Thursday, January 27, 2022

Local Responses to Bloody Sunday - Material from the Boyle Archive

 In the wake the killing of fourteen unarmed civilians by British paratrooper regiment in Derry, January 30th 1972, local and international reaction is captured in a range of material within the Kevin Boyle archive. Regional civil rights associations across Northern Ireland met and discussed responses following the shootings. This flyer, from the Newry Civil Rights Association, Co. Down (Boyle was born in Newry in 1943) advertises a march its association organised in response to the Bloody Sunday Killings. 

Flyer for march in Newry, Co. Down, 1972. 
Kevin Boyle Archive NUI Galway

The marchers are instructed that the march will take place "in total silence in honour of the Derry dead", with further instructions that "Silence and discipline will be our watch-words". The organisers make clear all is intended as a peaceful march and not seeking to initiate or provoke any response or confrontation with the British Army. 

On the 9th March 1972, the South Derry Civil Rights Association held its Annual General Meeting in Bellaghy, Derry. Coming less than six weeks after Bloody Sunday, reaction to the killings was high on the agenda. A copy of the minutes of that AGM meeting was kept by Boyle and is present within his archive. Boyle attended the meeting and addressed the audience in his capacity as a member of the NICRA Executive Committee. As is recorded in the minutes, two days' mourning was observed on 1st and 2nd of February "for the victims of the Bloody Sunday Massacre in Derry". The minutes offer a detailed account of the CRA activities in Derry. Bellaghy, as venue for the AGM was one of the new CRA branches established, along with Castledawson, Maghera, Lavery, among other locations. Updates on the impacts of the Rent and Rates strike were given at the meeting, with notices that tenants in a number of locations who refused to pay rent as part of the strike were served with eviction notices. Protests erupted outside the courthouse where the tenant's cases were heard. 

Excerpt from minutes of AGM of South Derry Civil Rights Association, 9 March 1972
Kevin Boyle Archive, NUI Galway

Also recorded in the minutes is an report on "Attitudes to Military": "We asked that security forces be ostracised by the people of south Derry. There are numerous instances of harassment, intimidation, and callousness by members of the British Army, U.D.R., and R.U.C." Further details of the firing of rubber bullets into a crowd of protesters at Swatragh, Derry, were recorded. 

The minutes conclude in stating gratitude "to all those who have helped us in our efforts to expose and eliminate injustices and who have supported our struggle for a free and just society" 

All these items and other files relating to Bloody Sunday, and the wider Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland are available in the Kevin Boyle Archive

Excerpt from minutes of AGM of South Derry Civil Rights Association, 9 March 1972
Kevin Boyle Archive, NUI Galway

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