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Troubles Every Day

Recalling Northern Ireland's Derry Disaster

Greengrass's film aired on Irish and British TV to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, but its first-ever screening took place in Derry, for an audience that included Cooper as well as many relatives of the victims. "I was afraid to face them," Cooper says. "I feel that I share a large degree of culpability for what happened—I didn't fire a bullet, but I was responsible for leading people on a march through the streets where they died." One of them was Barney McGuigan, shot in the head when he went to the aid of a mortally wounded neighbor. "I had been a shirt-manufacturing executive and Barney worked in our factory, so I knew him very well," Cooper continues. "I have never been able to face his widow, even to this very day. I've never had the guts. But I met his daughters—they look so very much like him, and I didn't see them for 30 years. Here were these kiddies, and now they were young women, and I talked to them about their dad and mum. It was very uplifting for me."

"When we showed the film in Derry, the reaction at the end was not what you'd expect—it wasn't vengeful," Greengrass adds. "There was instead a sense of serenity, a feeling that at last a necessary story has been told. You feel anger and contempt for the people who did such dreadful things and lied about it afterward, but your dominant feeling is a sort of letting go. You come up to date and say, That was then; we mustn't go back."


Related story:
J. Hoberman's review of Bloody Sunday

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