1972 and the Ulster Troubles
Alan F. Parkinson
1972 proved to be by far the bloodiest and most eventful year of the Northern Ireland conflict. The January shootings in Derry precipitated the downfall of the Stormont administration in March. British military reinforcements struggled to cope with the ferocity of the IRA’s escalating campaign, the worst manifestations of which were no-warning attacks such as those in Claudy and Belfast on ‘Bloody Friday’. Yet 1972, regarded by republicans as their ‘Year of Victory’, arguably marked both the high point of their campaign and the beginning of its demise. Loyalist paramilitarism was rampant during the year, as both the UVF and UDA were responsible for an increasing number of sectarian attacks and stand-offs with the British Army.
1972 also witnessed a further haemorrhaging of unionism, the emergence of the potentially sinister Vanguard movement and the substitution of Westminster grandees for locally-elected politicians when it came to the governance of the region. Amidst such frenetic political and military activity what impact did unfolding events have upon the lives of ordinary people? Combining an analysis of the major events of the year with the oral testimony of a wide range of respondents, this book tells the story of the most extraordinary year of the modern Northern conflict, as well as analysing its impact upon subsequent events.
Alan Parkinson is senior lecturer in history and education at London South Bank University.