Bloody Sunday was an incident on 30 January 1972 in Derry Northern Ireland in which twenty-six unarmed civil rights protesters or bystanders were shot. They were shot by soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment of the British Army during a march by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. Thirteen men, seven of whom were teenagers, died immediately or soon after. The report of the Saville Inquiry accepted by the British government and made public this week, found that all of those shot were unarmed, and that the killings were unjustified and unjustifiable. Five of those wounded were shot in the back.
The Saville Inquiry was established in January 1998 to look at the events of Bloody Sunday. This was one year before I retired from full-time work as a lecturer in Australia. In March 2000 when the Inquiry’s oral hearings commencd, I had taken a sea-change near the Bass Strait in northern Tasmania and had become a full-time writer and poet.
The Inquiry’s findings made public just three days ago, a decade into my retirement. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, outlined the findings of the Saville inquiry. It was not his responsibility, he emphasized, to defend the indefensible. It was, he said, the fault of the "poor bloody infantry,” not the officers, not the politicians, not the government. These findings could re-open the controversy, and potentially lead to criminal investigations for some soldiers involved in the killings. The IRA, the Provisional Irish Republican Army, had initiated a campaign against the partition of Ireland. This campaign had begun in the two years prior to Bloody Sunday, but public perceptions of the day boosted the status of, and recruitment into, the IRA enormously. Bloody Sunday remains among the most significant events in the troubles of Northern Ireland chiefly because the killings were carried out by the army and not paramilitaries in full view of the public and the press.
I was just about to begin my first year teaching secondary school in Whyalla South Australia. Within two weeks of Bloody Sunday I had over 100 students in classes in my first year as a teacher in the dry-dog-biscuit of a land in northern South Australia. I was 28, the secretary of the Baha’i community of Whyalla, a community which formed its first local spiritual assembly less than a dozen weeks later.-Ron Price with thanks to Wikipedia, 18 June 2010.
Ireland is haunted by its history:
by seven centuries of conflict with
its neighbour across the sea; with
the trauma of a 19th century famine.
This difficult and tangled history
is part of an extrordinary cultural
flowering beginning in that same 19th
century when two god-men walked on Earth:
a silent revolution began which affected
the very stones which began to speak!!!
18 June 2010
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