David Granville reviews A Matter of Minutes; the enduring legacy of Bloody Sunday by Joanne O’Brien, Wolfhound Press, £12.99 pbk and Eyewitness Bloody Sunday: the truth (revised edition), Don Mullan, Merlin Press, £9.99 pbk
IF FOR some reason readers were to find themselves restricted to just two books about the events of 30 January 1972, A Matter of Minutes and Eyewitness Bloody Sunday would surely be strong contenders, though for different reasons.
Joanne O’Brien’s book , which combines black and white photography and the testimonies of thirty-three people who’s lives were forever changed by the day’s events, provides a moving insight into human cost of the massacre.
Beginning life in 1987 as a purely photographic project, O’Brien’s original intention had been to produce a collection of portraits of people who had lost someone on Bloody Sunday.
By adding the personal testimonies of her subjects she adds another dimension to the human and emotional cost which continues to be paid by those who were injured, those who took part in the civil-rights march and those whose family members and friends were shot down for little more than to teach the Irish their place in relation to their colonial masters.
These are visual and verbal testimonies of lives lived in the shadow of Bloody Sunday and the dignity and humanity of O’Brien’s subjects shines through every page of this remarkably moving book.
Don Mullan’s Eyewitness Bloody Sunday is an updated version of his 1997 classic. Originally published by Wolfhound, this third edition features a new forward by Paul Greengrass, the producer on one of two excellent recent drama documentaries about Bloody Sunday. Also included is a new afterward written by Mullan, himself an eyewitness, covering developments up to December 2001.
By unearthing vital information supporting the theory that snipers on the old Derry Walls were responsible for three of the deaths and many important eyewitness accounts wilfully ignored by Widgery, Mullan’s research is rightfully credited with having made a significant contribution to the British government’s decision to hold a new inquiry.
It has also helped to put into perspective the incessant bleating by unionists and their supporters over the cost of the new inquiry under Lord Saville inquiry, now into its third year.
Yes, the cost in purely monetary terms will be enormous. Even so, it will be but a fraction of the financial and human cost of Bloody Sunday’s 30-year legacy.
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