Bloody Sunday is still a day that is felt in Northern Ireland. For Catholics, nationalists, it is a very sensitive day, because it is a memory of years of oppression. It is a difficult day for Protestants, because the recognition of suffering is still very sensitive at that time. Meanwhile, the division no longer lies so much in the different religions, but in politics.
To understand the situation, the historical context is important. Northern Ireland was created in 1921. It was part of the United Kingdom, but had been separated due to the majority of Protestants there. Until 1972, the Protestants formed their own government and the country was a kind of one-party state, entirely centered on the Protestant people. However, about a third of Northern Ireland’s population was Catholic, “so Catholics were structurally disadvantaged and discriminated against,” explains Augusteijn.
From the 1960s onwards, politics became increasingly radical, as Catholics became increasingly rebellious. On Bloody Sunday, January 30, 1972, Catholics protested against the introduction of internment by the British Army. During this protest, the British Army fired on unarmed Catholics. The government investigated the incident and concluded that it had acted correctly. The aftermath of the pain and sadness of these events is still being felt in Northern Ireland today, 50 years later.
Northern Ireland today
Until the end of the last century, neighborhoods were shielded with meter-high walls and children were raised to recognize ‘the other side’ as bad people. There is development, but people cannot easily let go of the past. The Brexit process made this memory even more painful and has reignited tension. Various political parties are fighting for dominance to secure their vision for Northern Ireland and the prevailing tension has underpinned Northern Ireland’s checkered past.
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