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The events that occurred in Derry on the 0th January 17 became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’. Why have these events produced such different historical interpretations?

On the 0th January 17 thirteen ‘unarmed’ men were shot dead in Derry, Northern Ireland. They were killed by members of the British Parachute regiment whilst on a civil rights march. This was to be known as ‘Bloody Sunday’.

Since that historical day, people have argued at who fired the first shot and so caused different interpretations of that day.

An inquiry was opened called the ‘Widgery report’, which dealt with all the issues and views of ‘Bloody Sunday’ and tried to find out the truth about what happened, but this report did not prosecute the soldiers involved and did not clear the names of the dead. The inquiry was said to be a cover up from the British Government.

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The scenario and landscape of Derry consists of tall flats on minimal open spacing. Therefore sound would vibrate of these high walls ultimately causing confusion on both sides and this is a view many would take, especially the Catholic Irish people. They believe that the Paratroopers did in fact fire the first shot and the echoes from that were heard by other troops mistakenly believing that it was IRA gunfire from the crowd or upon the buildings and the Widgery report takes this into account.

The paratroopers deny this and say that they were fired upon first and witnessed IRA members with guns, petrol, nail and acid bombs, but this cannot be clarified. They also say they only fired upon the men with weapons. An ex-soldier who served in Northern Ireland says ‘we came under attack first’ and the soldiers were accused of firing indiscriminately, but if this was true ‘why were no women or children killed?’ This quote from an ex-soldier is taken from Source A, the ‘Daily Mail’ in September 1. This source is in favour of the paratroopers as only their views are included along with the British Governments. It deals with the new inquiry, the ‘Lord Saville Report’, which is intended this time not to be bias and it holds new evidence. The paratroopers believe that the new inquiry is intended to ‘swing public opinion against’ them and that the Prime Minister Tony Blair opened this inquiry to please Sinn Fein in order to encourage peace talks, ‘appease Sinn Fein’.

The Government throughout this conflict have been supportive of the Parachute Regiment. In 17 Derry was seen as enemy territory and an embarrassment to the economy. It was also known to house IRA members. But lately, with peace talks in process the government opened a new inquiry in order to settle the conflict - but can that ever be done?

New forensic evidence is said to ‘demolish a key finding’ in the ‘set up’ Widgery report.

Family groups are confidant and ‘hailed new and independent scientific evidence’ in their fight to prove that those who died were innocent. Source B, (taken from the Guardian in 1; written by the Irish correspondent) is pleased with the new evidence which will clear the names of the victims. This report is against British views and only holds Catholic responses. According to the paper the ‘innocent and defenceless victims’ were ‘murdered’ by the Paratroopers. It also claims that illegal ‘dum-dum’ bullets were used and at the chance of arrest, the men were shot from ‘a metre away’.

Nationalists, including the IRA say that there were no members in the area on that fateful day and deny that any of the men shot were members. Bloody Sunday therefore caused a boost in support for Nationalist groups.

Source C, an ITN news report in 000 claims that a witness overheard soldiers in a pub before the shooting. The soldiers talked of ‘cleaning the Bog’ and using heavy armour such as tanks to ‘clear the barricades’. This is a ‘witness report’ but it is one mans word against another and can’t be backed up therefore it may not be true.

I don’t believe any one will ever own up on saying who fired the ‘first shot’ and taking the landscape into consideration I don’t think anyone will find out either. The Saville report is on going today and the Irish people hope the names of the dead will be cleared from criminal activity.

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