NI 100: The truce that followed Belfast's Bloody Sunday

2 months ago 17

By Eimear Flanagan
BBC News NI

image copyrightAFP via Getty Images

image captionDays aft the truce, Irish radical held vigils successful Downing St, praying for the a peaceful result to talks

As the timepiece struck noon connected Monday, 11 July 1921, a truce came into unit which efficaciously ended the Irish War of Independence.

The struggle spanned two-and-a-half years and outgo much than 2,000 lives.

The ceasefire was agreed 3 days earlier betwixt the British authorities and Irish enactment leaders - leaders who would soon signifier their ain authorities connected the confederate broadside of the caller border.

In Belfast, the last hours starring up to the truce were marred by bloodshed.

A full of 22 radical mislaid their lives, including children, pensioners and galore different guiltless bystanders. A further 80 radical were earnestly injured and astir 1,000 were near homeless.

The deaths came during an "intense and highly convulsive bout of sectarian rioting which began astatine midnight connected Sunday 10 July and did not abate until the day of Monday 11 July," according to historiographer Pádraig Ó Ruairc.

In his book, Truce: Murder, Myth and the Last Days of the Irish War of Independence, Mr Ó Ruairc lists respective reasons for the upsurge successful violence, but the timing of the truce was a important factor.

image copyrightPádraig Ó Ruairc

image captionA assemblage extracurricular Dublin's Mansion House connected 8 July 1921, waiting for confirmation of the forthcoming truce

The truce coincided with the eve of the yearly Twelfth commemorations - the tallness of the Protestant marching season.

Belfast often saw sectarian attacks emergence astatine this clip of year, but tensions were peculiarly precocious successful the summertime of 1921 arsenic the caller Irish borderline was not agelong successful place.

'Betrayal'

Just 3 weeks earlier, unionists had celebrated the opening of Belfast's parliament by King George V - seen arsenic the royal seal of support for the newly-created Northern Ireland.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionVast numbers of unionists cheered King George V and Queen Mary successful Belfast connected 22 June 1921

So the thought that British forces had done a woody with the IRA caused choler and anxiousness wrong unionism.

"This subject ceasefire was arranged with a presumption to opening ceremonial governmental discussions with the enactment rebels," Mr Ó Ruairc explains.

"Loyalists would person been acrophobic that they were astir to beryllium betrayed - that if the British authorities was talking to the Sinn Féiners, they were going to beryllium sold into an autarkic Irish republic."

Against this tense governmental backdrop, 1 incidental sparked a rhythm of unit which outgo 22 lives.

Shortly earlier midnight connected 9 July, an IRA pack opened occurrence connected a Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) patrol successful Raglan Street, westbound Belfast.

Constable Thomas Conlon was changeable dormant and 2 different RIC men were earnestly wounded.

image copyrightPádraig Ó Ruairc

image captionRIC Constable Thomas Conlon was a Catholic from County Roscommon

The ambush was followed by hours of tit-for-tat weapon attacks betwixt police, the IRA and snipers from some loyalist and nationalist areas.

The victims were from assorted property groups and backgrounds and astir were posing nary menace erstwhile they were targeted.

The dormant included a 12-year-old Protestant, William Baxter, changeable dormant arsenic helium walked to Sunday school, and a 13-year-old Catholic Mary McGowan - a partially-sighted schoolgirl changeable portion crossing a roadworthy with her mother.

Several Catholic ex-soldiers were besides among the victims, including aged widower Bernard Monaghan who was changeable dormant connected a doorstep successful Abyssinia Street.

The erstwhile British serviceman was a begetter of 13, but had already mislaid his woman and astatine slightest 8 of their children.

image copyrightMonaghan household photo

image captionBernard Monaghan, a Catholic begetter of 13, had served successful the British Army successful his younger days

"He was lasting astatine the doorway looking retired - arsenic you bash erstwhile there's thing going on," his great-grandson Robert Monaghan told BBC News NI.

"Snipers were precise communal successful those days, taking purpose astatine radical successful the streets."

Mr Monaghan suspects a sectarian motive for the pensioner's killing, arsenic gunmen knew "people surviving successful definite areas were apt to beryllium from a definite religion".

However, similar galore families who lived done this turbulent era, Bernard's loved ones were reluctant to sermon his decease with younger relatives.

"I've a feeling that if I'd asked my parents astir him, they would've told maine to caput my ain business," says Mr Monaghan.

But immoderate eyewitnesses did talk astir the events of that day, including Belfast IRA person Roger McCorley.

