Belfast Telegraph

I probably would have joined IRA if I was teen on Bloody Sunday, says journalist Peter Taylor

Journalist Peter Taylor
Journalist Peter Taylor

Veteran journalist Peter Taylor has said that he "probably" would have joined the IRA if he was a teenager in Northern Ireland on Bloody Sunday.

Mr Taylor has become synonymous with Northern Ireland due to covering the Troubles for both ITV and the BBC.

He made the comments in a new documentary 'My Journey Through the Troubles' which details his personal recollection of covering the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show on Wednesday morning Mr Taylor said he had "qualified" the comments during the documentary.

"I said that had I been a teenager on Bloody Sunday I probably would have joined the IRA", the 77-year-old journalist said.

"I would have considered taking that final step which is what happened to hundreds of young Catholic men and woman on and after Bloody Sunday.

"What I was trying to do was to explain to people what drove so many young Catholics and nationalists to join the IRA, why do ordinary people decide to make this huge step and use violence to achieve a political end.

"I was just trying to achieve the mindset that no doubt drove many young people to join the IRA after the trauma of Bloody Sunday."

Mr Taylor said that he had "never expressed support for the IRA".

"I do not support the IRA, I do not support violence. What I have always tried to do is to get inside the minds of people who choose to adopt that particular path," he said.

Bloody Sunday in 1972
Bloody Sunday in 1972

Host Stephen Nolan said that Mr Taylor's comments may have been offensive to victims of the IRA.

"I did not say I would have joined the IRA and I would never have joined the IRA, what I was saying is that this is the reason, Bloody Sunday was the reason why so many young and women decided to join the IRA," the journalist responded.

"I understand the feelings of victims and I have interviewed many, many victims over my nearly 50 years as a reporter in Northern Ireland.

"Victims are reflected heavily in this documentary. I am acutely aware of the sensitivity of some of the things I say, what I try to do is to reflect what I see, what I believe is reality and I am acutely aware of what victims have been going through and are still going through.

"When I said I probably would have joined the IRA, I meant that if I had been a young Catholic teenager, nationalist teenager in Derry on Bloody Sunday and seen what had happened on that dreadful day I probably would have joined the IRA if I had been in that place at that time in the shoes of those young people."

On January 30 1972 thirteen civilians were shot dead in Londonderry by soldiers from the Parachute Regiment during a civil rights march, one died later in hospital.

The event became known as 'Bloody Sunday' and led to a surge in membership of the IRA.

Peter Taylor: My Journey Through the Troubles airs on Wednesday night at 9pm on BBC Two.

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