Bloody Sunday

27 Sep

I am fortunate enough to be on a course where we will have the opportunity to listen to guest speaks, often on a Tuesday evening. I am particularly looking forward to hearing from Gary Duffy, former Northern Ireland correspondent, who will be visiting on the 12th October.
My interest in the news and politics of Northern Ireland stems from my adoration of Irish mythology and literature. I am fascinated by the concept of Kathleen Ni Houlihan, or ‘Mother Ireland’, Ireland personified as a fragile woman who needs to be protected by Ireland’s men. W. B. Yeats defines the importance of the mythical Goddess,

‘She was Ireland herself, that Kathleen Ni Houlihan for whom so many songs have been sung and about whom so many stories have been told and for whose sake so many have gone to their death’.
The idea of myth has, for many years, been linked with the Bloody Sunday shootings of 1972. Both parties had their side of the story and the many years from which the event happened allowed for myth to creep in and distort the fact.

The ongoing inquiry from the event is problematic; witnesses from the march have had their memories of the occurrences tampered with over the last forty years with flawed media reports and built up anger. It is difficult to give a detailed account of an event which happened a month ago, let alone forty years. It is baffling to comprehend that new information is still being released from the event to this very day.

When the final verdict was released on the news in June this year, a huge sigh of relief was felt amongst thousands, in particular the campaigners of the 38-year struggle who were able to finally celebrate.

The reason NICRA organised a march on that fateful Sunday in Derry was to protest against internment, ‘an initiative adopted in August 1971 on the part of the Northern Ireland government, with the full support of the British government, to imprison without trial individuals suspected of paramilitary-related activities’ (Blaney, 2007).

The word ‘suspected’ is problematic; these individuals were being imprisoned on the basis of ‘half truths’, reasons for their suspect in some cases completely invented. Therefore, it could be argued that the march was a protest against inequitable ‘myth’. However, recollections from the event appear extremely regimented, the ‘facts’ are displayed in a coherent form.
It would seem that the British media may have invented some kind of justification for the horrific shootings, as depicted thorugh Paul Greengrass’ Bloody Sunday, an English officer says, ‘you’ve got to find some justification’.
The film demonstrates reasons behind the media’s invention of myth in order to savour the reputation of the British soldiers in question as one NICRA representative states, ‘a moment of truth and a moment of shame’.
I would argue that the British media withholds a tremendous influence on the Troubles, adapting on established myths and in some cases inventing myth. In Bloody Sunday the members of NICRA (Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association) are aware of this, as the film ends with the statement,

‘British journalists go home to your people and tell them what was done to the people in Derry’, as though there is an assumption they will write the complete opposite.

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