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Today in Terrorism

Bloody Friday: IRA bombing in Northern Ireland kills 9 (July 21, 1972)

Six months after ‘Bloody Sunday’ the Irish terrorist group IRA carried out bomb attacks in Belfast that became known as ‘Bloody Friday’.

When terrorist attacks receive their own ‘name’ you know they are important.

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND – While terrorism is all too often a blight on the world stage it is rare for a given attack to gain such notoriety that it gets its own ‘name’. By this I don’t mean ‘ the August 1, 2013 attack in Lower Slobovia’ or such other generality. I mean a REAL name.

Think 9/11. Or 7/7 (the 2005 London attacks). Or 11-M (the March 11, 2004 train bombings in Madrid). These incidents were so noteworthy that they assumed their own place in our vocabulary. And rightly so.

The conflict in Northern Ireland, which might seem to have been going on forever, has had its own ‘famous’ (‘infamous’) dates. There is, of course, ‘Bloody Sunday‘: January 30, 1972 when British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a protest march against internment without trial. It was not until 2016 that Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service ruled  there was enough evidence to prosecute one paratrooper – known only as Soldier F – for the murders of two of the protesters.

Bloody Friday

That same year, six months later, there occurred ‘Bloody Friday’. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a large number of bombs in Belfast, killing nine people and injuring hundreds in the carnage that followed. One of the bombs exploded outside a shopping centre on the Cavehill Road, killing three people. One of the victims was a 14-year-old boy called Stephen Parker.

Many watching the television news reports were reduced to tears by horrifying pictures of firemen and rescue workers … scraping up the remains of human beings into plastic bags …

Bloody Sunday was itself memorialised in a song by the Irish band U2. Bloody Friday was made into a film but it had nothing to do with this attack (it was about a bank robbery). Fame is fickle.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Programme Director for the Security, Economics and Technology (SET) hub at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of five books on terrorism.

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