Tag Archives: Bloody Sunday

Remembering Bloody Sunday’s uneaten Mars bar

First, the numbers: 45 years after 13 Catholic civil rights marchers were shot dead on Bloody Sunday, 18 members of the British Parachute Regiment that opened fire on them that day in Derry may soon face charges, John Kelly, brother of one of the victims, told The Irish Times.

Kelly also repeated the story he told me in 2001, when we met at the Bloody Sunday Trust, a museum, human rights advocacy and conflict resolution center. His brother Michael, 17, was carrying a Mars candy bar in his pocket at the time he was shot.

The sweet became part of the evidence in several tribunals that explored the events of Bloody Sunday. A 2010 report determined the victims (a 14th person died later) were innocent. British PM David Cameron apologized for the 1972 military action to the surviving families and the community. As yet, however, none of the soldiers has faced charges for the deaths.

More on the background and latest developments in this BBC story.

“We will be here as long as we need to be,” Kelly told me in 2001. “What’s a couple more years, since we have waited nearly 30 [now 45] to hopefully get truth and justice?”

The 1972 civil rights march in Derry, Northern Ireland, that became Bloody Sunday.

Derry’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ Bishop Dies at 82

Former Bishop of Derry Dr. Edward Daly, photographed in January 1972 waving a blood-stained handkerchief as he tied to help injured civil rights protesters pass through British troops, died 8 August 2016. He was 82.

The Irish Times called the Bloody Sunday photo “one of the defining images of the conflict in the North.” Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said his brother priest “literally spent himself in the service of others.”

Here’s the IT’s full news obit, and U.S. coverage from The New York Times. Also, my 2001 report from Derry about the conflict.

Dr. Edward Daly at Bloody Sunday in January 1972.

Dr. Edward Daly at Bloody Sunday in January 1972.

 

Former soldier arrested for 1972 Bloody Sunday killings

UPDATE: A petition calling for soldiers involved in Bloody Sunday to be granted immunity from prosecution has gained more than 20,000 supporters in three days, The Irish News reports. A protest march against the police investigation of the former paratroopers is also being planned in London for later in November.

ORIGINAL POST: A former British soldier has been arrested in connection with the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings of 14 unarmed civil rights protesters in Derry, Northern Ireland. See coverage from:

For Downton Abbey fans, a primer on revolutionary Ireland

image

What’s going to happen to Tom Branson and Lady Sybil?

As “Downton Abbey” fans watch Sunday for the next plot twists of the popular “Masterpiece” series on PBS, some might be wondering about the backdrop in Ireland at the time. Season Three begins with Tom and Sybil living in 1920s Dublin.

Here’s a quick primer on what happened in Irish politics immediately before and during this period:

Season One of “Downton Abbey” begins in April 1912 with news of the Titanic disaster. Men like Branson were talking again about Ireland becoming an independent country after centuries of English (and later British) rule. In the spring of 1914, the British Parliament authorized a form of limited domestic autonomy for Ireland called home rule. But the political accommodation was immediately suspended due to the outbreak of war with Germany. Matthew Crawley and the footmen William and Thomas fight; Branson didn’t go because as an Irish national, he wasn’t subject to the draft.

Though Britain promised to reinstate home rule after the war, militant republican factions among Irish nationalists grew restless. (Here, “republican” means favoring elected representation instead of a monarchy, not the American political party.)  At Easter 1916, republicans launched an insurrection in Dublin by seizing several government buildings and posting the Proclamation of the Irish Republic:

IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom…

The revolutionaries had scant support in Dublin and the rest of Ireland, since many Irish men volunteered to fight on the continent with British troops. The “Easter Rising” was crushed in a week. Branson remarks in Season Two that he would have returned to Ireland to fight with the republicans if the fighting hadn’t ended so fast. Plus, he was sweet on Sybil.

The British government soon made the tactical error of executing the revolutionary leaders. This created a backlash in Ireland (and America) that shifted popular support to the nationalist cause. By January 1919, two months after the armistice ending World War I, Irish republicans once again declared independence, established their own government in Dublin and began a guerilla war against British military and police forces. The conflict, known as the Irish War of Independence or Anglo-Irish War, took place about the time that Season Three starts.

The brutality of the period is probably best exemplified by the events of “Bloody Sunday” in November 1920. Irish republican operatives under the direction of Michael Collins carried out the assassinations of 19 British Army intelligence officers living in Dublin. The British retaliated later the same day by opening fire on the civilian crowd at a football match, killing 14 and wounding scores more.

The two sides reached a ceasefire in the summer of 1921 and began to negotiate a peace treaty. In early 1922 this resulted in the creation of the Irish Free State for 26 counties in southern Ireland. Six northeast counties remained linked to Britain and were partitioned as Northern Ireland.

Free State status was similar to Britain’s arrangements with Canada and Australia. It provided more domestic autonomy than originally contemplated by home rule, but Ireland remained under the monarchy and far short of an independent republic. This caused a split between hardline republicans and moderate nationalists. The ensuing Irish Civil War over the next year claimed more lives than the three-year conflict with Britain.

The Free State forces prevailed by the summer of 1923 and a decade of violence in Ireland finally came to an end. The 26 counties of the south would not achieve republic status until 1949. The six northeast counties remain partitioned to this day.

For “Downton” fans looking for more details, the BBC has an excellent online presentation that explores the entire period “through essays, photographs, sound archive, music and newspapers from the period.” The Irish Bureau of Military History also has a deep archive of interviews, maps and images from the war years.