Massacre by the British Army on 28th March, 1972. Direct Rule on Ireland had been imposed from London and the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1999 established the Ireland Assembly . The Bogside Massacre accelerated the dynamics of the existing conflict. It offered the Provisional IRA more sympathizers and activists, while they were already getting ready for an attack on the Britain’s occupation of Ireland.
The Bogside Massacre has been showcased as an illustration of state crime with regards to several deaths and successive attempts for covering up actions, which summed up conspiracy to murder. One of the major consequences of the conflicts that took place as a result of the Bogside Massacre was legitimization of violence and its subsequent intensification . The inquiry conducted to reinvestigate the Bogside Massacre revealed that it was mutual hostility between the locals and the British Army that burst out into a massacre. When Saville’s report declared that the British Army opened fire on unarmed protesters who posed no threat, it provoked criticism among the public towards the British Army . This further intensified the conflict as there was lack of evidence to validate the allegations. While the British Army was already aware before the incident of the Bogside Massacre that serious and genuine attempts were being made at the maximum possible extent towards a peaceful and nonviolent settlement across Northern Ireland, the incident triggered hostility and mutual hatred among the public.
Irrespective of the occurrence of the Bogside Massacre, the loyalist paramilitaries had reacted as they did in the context of conflict between Britain and Ireland. On the other hand, the British Army admitted that it organized a counter campaign to fight insurgency prevailing in the colonial wards of Malaysia and Aden . In the 1970s, the British Army was too ready to consider Catholics as their enemy and killed several civilians. The relationship of the British Army and the nationalists poisoned permanently with the event of the Bogside Massacre. The incident led to the organization of the Northern Resistance Movement and the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association . It stands out as one of the most tragic events in the history of the United Kingdom as there were higher number of fatalities and casualties caused by the British Army in the view of the media and the public. On the whole, the Bogside Massacre contributed an extra mile to the existing troubles; however, the persistence of killing was an outcome of decisions taken on all aspects .
BBC. "Bloody Sunday." n.d. BBC. 17 04 2016 <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/bloody_sunday>.
Cobain, Ian and Richard Norton-Taylor. "Bloody Sunday inquiry reveals mutual hostility that exploded into massacre." 15 06 2010. The Guardian. 17 04 2016 <http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2010/jun/15/bloody-sunday-inquiry-derry-massacre>.
Dorney, John. "Today in Irish History, Bloody Sunday in Derry, 30 January 1972." 01 30 2012. The Irish Story. 17 04 2016 <http://www.theirishstory.com/2012/01/29/today-in-irish-history-january-30-1972-bloody-sunday-in-derry/#.VxJeZvl97IU>.