– BLOODY SUNDAY – BACKGROUND
of Ireland Act (1920) created Northern Ireland (N.I.) by dividing
the 6 north-eastern counties of Ireland from the other 26 counties.
These 6 counties, Fermanagh, Antrim, Tyrone, Derry, Armagh and
Down, had a majority of Unionists. The other 26 counties, and
Ireland as a whole, had a Nationalist/Republican majority and
had supported Sinn Féin in its attempts to establish
an independent Ireland.
Unionists refused to live in an Ireland that would be controlled
by Nationalists/Republicans. As a result of this the British
Government created Northern Ireland. One third of the population
of Northern Ireland were Nationalists/Republicans, who did not
want to be divided from the rest of Ireland.
its history NI was unstable. Unionists, fearing attack from
the Irish Republic and their Nationalist neighbours, would not
share power with Nationalists and gerrymandered electoral boundaries
in areas in which Nationalists were in the majority to ensure
that Nationalists were denied power.
resented being governed by the Unionists and saw little hope
in elections, because they were unable to win power. The Unionist
party could not be defeated by the Nationalist party because
when NI was created it was designed to always have a Unionist
of NI was attacked by militant Republicians - the IRA, in the
1920's, 1930's, 1940's, 1950's and 1960's. Between 1956 - 1962
the IRA had attacked NI but in 1962 they stopped because they
had no support from Nationalists living there.
in the 1960's that the possibility of a settlement might exist.Sean
Lemass, the Taoiseach met Terence O'Neill, the Prime Minister
of N.I, to discuss improving relations. This enraged some Loyalist
extremists and the UVF became active again in 1966.
the Nationalist community, while concern about the border was
decreasing, there was increasing anger about discrimination
in jobs, housing and voting rights.
to the formation of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association
on the 1st February 1967. The NICRA took to the streets to demand
their aims, which were:
1. One man one vote in local elections
2. the removal of gerrymandered boundaries
3. anti-discrimination laws
4. fair allocation of public housing
5. repeal of the special powers act
6. disbanding the RUC
On 5th Oct
1968, in Derry City, the worlds media witnessed civil rights
demonstrators being attacked by the police. This turned the
Civil Rights Movement into a mass movement.
Rights demonstrator being arrested, October 5th 1968
November 1968, in response to the Civil Rights campaign, Terrence
O'Neill announced the following Reform Package.
1. local councils to allocate housing on a points system
2. an Ombudaman to be appointed to appoint grievances
3. Derry Corporation to be replaced
4. local gov to be reformed
5. Special powers act to be reformed
reforms angered Unionists who opposed any change and failed
to satisfy Nationalists, who wanted more changes. Terence O'Neill
was in trouble.
Jan 1969 a civil rights march from Belfast to Derry took place.
On the last day the march was attacked by loyalists twice before
reaching Derry. That night rioting took place. Relations between
Derry's Nationalists, the police and government got steadily
worse. On 12th August 1969, during the annual Unionist Apprentice
Boys parade in Derry, violence erupted.
youths occupy the roof of the Rosville Flats,
which dominated the entrance to the Bogside.
the parade passed the edge of the Bogside stones were thrown.
Police responded by driving the Nationalists into the Bogside
but when they tried to follow them into the area they were stopped.
Petrol bombs, stones and bottles were used by the residents
to stop the police from entering. After 2 days the police, exhausted
and demoralized, were replaced by British Soldiers. The rioting
ended in Derry when it became clear that the soldiers wouldn't
try to enter the Bogside.
The first clash between residents and police on the edge
of the Bogside.
violence in Derry ended but in Belfast it continued into the
next day, with 6 people being killed, 150 homes burnt and 3,500
families fleeing their homes. On 15th August British soldiers
were on the streets of Belfast.
Violence continued and the IRA, who had been all but extinct
in Aug 1969, became more involved. In Belfast clashes between
Nationalists and Unionists continued and in July 1970, following
one of these clashes, the Army sealed off the Lower Falls area
for 2 days.
violence increased the Stormont government came under increasing
pressure to clamp down on the IRA, and on 9th August 1971 internment
NI 342 men were arrested and imprisoned without trial. The reaction
of the Nationalist community was furious.This anger was reinforced
when news of the treatment of the internees, the "hooded
men" became known. This anger took the form of increased
support for the IRA. It was also expressed in a series of protest
marches organized by NICRA.
of the protests took place in Derry on the 30th Jan 1972, the
day that is now known as Bloody Sunday.