Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Aaron B. Retish


There has been much written on the Bloody Sunday Massacre and Northern Ireland during the late-1960s to early-1970s period. Many of the works focus on the role of the IRA in the struggle against Great Britain throughout the 20th century and argue that the events of Bloody Sunday marked an intensification of violence in the conflict, but treat the event as one of many in a long struggle. Some writers choose to focus on the armed struggle between the IRA and the British. Others examine the rise and fall of leaders and policies that helped shape the struggle in Northern Ireland by concentrating on the political factions fighting for dominance in Belfast and London. There are additional works that examine why Bloody Sunday occurred by focusing on the social interactions of the different communities and groups within Derry. These pieces go beyond an IRA versus Great Britain argument to examine many different causes that led to Bloody Sunday, such as religion, economics, and education.

To understand Bloody Sunday, it is important to review not only how it occurred, but also why it occurred. Was it as simple as Protestants attacking Catholics? Was it a result of government policies recently enacted? Why did the march on January 30th end in mass killings while no other protests had? In order to answer these questions, the social climate of Derry needs to be examined to determine how the area was divided and what caused the tensions to build. While each of the reasons listed above played a role in the events that led to Bloody Sunday, it was television that linked them all together and provided the spark that ignited the movement. The growth of television in Northern Ireland in the 1960s allowed the Catholics to see coverage of the civil rights movement in the American South, of Vietnam War protests in France, and of rebellion against tyranny during the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia. Television coverage of these events and of the growing protest movement within Northern Ireland educated the people and provided them with the ability to see how others around the world were fighting back against perceived injustices. While the deep divide among the people in Northern Ireland, driven by anti-Catholic policies enacted by the Stormont Government, was the basis for the protests, it was television that pushed people into action.