…although, as far as I can tell, most people in northern Ireland call it Derry. In case I haven’t been clear: the Republic of Ireland won its independence from Great Britain in 1922. Part of the agreement was that the northern counties, aka Ulster, would remain connected with Britain… this was very controversial and caused a brief civil war in the south. There was a large Protestant British/ Scottish population in Ulster, their ancestors had moved here in the 1600. They wanted to stay connected with Britain. The majority was national Irish, tending to be Catholic… they faced a lot of discrimination. This was the origin of the very violent times the Irish call the Troubles. This is a quick and simple but basic analysis.
Derry was one of the big centers of the Troubles. Bloody Sunday was a peaceful civil rights demonstration, the IRA had agreed to not participate so it would be seen as peaceful. Still, the British troops fired indiscriminately into the crowd after some very small scale and minor disturbances, killing a number of people. This was around 1969, it contributed to an already incredibly tense situation. The IRA got a lot of volunteers after that. The Nationalist/Catholic community of Bogside was one of the centers of resistance.
Derry was devastated during the Troubles. The British and their allies were very brutal. Since I have a strong dose of Irish Catholic blood in my mostly German heritage, I side mostly with the Nationalists/ civil rights movement…. still, the IRA and others were also very brutal, their strategies targeted innocent people. I cannot support this. We talked with a lot of people who say the situation has been much better since the Peace agreements of the 1990s.
The situation stays complex and in flux. As I stated in earlier posts, people who we talked with want to go past the Troubles and deal with other issues. We talked with one fellow in Derry who is working on a project that is similar to the Truth and Reconciliation project in South Africa. He and others are promoting peace between the Catholic and Protestant communities. The artists who created the murals I will share shortly support civil rights, but also strongly promote peace between the communities. I do think these efforts will succeed.
Oh yes… adding to the complexity: we talked with a couple people who said that while the extreme Unionists want to stay connected with Britain, the government does not feel this is advantageous to them. Meantime, extreme nationalists want to connect with the Republic, but the government in the South seems to feel it has its own problems. Most people seem to want to work things out. Where will this go? You tell me!
Enough blather, photos now. I need a break from blogging, will share Scotland posts in a week or so
The first shot shows the streets of Derry… a very picturesque walking town! It was devastated during the Troubles, but has been largely rebuilt. The second shot is of the Bogside, the Catholic working class community that has historically been separated during from the rest of the town by a wall. We talked with one man whose brother was killed on Bloody Sunday, even he thinks things have gotten better since the peace settlement. The third shot is a Bogside mural that shows a civil rights demonstration and the brutal response. Again, we talked with one of the artists who said their focus is on peace and reconciliation along with human rights. There are many other very intense murals in the Bogside, maybe I will share them another time.