History Book – Ireland’s Bloody Friday


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, July 18, 2022. Hello! This is The world and all in it of WORLD Radio supported by the listeners. I am Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next, the world history book. Five years ago this week, OJ Simpson appeared before a Nevada parole board. Plus, an astronomical near miss.

But first a series of deadly bombings in Northern Ireland. This is Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER: We start today with July 21, 1972.


50 years ago this week, 22 bombs exploded across Northern Ireland and central Belfast. Coordinated bombardments take place over a period of approximately 80 minutes.

NEWS CLIP: It was Bloody Friday, the worst example of IRA terrorism. 11 people died and 130 were injured, half of them women and children.

The death toll seems to take the IRA by surprise. They claim to have telephoned warnings before each explosion. Leaders say security forces deliberately ignored some of their warnings to deliberately cause carnage, hoping this would lead to public outrage. Security forces counter that they simply could not follow up on every warning due to the sheer volume of threats in such a short time, adding that some warnings turned out to be hoaxes.

NEWS CLIP: Bombs exploded every minute for 20 minutes in busy shopping areas and a crowded bus terminal…

Members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army – or IRA – hide most of the bombs in cars or other vehicles. They park explosives near infrastructure and commercial targets.

NEWS CLIP: It had been parked outside a ballroom and an office building by two men who carried trays of cakes to a butcher shop and issued a warning…

The IRA is a paramilitary organization fighting for Irish independence and reunification. They hope to usher in a socialist republic and end British rule through violent action.

Some trace the conflict back over 400 years when Scottish and English settlers arrived, sparking a handful of wars and religious disputes. But this violent struggle, known as the The problems– began in the late 1960s over the status of Northern Ireland. Although the camps are often identified as Catholic or Protestant, this is not strictly a religious war.

A party, mainly Protestant, wants Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. And the other side, mainly Catholic, wants Northern Ireland to leave the UK and join a united Ireland. But irregular warfare is not about doctrine, but about national identity and government policy.

The bloody friday The attack is partly a response to the breakdown of talks between the IRA and the British government.

NEWS CLIP: This action today will fill us all with horror. It’s revolting and obscene.

The bombings prove to be a major setback for the IRA as public opinion sours. The conflict lasted another 26 years before a peace agreement put an end to it.

From 1968 to 1998, more than 3,600 people died in IRA bombings, many of them civilians. Twenty years ago the IRA formally apologized to the families of the victims saying:

Although it was not our intention to harm or kill non-combatants, the reality is…it was the consequence of our actions… We offer our sincere apologies and condolences to their families.

Then ten years ago this week.

ABC NEWSCAST: The sun just put on quite a show. Take a look at these amazing images captured by a NASA spacecraft yesterday. It’s a powerful solar flare…

The electrical activity of the sun goes through predictable cycles. Every 11 years or so, solar storms increase in intensity and frequency before returning to a more relative calm.

These events can affect the accuracy of the global positioning system, disrupt power grids and damage satellites, causing communication failures. Scientists therefore regularly monitor the activity of the sun.

At the start of 2012, scientists expect a particularly active year. A solar flare in March is the largest in five years.

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Can you tell us exactly what this solar storm is and what’s going on? Is there any danger here?

But on July 23, 2012, solar observation satellites recorded a very large CME coronal mass ejection. That’s when a cloud of electrically charged particles from the sun’s upper atmosphere is superheated and launched at high speed.

NASA VIDEO: Thanks to NASA’s massive heliophysical fleet, we have an excellent picture of the event…

Earth’s magnetosphere protects life on the planet from solar events like this. But due to the size, speed and quantity of the ejection, if the emission had occurred nine days earlier, it could have hit the ground directly. And if it had, it would likely have damaged or destroyed much of the space technology we rely on every day.

And finally, July 20, 2017. A board of Nevada parole board members meets in a small room.

AP VOTE SEQUENCE: TONY CORDA: My vote is to grant your parole, effective when you are eligible. SUSAN JACKSON: And I agree with Commissioner Corda and grant parole.
ADAM ENDEL: I agree with Commissioner Corda and agree to grant parole.

The convict who sits before the four-member council is former NFL star and actor OJ Simpson. He is serving a 33-year sentence for a 2008 armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas.

AP VOTING VIDEO: CONNIE BISBEE: Mr. Simpson, before you vote, I want to let you know that we believe that…we don’t look kindly on parole violations…

In the end, the board unanimously grants parole to OJ Simpson.

SIMPSON: Thank you. Thanks. Thanks.

Later, the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners grants Simpson an early release from his parole and he is a free man.

Simpson apparently lives quite comfortably in Las Vegas thanks to his NFL and Screen Actor’s Guild pensions. He is an avid golfer and regularly shares political and sports commentary on Twitter.

JO VIDEO FROM TWITTER ACCOUNT: Hey Twitter-world, it’s me. Yours sincerely. Boy, are we living in strange times…just saying. Take care of yourself.

It’s this week’s WORLD history book. I am Paul Butler.

WORLD Radio transcriptions are created on very short notice. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative recording of WORLD Radio programming is the audio recording.


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