Northern Ireland news

Sir Paul McCartney wrote protest song Give Ireland Back To The Irish after watching events of Bloody Sunday unfold

Bishop Daly helps clear a path for a man badly injured during Bloody Sunday which marks its 50th anniversary on January 30.

SIR PAUL McCartney wrote his famous 1970s protest song Give Ireland Back To The Irish after seeing footage of Bloody Sunday.

The former Beatle was in the US at the time when on January 30, 1972, British Paratroopers opened fire at a civil rights march in Derry killing 14 people dead.

The 79-year-old musician said it was "deeply troubling" to see footage of a perfectly peaceful demonstration go wrong.

The song, which was banned by the BBC, went on to be a number one in the Republic.

Sunday Life reported the details from his new book, The Lyrics, written in collaboration with acclaimed Northern Ireland poet Paul Muldoon.

In it he explains: "It looked as if our Army boys had acted indiscriminately and fired on innocent people.

“There was immediately a cover-up, claiming that the protesters weren’t innocent but had rifles. But it seemed to me a reasonable demonstration, the kind that had been happening in Black communities throughout recent history.

“So, I was shocked by the idea that our soldiers had perpetrated this horror because up till that point, I had thought our boys were all great.

“Then I imagined Irish soldiers on the streets of Liverpool when I was growing up, telling me I couldn’t go here or I couldn’t go there," Sunday Life reported.

The 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday on Sunday is set to be marked in Derry with a series of events this week with local stars Adrian Dunbar, Bronagh Gallagher, The Undertones and Phil Coulter set to take part.

In the book, he revealed record bosses said they could not put out the record due to the "delicate" situation in north and asked him to reconsider.

“So, I gave it a couple of days and rang back and said I had to put it out. He said the record would be banned by the BBC, and no good would come of it for me. I told him I didn’t care.

“This was a big enough event in my history — in my country’s history — for me to take some kind of a stand. So we put it out, and Sir Joe was right. It was banned. But it was also number one in Ireland and in Spain, though not in the US.”

He also revealed that acclaimed musician Henry McCullough, who played with Wings, “got a bit of flak because he was a Northern Ireland boy”.

“Henry was Protestant, so some people were a bit upset by his involvement in this song.

“Then there were others who perceived the song as a rallying cry for the IRA. It certainly wasn’t written to be one.

“For better or worse, this was a moment where I had a sense that art could, and should, respond to a situation.

“Unfortunately, it’s a situation that still hasn’t quite been resolved — and perhaps never will.”

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