Northern Ireland today is the example of reconciliation of the communities that were for years divided because of the religious and political issues.  In 1998 the government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Government of Ireland signed the Good Friday Agreement to end over three decades of conflicts between Protestant and Catholics. The conflict between the Ulster Unionist, and the Nationalist are centuries old. The Protestant Unionist, appealed to remain a part of the United Kingdom, while the Catholics liked to assemble with Republic of Ireland. This conflict included not only the political disputes, but brought the violence and terror to the streets of Northern Ireland. Bloody Sunday is a recent history incident that occurred on 30th January 1972, when British army soldiers killed thirteen civilians in Londonderry during the civil rights march against the internment without trial. The Government of Northern Ireland introduced special Power Act in August 1971 that allowed arrests and detention without judicial process.

According to World Socialist Web Site article Saville inquiry continuous cover up of Bloody Sunday massacre “under the Special Powers Act, mass arrest began and by-mid January 1972 there were 600 internees”. Such a brutal response created wage of revolt that explode in the civil right struggle.  “The brutal response of the British bourgeoisie in Northern Ireland was conditioned by the fear of an emerging challenge to their rule, not just in the north, but throughout the UK”, suggested Chris Marsden from the editorial board of World Socialist Web Site. (Marsden, C. 2010, June 18)

The glimpse of the violence that happened in 1972 is portrayed in the movie Bloody Sunday directed by Paul Greengrass. The movie tells the story on Ivan Cooper who was prominent figure of the civil rights movement and founder member of nationalist SDLP. As BBC stated in the movie review of January 30th2002, “Ivan Copper is not the name of the lips of many people.”  BBC in 2002 movie review Bloody Sunday leader finds fait in film wrote the Greengrass “remains a self-confessed idealist who came to politics because he believed in the notion that Catholic and Protestant working class could be united”. (Bloody Sunday leader finds faith in film 2002, January 30)

Despite the central role Copper had in the Bloody Sunday movie, an official report published last year rejected his claims that the journalist from the Sunday Times did not interview him.

For years and in the second official inquiry for Bloody Sunday that was initiated by the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Cooper blamed that his interview to Sunday Times journalist John Berry was fabricated. Still, the role and opinion of Greengrass is important because of his stands that use of force of British paratroops helped only IRA to increase its membership and to involved Northern Ireland in deadly violence for more then two decades.

“Before Bloody Sunday, I believe there were no more than 30 to 40 IRA volunteers in Derry. They had a very small base, small amounts of hardware and, most important, very little support”, remarked Copper for BBC in 2002. Not only the actors and eye – witnesses of Bloody Sunday events hold the position that the bloody victory belongs to the IRA movement. Jenny McCartney who writes a social and political analysis for the online edition of the British newspaper Telegraph stated that the after Bloody Sunday events IRA gained more supporters among “radicalized young Catholic man”.  “I was not yet a year old on Bloody Sunday: I grew up in Northern Ireland under its long toxic shadow. Its sole beneficiary was the IRA. There was only one Bloody Sunday, but thereafter the IRA and the Loyalist paramilitaries ensured that civilian blood flowed every day of the week”, underscored McCartney. (Bloody Sunday: The only winners were the IRA 2010, June 12).

In the 5,000 – page document that was coordinated by the Lord Saville and prepared for dozen years, he assessed that “What happened on Bloody Sunday strengthened the Provisional IRA, increased nationalist resentment and hostility towards the Army and exacerbated the violent conflict of the years that followed. Bloody Sunday was a tragedy for the bereaved and the wounded, and a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland.”

The presence of the IRA members in the movie is almost invisible, but the viewers should be culpable to identify they strengthened their position in Northern Ireland after the British soldiers killed unarmed civilians. The Saville report described that Official IRA and Provisional IRA was among the civil rights protesters on 30th January. “What we have concluded, however, is that there is no evidence that suggested to us that any member of the Provisional IRA used or intended to use the march itself for the purpose of engaging the security forces with guns or bombs”, was suggested in the Saville report.  The report, nevertheless, notified that “Martin McGuinness was armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun on Bloody Sunday and we cannot eliminate the possibility that he fired this weapon after the soldiers had come into the Bogside”.  (Report of Bloody Sunday Inquiry. 2010, June 15)

