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Bloody Sunday: Error or Design?

ARAN - Access to Research at NUI Galway

Show simple item record Ó Dochartaigh, Niall 2012-06-29T10:09:48Z 2012-06-29T10:09:48Z 2010
dc.identifier.citation O' Dochartaigh, N (2010) 'Bloody Sunday: Error or Design?'. Contemporary British History, 24 :89-108. en_US
dc.description.abstract When British Paratroopers shot dead 13 people at a civil rights march in Derry on January 30, 1972 it dealt a hammer blow to British government claims of neutrality and moral authority in dealing with the escalating violence in Northern Ireland. Existing historical accounts of Bloody Sunday treat the killings as the outcome of a more-or-less unified military anxiety at increasing disorder in Derry, combined with unexpected events on the day, presenting the killings as the outcome of essentially responsive actions by the British military. In so doing they lend support to the 'cock-up' theory that represents the killings as the outcome of a series of errors of interpretation and communication. This article provides an alternative interpretation of the political and military decision-making process, challenging key elements in the analysis in the existing literature. By contrast with existing accounts, it argues that the Bloody Sunday operation was a calculated plan devised at a very high level to stage a massive and unprecedented confrontation that would disrupt and shatter an established policy of security force restraint in the city of Derry. It argues further that the operation that day emerged from an intense internal struggle to shape security policy that reflected deep divisions within the security forces, analysing the statements and evidence of key participants much more critically than existing accounts do. It argues that high-level decision-making is central to the explanation of the outcome that day and that the operation raises serious questions about the relationship between political decision-making and the operational decision-making of the army in Northern Ireland. en_US
dc.format application/pdf en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.relation.ispartof Contemporary British History en
dc.subject Northern Ireland en_US
dc.subject Bloody Sunday en_US
dc.subject Security Policy en_US
dc.subject Policing en_US
dc.title Bloody Sunday: Error or Design? en_US
dc.type Article en_US 2012-06-23T17:48:55Z
dc.identifier.doi DOI 10.1080/13619460903565531
dc.local.publishedsource en_US
dc.description.peer-reviewed peer-reviewed
dc.contributor.funder |~|
dc.internal.rssid 1332456 Niall Ó Dochartaigh, Dept. Of Pol. Science & Soc., Tower 1, Arts/Science Building, Nui Galway. 3594 Email:
dc.local.copyrightchecked No
dc.local.version ACCEPTED

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