(Photo by Christine Spengler/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)
This week is the fiftieth anniversary of riots in Londonderry that led to the deployment of troops in Northern Ireland. To mark the occasion, the BBC broadcast reports and discussions that betrayed just a hint of nostalgia for violence that some people say sparked the Troubles.
The “Battle of the Bogside” began when nationalist protesters threw stones at police and marchers, as the Apprentice Boys of Derry held its annual parade to celebrate the relief of the city in 1689 from a siege by Jacobite forces. Rioting continued for several days and spread to Belfast, where seven people died in fierce fighting, before the army was sent in to restore order on the 14th August 1969.
This “temporary” deployment in support of the RUC eventually lasted until 2007, as troops became targets of a murderous IRA campaign to destroy British sovereignty in Northern Ireland. Ironically, they were welcomed initially in nationalist communities, where Ulster’s police service was perceived as a partial force that favoured loyalists whenever sectarian trouble broke out.