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How useful are sources A, B, C and D to someone trying to find out the truth about the situation in Northern Ireland in January 1972 before Bloody Sunday?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How useful are sources A, B, C and D to someone trying to find out the truth about the situation in Northern Ireland in January 1972 before "Bloody Sunday"? Source A is an English cartoon entitled ' The Irish Frankenstein'. It is dated 1882, this automatically tells us it should be useful in providing background information. It does indeed paint a vivid picture of how the English viewed the Irish. In the cartoon we can see two figures, one being a giant monster and the other, an English doctor (Frankenstein) who looks very small in proportion to this beast. It is showing how the English government has created an out of control beast. This out of control beast is obviously Ireland for this source was published at the time of the Fenian uprising when the majority of civilians wanted Ireland to remain an independent country and to achieve this they resorted to violence. The source is extremely biased against the Irish Fenians. It is painting them in a way in which they would not picture themselves. A well-known phrase says: " One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter." To me this is precisely what the cartoon demonstrates. It is showing the portrayal of the Irish from the opinions of the English, this is just one point of view and I am sure that if the Fenians were to paint themselves it would be as heroes fighting for independence. The cartoon is a form of propaganda, published to maybe amuse and influence British citizens. I feel that source A is not only useful because it gives us a good idea of the general feeling in Britain before the events of Bloody Sunday but also because it tells us that the situation was a very much similar one hundred years before. Between the year 1882 and Bloody Sunday (1972) there doesn't appear to be much progression at all, no civil rights were introduced, Catholics and Protestants were still fighting over independence and violence was still being used to get your point of view across. ...read more.

Middle

He says: " I was administering the last rites to a boy of about 15 who had been shot by the soldiers in Rossville Street." This shows that he is trying to use emotion to persuade us to his way of thinking. However, just like source F this is a very biased interpretation from a certain persons point of view, both are trying to defend the side they believe is right. For this reason neither piece of evidence should be taken on its own, a wider range of sources is necessary. Having said this, it does not mean that neither source is useful. Although the accounts hold totally contrasting views both portray what happened on Bloody Sunday from the views of different groups of people. We know that both sources hold some element of truth. For example some would say that when source G says ' shot indiscriminately' it is totally correct as it has be proven that some people were shot with their hands in the air and there is also the issue of soldier H who shot two more rounds of ammunition then he was issued, not only did he do this but he did it recklessly with no aim or targets. However others would agree with source F when it says ' we came under fire' as at least one civilian was seen with what looked like a gun. Although both sources are useful in stating some clear facts, it must always be considered that if both are discussing the same day and the same set of events, why do they differ so greatly. The answer is obvious, personal opinion, position in society, upbringing, nationality etc. All these factors play an important part in explaining why there is so much intentional bias shown in both sources. In my opinion source F is more useful as evidence about Bloody Sunday. I say this because source G is the impressions of just one man; it does not possess all the facts. ...read more.

Conclusion

They are either from eyewitnesses or official reports. The author of each source is convinced of their version of events but many of them are contradictory. The only way to approach a study of Bloody Sunday is to try to take account of the vast range of contradictory evidence, and to be aware of where it comes from. Perhaps some of the most useful sources are the pictures because they do portray the historical context against which the tragedy was played out. There are no certainties away from the bald fact of thirteen dead. The rest is shrouded in controversy of which the following is just one example: One of the dead, by name Donaghue, was searched and nothing was found on his body, only for nail bombs to be found later. This suggests that they must have been planted although Widgery did not agree with this conclusion. In the chaos of that day people were confused, frightened, in a state of panic. They weren't thinking straight, discipline may have broken down amongst the protesters so that what started as a peaceful protest became at least in part, a riot. Military orders may not have been given clearly. Surely therefore the only way to the truth is by trying to learn from as many different sources as possible and trying to arrive at our own conclusion. Government reports are of little help; Widgery could not condemn the army, as at the time this would have been politically unacceptable. It will be difficult for the Saville Enquiry to exonerate the army because the political climate has changed and the force is with republicans today. It seems to me that mistakes were made on all sides. It was wrong to use the paratroopers, an elite fighting force not used to crowd control. Equally the idea that the protest march could pass off peacefully was perhaps fanciful. Mistakes were made by the leaders of both sides as well as by the ordinary people and soldiers caught up in the tragedy. ...read more.

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