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Why Are Unionists and Nationalists divided over the events of Bloody Sunday, 1972?

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Introduction

Why Are Unionists and Nationalists divided over the events of Bloody Sunday, 1972? There are some facts about the event called 'Bloody Sunday' that are 'undisputed' facts. The first of these facts is that on the 30th of January 1972 a huge protest (approx. 15000 people) took place against internment in the city of Londonderry. The civil rights movement organized this march. Marches at this time were banned so what was happening was against the law. The protestors gathered near the center of the city and troops from the parachute regiment sealed the area off. While the troops did this youths within the protest threw missiles at the troops. The events that followed are what has cause the confusion but one fact that has come out of it is that the members of the parachute regiment fired bullets into the crowd killing 13 people on the day and 1 person late died from related injuries. The next day after the incident the then prime minister launched an inquiry into the events which was to be headed by the lord chief justice Widgery. The result of this report came out exactly 11 weeks after the event and stated that shots had been fired at the soldiers and they were firing in 'self defense' Bloody Sunday happened as a result of number of reasons. ...read more.

Middle

are committed to democratic paths and have no violent connections whereas the IRA have a close connection to the IRA. The main Unionist parties are the UUP (Ulster Unionist Party) and the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party). The UUP are another party which only use democratic paths, the DUP does this also but is a more hardline party. The paramilitaries of the two sides were also different. The Nationalist paramilitaries such as the IRA and the provisional IRA were formed to protect the catholic areas of NI but eventually became the aggressors. 'In the early years of the conflict loyalist paramilitaries simply reacted to the violence of the IRA.' (Walsh 2000 p. 94) That quote tells me that the loyalist paramilitaries were more like a knee jerk reaction of the unionist community. In the weeks and months after Bloody Sunday many Unionists believed what was told in the Widgery report. They believed that the nationalists were the aggressors at Bloody Sunday so in effect got what they deserve and are now causing a fuss over something they started. The view of the British troops as being on their side possibly influenced this reaction, as they wanted to believe that their side was in the right and the nationalists were wrong. ...read more.

Conclusion

'Bloody Sunday' was a dreadful mistake and should never have happened, but there were no orders or directives from on high instructing the paratroopers to do what they did.' (Extract from Provos by Peter Taylor cited in Walsh 2000 p. 93) They still however think of the soldiers who were their as murderers and hold those who died as martyrs to carry on the cause. I understand that people in Northern Ireland are still divided over Bloody Sunday because they want to believe their relative sides. The nationalists have to believe the soldiers were completely in the wrong because they see the soldiers as an invading force anyway so this just distorts their view on Bloody Sunday. The Unionists have to stay on the soldiers' side because they see the soldiers as on their side their guardians if you will. An even bigger reason however is that the nationalists are so adamant that the soldiers are the cold-hearted murderers and fired without provocation. These two sides have to support the opposite sides they cannot admit they are wrong or give any leeway. So in summary I feel the nationalists and the unionists are divided over bloody Sunday because they cannot be any other way. It is built within them that whatever the other faction has said it must be wrong and especially about incidents like Bloody Sunday. ...read more.

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