Battle of the Bogside: ‘I’d had enough. I was sick of it. I wasn’t taking it anymore.’ - 'Charlie' from Creggan

Veteran republican Sean Keenan addresses an impromptu public meeting in the Bogside. Also in the picture are John Hume, Paul Grace and Eamonn McCann.
Veteran republican Sean Keenan addresses an impromptu public meeting in the Bogside. Also in the picture are John Hume, Paul Grace and Eamonn McCann.

“To be honest, my blood had been up for some time. I’d seen what the police had done to peaceful protesters on October 5 and I’d been in Guildhall Square in January when the PD marchers attacked at Burntollet arrived.

“I was sick of the whole situation. I’d had enough of being told I was a second class citizen. So, when the Apprentice Boys’ annual march came around, I was ready to do my bit and stand up for my people.
“Some people try to downplay the Battle of the Bogside as some sort of big riot. This is nonsense. It was an insurrection. The people of the Bogside had had their fill of it and rose up against their so-called ‘masters’.
“Personally speaking, I’m proud of taking a stand and playing my part in the defence of the Bogside. There were hundreds of others who did likewise, many of them my friends and neighbours from Creggan. I can, however, only speak for myself and, to this day, 50 years later, I’m humbled by the fact that a community, sick to the back teeth with being told ‘you are not good enough’ took on the might of the RUC, the ‘B’ Specials and the unionist government at Stormont, looked them squarely in the eye and refused to blink.
“When the British Army arrived in Derry on August 14, I regarded it as a victory for the people. The RUC had been unable to beat us down; the ‘B’ Specials had been kept out of the Bogside and the unionist regime at Stormont had to pull its horns in. In effect, we’d won.
“OK, what was to follow - all the deaths and bombings and shootings - was horrible and I would have done anything to change that, but if you’d asked me how I felt as I stood at Waterloo Place on August 14, looking at the British soldiers standing behind their barricades, I would tell you I felt elated. Tired but elated.
“What had started as a street riot quickly transformed into a popular insurrection. The people had taken to the streets and defended their community against a police force that hated us and a political regime that regarded us as no better than dirt on their shoe. The Battle of the Bogside was, in my opinion, a real high point in our recent history.”