Bloody Friday (1972)


Bloody Friday (1972)

Infobox terrorist attack
title=Bloody Friday
location= Belfast city centre,
Northern Ireland
target=Businesses in Belfast city centre
date=21 July 1972
type=Multiple car bombs
fatalities=9
injuries=130
perps=Provisional Irish Republican Army

Bloody Friday is the name given to the bombings by the Provisional Irish Republican Army's (IRA) Belfast Brigade in and around Belfast, Northern Ireland on 21 July, 1972, which killed nine people including two soldiers, and injured 130 civilians. [http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/bfriday/nio/nio72.htm CAIN] ]

The bombings were part of a concerted bombing campaign carried out by the IRA against economic, military and political targets in Northern Ireland.cite book | last = Moloney | first = Ed | authorlink = Ed Moloney | title = A Secret History of the IRA | publisher = Penguin Books | date = 2002 | pages = p. 100 | doi = | isbn = 0-141-01041-X] The group carried out a total of 1,300 bombings in 1972. Following the failure of secret talks in London between the British government and the IRA in 1972, Gerry Adams allegedly played a central role in planning the Bloody Friday bomb blitz. [cite book | last=Lalor | first=Brian (ed) | year=2003 |title=The Encyclopaedia of Ireland | publisher=Gill & Macmillan | location=Dublin, Ireland | isbn=0-7171-3000-2 | pages=p 7]

Overview

A total of 22 bombs were planted and, in the resulting explosions, nine people were killed and a further 130 civilians injured. Warnings were given by the IRA via the local media to the security forces before the bombs exploded with 30 minutes' warning given for the first bombing and around 70 minutes' warning for the last bomb. The IRA leader, Sean MacStiofain, claimed that the warnings for the two bombs which claimed lives were deliberately disregarded by the British for strategic policy reasons. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/2132219.stm Bloody Friday: What happened] ] Along with some [ [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/ira/conflict/violence.html The IRA Campaign of Violence] PBS.org] accurate warnings which were given by the IRA, two more hoax warnings were called in, which impeded the evacuation of the area. As a result, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and British Army only effectively cleared a relatively small number of areas before the bombs went off. In addition, because of the large number of bombs in the confined area of Belfast city centre, people evacuated from the site of one bomb were accidentally moved into the vicinity of other bombs.

Thirty years after the killings the IRA issued a statement of apology. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/2132188.stm Q&A: The IRA's apology] ]

equence of events - 21 July 1972

The accounts of the events that appeared in the first editions of local and national newspapers were, naturally enough, somewhat confused about the details of the events of the day. The timetable compiled by CAIN below is approximate and given in BST/IST (GMT+1). The details are based on a number of secondary reports and accounts.

2:10 p.m. Smithfield Bus Station
The first bomb detonates. The bomb had been placed in a car in an enclosed yard at the Smithfield Bus Station. Extensive damage was done to the surrounding area.

2:16 p.m. (Brookvale Hotel, Brookvale Avenue, north Belfast)
A bomb (estimated at 50 pounds (23 kg) of explosive) exploded at the Brookvale Hotel, in Brookvale Avenue, north Belfast. The bomb was contained in a suitcase and was planted by three men armed with sub-machine guns. The area had been cleared and no injuries occurred.

2:23 p.m. (LMS Railway Station, York Road)
A suitcase bomb left on the platform explodes, doing extensive damage to the interior of the Railway Station, and blowing the roof off of the Station.

2:45 p.m. (Crumlin Road, Belfast)
Two bombs (both estimated at 50 pounds (23 kg) of explosive) exploded at the Star Garage on the Crumlin Road. There were no serious injuries in the explosions.2:48 p.m. (Oxford Street Bus Depot, Oxford Street, Belfast)
A car bomb exploded outside the Ulsterbus depot in Oxford Street. This explosion resulted in the greatest loss of life and the greatest number of casualties, of any of the bombs on the day. The area was being cleared but was still crowded when the bomb, in a Volkswagen estate car, exploded. Two British soldiers, Stephen Cooper (19) and Philip Price (27) were close to the car bomb and died instantly. Also killed in the blast were: William Crothers (15), William Irvine (18); Thomas Killops (39) and John Gibson (45). All four were Protestant civilians who worked for the Ulsterbus company.

2:50 p.m. (Ulster Bank, Limestone Road, north Belfast)
The car bomb (estimated at 50 pounds (23 kg) of explosive) exploded outside the branch of the Ulster Bank on the Limestone Road, north Belfast. The site of this bomb was a few hundred yards from the first bomb. This area had not been cleared. There were several injuries in this blast.

