‘Derry is a better place’


This little quote may not be the answer to everything but is part of a quite uplifting overview in the Guardian from a Derry women of the younger generation, Jeananne Craig, “a Derry journalist now living and working in London.”

Bloody Sunday was not a talking point when I, a Catholic, moved on to my predominantly Protestant grammar school. My schoolfriends growing up in the city’s largely unionist Waterside area no doubt had a different viewpoint to the one I held, but it wasn’t something we discussed – our friendships were more important to us than our politics.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

  • andnowwhat

    Fjh will love this.

  • The Raven

    This will read as dismissive and facetious. It’s not. It’s merely a reflection of times past:

    I’m constantly amazed at the difference 28 miles makes. That’s the difference of space between where Jeananne grew up and where I (mostly) grew up. My friends and I didn’t talk about Bloody Sunday, or indeed most of the rest of the Troubles either. But for very different reasons. We simply didn’t care; we weren’t directly affected.

    Part of me is glad and amazed at the relative innocence; part of me is galled at how cushioned we were from other people’s perspectives and struggles.

  • Skinner

    As am I, Raven. We went on a school trip with a Derry school and I recall being fascinated by the level of involvement they all seemed to have had. We might as well have been talking to people from the Balkans, such was the apparent difference in our experiences. Where I grew up, the terrorists were the bogeymen that you never saw and only heard about on the telly. But telly was a different place.

  • I do indeed.
    That was the whole “point” so to speak.
    To make Norn Iron a better place to live in for young women like Ms Craig or indeed my own children …was a motivating factor in 1968 for many who marched and I am happy that Ms Craig pays tribute to them.
    Alas so many journalists in a position to tell us the truth forty years ago did not take the opportunity.

    There is indeed division in Norn Iron still but only between those who think its a much better place than it was……..and those who yearn for the good old days.

  • ‘so many journalists in a position to tell us the truth forty years ago did not take the opportunity’

    Well the BBC and UTV kept their cameras away from the 5th October march in ’68. If it had not been for RTE broadcasting footage given by someone in the crowd, the events would have been kept quiet.

  • Barnshee

    what a crock of shit ask the 17000 prods bombed murdered and intimidated out of the city side– the prod grammar school forced to the east bank


  • Harry Flashman

    There is no question that Derry is a better place today by multiples of ten, it really was quite an appalling place throughout the seventies and eighties, I think the people of Derry who grew up in that era still have serious mental issues from growing up in such a dysfunctional society.

    I don’t mean trauma from actual violent acts but they, shit we, carry a lot of mental baggage from that time. We were quite simply fucked up and took refuge in drink and braggadocio which means that for many of us it comes as a shock when we see our own children behaving like normal people, doing normal things.

    We thought we were such tough kids, we thought we were hard men, we swapped war stories but we were quite simply messed up wee’ans and for a lot of us our personal lives and our ability to relate to people who grew up as normal people in a normal society has been seriously affected. Substance abuse, drink mostly we didn’t do drugs in Derry back then, gambling addiction, inability to maintain personal relationships are endemic among my generation and it will take a while for that to die off.

    God forgive the people who turned what everyone agrees was an extraordinarily pleasant city, and no I am not denying the social and political problems that existed in Derry, into a nutter’s paradise. There were problems in Derry, problems that actually were in the process of being resolved and would have been resolved even quicker had not the troglodytes that lurk in the shadows of every society been allowed a free hand.

  • Didn’t Phil Coulter say much of this, and better?

  • galloglaigh


    You’d think that it was only Protestants who suffer violence in Derry. Of course in recent months you couldn’t be further from the truth. Many loyalists from within the Fountain have been arrested for sectarian attacks on both sides of the Foyle. That’s the place where the wall was pulled down. Paul McCauley’s attempted murder being one of many. I do recall many republicans standing in support of the Fountain community, many of them elected representatives. In contrast, a week later a sectarian attack took place in the Waterside. But no demonstrations from the loyalist community against sectarian attacks! I wonder why?

    As for the so-called ‘Protestant Exodus’ depicted in Jonathan Burgees’ play, I’ve pointed out before on Slugger, that for every three Protestants who left the Cityside, two Catholics left the Waterside in the period that Burgees looks at. These tragic events took place all over the North during the troubles, and not just on the Protestant side of the ‘divide’. In fact, Protestants who took the side of the Civil Rights campaign, were often burnt, bombed, murdered, and intimidated out of their homes by their fellow Protestants – Ivan Cooper being the most prominent.