Bloody Sunday – History Analysis Essay

1. 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”?

Explain your answer using sources A – D and your own Knowledge

Source A portrays the Irish as barbaric monsters and is highly bias towards the English. This is fairly obvious as the illustrator of this particular cartoon is in fact English but never the less the propaganda from England at that time made the Irish out to be mere Frankenstein’s monsters this was most probably done to provide a reason for such unnecessary blood shed on innocent people. It is interesting how the Irishman is so big and powerful in this source where as in real life the English troops really held all the cards they called all the shots. It is also fascinating how the Irish man is dressed in rags and has a menacing look and the English man is elegantly dressed and seems to be warning the monster off. Other than the symbolism of Frankenstein’s monster there is also the issue of the rise of the Fenians a beginning of terrorism due to home rule issues under glad stone and the Phoenix park murders.

Source B also looks at the events of Bloody Sunday 30th of January 1972 with an English perspective which makes sense as it was an English cartoon illustrated in 1982. The picture is ridiculing the Irish implying savagery to them. “The Ultimate in Psychopathic Horror” this meaning that they are mad bloodthirsty killers it also has in fine print “Featuring the IRA, INLA, UDF, UDA etc etc” this too is mocking the Irish by listing all there terrorist organisations it makes it sound as if the Irish are murderers.

Source C is a cartoon illustrated in 1780 by an Irishman it is extremely bias towards the Irish. There are many English soldiers surrounding one Irish man who is being hanged. It purposely makes the English out to be assassins, as it shows no reason for the hanging other than the man is Irish. Also garrotting is a very brutal way of murdering someone so that also may be significant.

Source D is also from the same time period around 1780. It too deliberately shows the English as exterminators about to kill what seems an innocent Irish housewife with some sort of bayonet. There is an issue in both illustrations about the amount of English there are in comparison with the number of Irish in the picture this is meant to pity them as they singled out with no way of escape, this is symbolic to the Irish seeking emancipation.

It would be hard to draw the truth of what may have happened on that day through these pictures simply because both sides are completely bias towards themselves both acting victimised.

2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Source E as an interpretation of what happened on “Bloody Sunday”?

Explain your answer using Source E and your own knowledge.

The strengths of this source are that it is fairly well structured there are no great bias comments made, for example as this was published in England it would be expected that they mention the Irish hooligans, and not say anything about the British Army shooting dead thirteen unarmed civilians. It is also good in that it highlights the key areas of what happened that day and puts across an account of the day accurately. All of the most important and relevant events of that day were mentioned and also the effects were stated e.g. the thirteen unarmed civilians shot dead by British army.

The weaknesses of this source are clear there is not enough content to successfully put across the reasons, the history, the rivalry and the sheer hatred between the Protestants and the Catholics. Although there are no bias comments the fact that the writer wrote more about how the angry Irish hooligans were being violent towards the English troops, than on the issue of thirteen defenceless unarmed Irish people who were shot dead, shows a slightly bias opinion “Pro English.”

3. Sources F and G disagree about who started the shooting.

Does this mean that these sources are of no use as evidence about Bloody Sunday?

Explain your answer using Source F and G and your own knowledge.

The fact that the sources do not agree with each other does not at all mean that they are not useful it is just what happened from another person’s perspective. The statement from the commander is most definitely a bias report because he would not want it to seem that his Battalion opened fire for no reason whatsoever. The commander claimed that the demonstrators started the shooting and the Army was only protecting themselves.

There is no way of telling whether Father Bradley’s account is true either because he is a Catholic so he is bound to take his parishioners side. The priest argued that the demonstration was completely non violent and he saw no intimidating behaviour from the Catholics and there was absolutely no reason or explanation for the British army’s actions that day. It is hard to say that one of the sources is right and the other completely wrong although they both contrast different opinions of what happened that day. If there was a completely neutral eyewitness account I am sure that it would be more useful than both of these sources.

4. Source H is an eyewitness account, which was written by a newspaper reporter.

Does this make it reliable as evidence about “Bloody Sunday”?

Explain your answer using Source H and your own knowledge.

The fact that this article was written by a reporter is not the factor, which determines its credibility. What makes this source more credible in my opinion is that an English journalist for the Guardian Newspaper wrote the report and yet he is not pro the British army’s actions. You would expect the report to be totally bias supporting the army and their conduct, then the report would be just another account that shows obvious favouritism. Instead the English journalist seems to be backing up what the priest said in Source G. The only reason that this source is more credible than others is that it is being completely unbiased if anything the reporter is supporting the opposition.

So this source is a vital link to building a picture of the events, which took place on Bloody Sunday, this source is most definitely one of the more reliable sources.

5. Source J and K give different interpretations of the actions of the British Army on “Bloody Sunday”.

Why do you think these interpretations differ?

Explain your answers using Sources J and K and your own Knowledge.

These interpretations of what happened differ because of favouritism it is clear that an Englishman appointed by the government to find out what actually happened that day is not going to go out of his way to make the Soldiers look guilty of massacring a dozen people for no reason.

Source K is the city coroner’s opinion on what happened, he thinks that it was unjustifiable firing live rounds indiscriminately at people whose only crime was a demonstration that is not an appalling crime deserving of unadulterated murder.

Both sources are bias and relatively unreliable but still help to build a picture of what may have been going on that day.

Study all the sources.

From these sources, is it possible to make an accurate judgement about what actually happened on “Bloody Sunday”?

Explain your answer using all the sources and your own knowledge.

I think that it is possible to build up an accurate picture about what actually happened on 30th of January 1972 from all the sources.

Sources A – D are all based upon subjective opinions for example ‘A’ makes the Irish out to be monsters and ‘D’ portrays the English as masochists but both are portrayed this way only because the sources are unreliable due to biasness. Source E is good as it is fairly neutral, it is from a reliable source and it highlights the key issues and points of the events on Bloody Sunday. Source F and G are useful but I would not cast judgment of what happened over either of them, simply because it is obvious that both are bias opinions. Source F are comments made by the commander of the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, and this is completely bias because he sates that it was an act of self defence and he condones all actions of that day.

Source G are comments made by Father Bradley, a Catholic priest, this source is also very one sided as the priest is a Catholic and he is talking about how the attack was completely unprovoked and how the British armies violence was disgusting. Source H is very useful as it is from an English newspaper reporter’s point of view who opposes the actions of the army he says that the shooting was unnecessary as there was no violence or threat towards the army. Source I and J are of no particular help as they do not identify any further evidence to what may have happened that day. Source K is interesting although bias as it is the view of the Londonderry City Coroner about the 13 deaths his feelings were that the actions of the army were of “sheer unadulterated murder,” as there is no justification for shooting innocent people because of a parade that was banned.

In conclusion I think it is possible to draw an accurate judgement from these sources to what happened on Bloody Sunday, in my opinion the Irish were not completely innocent but there was truly no need to kill more than a dozen innocent civilians because of a parade that was banned.


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