2:52 p.m. (Botanic Railway Station, Botanic Avenue, Belfast)
A car bomb (estimated at 50 pounds (23 kg) of explosive) exploded outside the railway station in Botanic Avenue. There was considerable damage to property but no serious injuries.

2:55 p.m. (Queen Elizabeth Bridge, Belfast)
A car bomb (estimated at 160 pounds (73 kg) of explosive) exploded without warning on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. There were no serious injuries in this explosion. There was some damage to the structure of the bridge.

2:57 p.m. (Liverpool Bar, Donegall Quay, Belfast)
A bomb (estimated at 50 pounds (23 kg) of explosive) exploded in the Liverpool Bar in Donegall Quay.

2.57 p.m. (Ormeau Avenue, Belfast)
A car bomb (estimated at 50 pounds (23 kg) of explosive) exploded in Ormeau Avenue. Those in the area did not receive a warning. However, there were no serious injuries.

3:02 p.m. (Agnes Street, Belfast)
A car bomb (estimated at 30 pounds (14 kg) of explosive) exploded outside a group of Protestant houses in Agnes Street. Those in the area did not receive a warning but there were no serious injuries.

3:02 p.m. (Bellevue, north Belfast)
A bomb (estimated at 30 pounds (14 kg) of explosive) exploded on the bridge over the M2 motorway at Bellevue in north Belfast. There were no serious injuries in this explosion.

3:12 p.m. (Eastwood's Garage, Donegall Road, Belfast)
A car bomb (estimated at 150 pounds (68 kg) of explosive) destroyed Eastwood's Garage on Donegall Road. There were no serious injuries in the explosion.

3:15 p.m. (Stewartstown Road, Belfast)
A bomb, thought to have been abandoned on the Stewartstown Road, exploded but caused no serious injuries.

3:15 p.m. (Cavehill Road, north Belfast)
A car bomb (estimated at 50 pounds (23 kg) of explosive) exploded outside a row of single storey shops near the top of the Cavehill Road, north Belfast. Those caught in the blast had no warning of the bomb. The shops were in a religiously-mixed residential area. Two women and a man died in this blast. Mrs Margaret O'Hare (37), a Catholic mother of seven children, died in her car. Her 11-year-old daughter was with her in her car and was badly injured. Miss Brigid Murray (65), a Catholic, was also killed. Stephen Parker (14), a Protestant teenager, also died in the explosion. In addition there were a number of serious injuries.

3:25 p.m. (Railway Line, near Lisburn Road, Belfast)
A bomb exploded on the railway line near the Lisburn Road, but caused no casualties.

3:30 p.m. ('Nutts Corner', west of Belfast)
A landmine was detonated on the road to Nutts Corner, west of Belfast, just as a bus full of schoolchildren was passing. The driver saw the device and swerved, avoiding the worst of the blast. It was thought that the bus may have been mistaken for a British army vehicle. There were no serious injuries in the explosion.

3:30 p.m. (Northern Ireland Carriers Depot, Grosvenor Road, Belfast)
A bomb (estimated at 50 pounds (23 kg) of explosive) exploded at the Northern Ireland Carriers depot on the Grosvenor Road. There were no serious injuries in the explosion.

3:30 p.m. (Sydenham, east Belfast)
A bomb on the Sydenham flyover was defused by the British Army.

Reactions and consequences

Speaking in the Commons on 24th July, Home Secretary of the time William Whitelaw called the bombings "appallingly bloodthirsty". He also drew attention to the Catholic victims, and mentioned the revulsion in the Republic of Ireland as elsewhere. Leader of the Opposition Harold Wilson described the events as "a shocking crime against an already innocent population". The "Irish Times" wrote "The chief injury is not to the British Army, to the Establishment or to big business but to the plain people of Belfast and Ireland. Anyone who supports violence from any side after yesterday's events is sick with the same affliction as those who did the deed." Television images of fire-fighters shovelling body parts into plastic bags at the Oxford Street bus station were the most shocking of the day. [ [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmdfence/57/3070205.htm Select Committee on Defence, 2 July 2003] ] [ [http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/cry-for-reconciliation--which-should-be-welcomed--by-all-299816.html "Irish Independent"] ]

479 people died in the Troubles in 1972, more than in any other year of the conflict. Ten days after the bombings the British Army launched Operation Motorman, to retake IRA controlled republican areas in Belfast and Derry. There were several revenge attacks by loyalists. Bloody Friday itself was seen by some as a reprisal attack for Bloody Sunday in Derry six months earlier. [ [http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761571415_8/Northern_Ireland.html Encarta] ]

External links

*http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/2132219.stm
*http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/2132188.stm
*http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/bfriday/dead.htm
*http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/bfriday/nio/nio72.htm

References


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