"Sunday, 10 July was known successful Belfast arsenic Bloody Sunday," McCorley told the Irish Bureau of Military History.

"There was dense warring each implicit the metropolis - adjacent the metropolis centre itself was swept by firearm and instrumentality weapon fire.

"Every limb which we had successful our possession was successful enactment that day."

Central relation

The bureau was acceptable up by the Irish authorities successful 1947 to grounds idiosyncratic testimonies from ageing republicans who fought against British forces from 1913 to 1921.

McCorley's grounds outlines his ain cardinal relation successful Belfast's Bloody Sunday, arsenic helium led the pack which killed Constable Conlon successful the Raglan Street ambush.

McCorley claimed the RIC patrol was successful information a "reprisal gang" and the IRA was defending Catholic residents from constabulary attacks.

But according to Mr Ó Ruairc, the IRA cognition was "an ain goal" due to the fact that Constable Conlon, a County Roscommon Catholic, was a enactment sympathiser who antecedently warned the IRA of planned RIC raids.

"Often, the loyalist assemblage would person been suspicious of confederate Irish Catholics who were successful the Royal Irish Constabulary and successful the lawsuit of Constable Conlon it was justified," the historiographer says.

More than 80% of RIC members were Catholic successful 1921 and galore unionists distrusted the force.

image copyrightWalshe/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

image captionAn RIC inspection successful May 1921, conscionable implicit a twelvemonth earlier the unit was disbanded

In contrast, the recently-formed Ulster Special Constabulary was comprised astir exclusively of men from Protestant and unionist backgrounds.

Many recruits were ex-members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), an equipped militia formed successful 1913 to defy UK Home Rule legislation.

While unionists felt protected by the Ulster Special Constabulary, oregon "Specials" arsenic they were nicknamed, nationalists felt threatened by the caller constabulary force, not without bully reason.

The Specials earned a estimation for convulsive indiscipline - uniformed officers regularly attacked Catholic neighbourhoods successful revenge for erstwhile IRA attacks.

Reprisals by constabulary were "justifiable and close successful the eyes of God and man," according to the diary of Frederick Crawford, the Specials' South Belfast District Commandant successful 1921.

image copyrightProni (INF/7/A/3/63)

image captionFrederick Crawford was a erstwhile worker and UVF subordinate who aboriginal joined NI's caller constabulary force

But reprisals lone led to much attacks, and sporadic killings continued successful Belfast agelong aft the War of Independence truce took effect successful remainder of the island.

"One of the IRA leaders successful Belfast said: 'It wasn't a truce we had successful Belfast, but a pause'," says Mr Ó Ruairc.

"It was much of a theoretical truce successful Belfast. It ne'er took afloat effect and you inactive had occasional weapon battles betwixt the IRA and the British forces, which you didn't person successful the south."

Although the truce calmed the metropolis temporarily - lone 1 of the 22 deaths happened aft the noon ceasefire - the uneasy bid did not past long.

Snipers and rioters continued to assertion lives connected some sides, and portion governmental negotiations were getting underway successful London, the IRA acceptable up caller grooming camps successful Northern Ireland.

image copyrightTopical Press Agency/Getty Images

image captionThe London bid talks led to the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty successful December 1921

In fact, the ceasefire boosted IRA recruitment, according to Thomas Fitzpatrick, an IRA commandant successful County Antrim successful 1921.

"At the clip of the truce, the spot of the Antrim brigade was astir 140 oregon 150 progressive volunteers," Fitzpatrick told the Irish Bureau of Military History.

"Like each different brigade, the spot went up with a bound instantly the truce came. The truce was not observed by either broadside successful the north."

But successful 1922, the IRA's attraction shifted southbound to the caller Irish Free State, which was rapidly descending into a bitter civilian war.

The truce paved the mode to the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, which caused a divided successful the enactment movement, with anti-treaty republicans arguing the woody cemented Irish partition.

According to the Irish Defence Forces, up to 4,000 radical died successful the Civil War, making it an adjacent much deadly struggle than the 1 the pact was designed to end.

The BBC News NI website has a dedicated conception marking the centenary of Northern Ireland with peculiar reports connected the large figures of the partition epoch and the events that shaped modern Ireland.

You tin besides research however Northern Ireland was created 100 years agone by listening to the Year '21 podcast bid connected BBC Sounds.

Above representation of Frederick Crawford (INF/7/A/3/63) was reproduced with the benignant support of the Deputy Keeper of the Records, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

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