This lead as to crucial and dramatic moment in the movie Bloody Sunday and that is the action of the British soldiers against the civilians at the protest. Catholic community disputed the report conducted by Lord Widgery who reported, “Paratroopers firing had “bordered on the reckless” and concluded “the soldiers had been fired upon the first and some of the victims had handled weapons. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair commissioned the new inquiry for the Bloody Sunday events in 1998.  The report was published on 15th June last year followed by the statement of current British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. In a statement to the House on the Saville Inquiry, Brown affirmed the findings of the report. “What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong”, appraised Brown. (PM: Statement on Saville Inquiry. 2010, June 15)

Then, Brown expressed what Lord Saville concludes on the balance of used armed force against civilians at the protest.  “None of the causalities shot by soldiers of Support Company was armed with a firearm”, appraised Lord Saville in his report. Even though, the Saville report does not indicated the responsibility of the authorities for toleration or encouragement of unjustified lethal force, still recognized the lack of discipline among armed forces.

The contrast between civilians and British armed force is apparent in the movie Bloody Sunday. It was filmed with the documentary approach to make the events of Northern Ireland history more closed to the viewers. I can agree with the approach of the director Greengrass used in the movie to catch at least a glimpse of a personal and collective memory drama of Northern Ireland history. It took more than two decades for the British Government to apology for the Bloody Sunday.  The revision of the past and the collective memory is something that every nation should face in their history. The use of documentary approach and showing the drama in the last minutes of its film, Grengrass opens the possibility to every viewer to seek for its true of the Bloody Sunday happenings. The role of the press and media is only a small part in this TV docudrama from 2002. It showed only BBC reporter asking why the military attacked unarmed civilians. However, Grengrass does not touch the role of the Sunday Times in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday because the movie ends shortly after the killings of civilian protesters. The 250 interviews conducted by Peter Pringle and Philip Jacobson for The Sunday Times Insight File of Bloody Sunday was pivotal material to “the longest-running inquiry in British history”.   (Times Newspapers Limited. 2010, June 13)

However, the key issue and the right of peaceful protest are recognized in the Bloody Sunday movie.  The importance of civil rights and the free expression of the opinion is the cornerstone of every democracy. In the light of news from Libya and the protesters that are killed it is important to underline that every government should investigate the killing of civilians. What is the difference between United Kingdom and Libya? British government undertook the investigation and finally apologized for the Bloody Sunday. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi asked from NATO and EU to investigate how the people in Libya were killed, accusing for conspiracy towards Libya. In a democracy, the society is prepared to confront itself with every misuse that might occur against the civilians and their right of protest. The negligent behavior after the Bloody Sunday event in 1972 exactly lead Northern Ireland in the violence driven by mixture of politics and terror. While we follow the news from Libya, we should ask: how many civilians will suffer in the anti and pro – Gaddafi protest? 

Work cited:

1.Chairman, D., Beams, N., Dias, W., Grey, B., Hyland, J., Jones, K., & Marsden, C. (2010, June 18). Britain: Saville Inquiry continues cover-up of Bloody Sunday massacre. In World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved March 6, 2011, from http://www1.wsws.org/articles/2010/jun2010/bloo-j18.shtml

2. Bloody Sunday leader finds faith in film (2002, January 30). In BBC News Online. Retrieved March 6, 2011, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/1791090.stm

3. Bloody Sunday: The only winners were the IRA (2010, June 12). In The Telegraph. Retrieved March 6, 2011, from   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/northernireland/7823559/Bloody-Sunday-The-only-winners-were-the-IRA.html

4. Report of Bloody Sunday Inquiry. (2010, June 15). In The Bloody Sunday Inquiry. Retrieved March 6, 2011, from http://report.bloody-sunday-inquiry.org/volume08/chapter147/

5. PM: Statement on Saville Inquiry. (2010, June 15).  In www.Number10.gov.uk. Retrieved March 6, 2011, from http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/statements-and-articles/2010/06/pm-statement-on-saville-inquiry-51888

6.  Times Newspapers Limited. (2010, June 13). Return to Bloody Sunday. In The Sunday Times. Retrieved March 8, 2011, from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7148889.ece

7. Saville inquiry dismissed evidence of Ivan Cooper. (2010, June 20). In SundayTribune. Retrieved March 6, 2011, from http://www.tribune.ie/article/2010/jun/20/saville-inquiry-dismissed-evidence-of-ivan-cooper/