Tuesday, January 30, 2007

January 30

Today is the anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday" massacre in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1972. During a routine protest against British rule, soldiers from the British Parachute
Regimen shot 26 unarmed demonstrators in the Bogside area of Derry, which had been a nationalist stronghold for two years. When British commanders received erroneous word that Irish Republican Army snipers were among the crowd, live rounds replaced rubber bullets and thirteen people died; a fourteenth died several months later from the wounds he received that day. Most of the dead and injured were shot as they fled the paratroopers, and none were armed. General Sir Robert Ford, commander of land forces in Northern Ireland, claimed after the melee that his troops had fired only three shots.

According to the Coroner’s report, issued 20 months after the attack,
[T]he Army ran amok that day and shot without thinking what they were doing. They were shooting innocent people. These people may have been taking part in a march that was banned but that does not justify the troops coming in and firing live rounds indiscriminately. I would say without hesitation that it was sheer, unadulterated murder.

The Widgery Commission Report, which whitewashed the events of 30 January 1972, found that the army's conduct had merely "bordered on the reckless."


Oliver Cromwell, military commander of the Protestant armies during the English Civil War and Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England from 1653-1658, was executed at Tyburn gallows on this date in 1661. A decade before, following English tradition, Cromwell himself had laid waste to northeastern Ireland. After being hanged, Cromwell was decapitated; while his head was mounted on a post and displayed outside Westminster Abbey, his body was reportedly dumped into a common pit. The head remained on display until 1685. It was not buried, however, until 1960.
Oddly enough, Cromwell had already been dead for two years, having expired from malaria and a kidney infection in September 1658. Nearly a decade before his own death, Cromwell had successfully urged Parliament to execute Charles I for treason, an execution that was carried out in public on 30 January 1649. Cromwell famously described the beheading of Charles I as a “cruel necessity.” When the royalists recaptured power in 1660, Cromwell was convicted posthumously of the same crime for which Charles had been dispossessed of his own head. John Bradshaw, who had presided over the trial of the dead king, was drawn and quartered along with Cromwell; Parliamentary generals Henry Ireton and Thomas Pride were handled in more or less the same fashion.

All three happened to be dead as well.

"Bloody Sunday" photo credit

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