Wings’s debut single, ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’ was written in response to the Bloody Sunday massacre on 30 January 1972.

Before I did that, I always used to think, God, John’s crackers, doing all these political songs. I understand he really feels deeply, you know. So do I. I hate all that Nixon bit, all that Ireland bit, and oppression anywhere. I think our mob do, our generation do hate that and wish it could be changed, but up until the actual time when the paratroopers went in and killed a few people, a bit like Kent State, the moment when it is actually there on the doorstep, I always used to think it’s still cool to not say anything about it, because it’s not going to sell anyway and no one’s gonna be interested.

So I tried it, it was number one in Ireland and, funnily enough, it was number one in Spain, of all places. I don’t think Franco could have understood.

Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney In His Own Words

The Bogside Massacre took place in Derry, Northern Ireland, when British soldiered opened fire on unarmed civilians during a protest march. Fourteen people died; many of those shot were fleeing the scene, and some while attending to the wounded.

The worst mass shooting in Northern Irish history, Bloody Sunday worsened the conflict between Irish nationalists and the British Army, and led to a surge of support for the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

The morning after what they call in the newspapers Bloody Sunday, I read the newspapers and it just looked a bit wrong, what the British Army was doing in there. So I started on this piano and wrote the song. That’s how I did it.

I’m British, I was born in Britain and the song is written from a British point of view. I’ve had people saying you shouldn’t go talking if you’re not Irish, but the point is it’s the British Army that’s causing the trouble, not the Irish, you know? The Irish got taken over about 800 years ago, a little bit of it, by the British. They injected British people into there and made it a little bit of Britain. I have always really thought of it all as one place, Ireland.

I see the trouble now being that certain people think that the British shouldn’t be there, and if they are there they certainly shouldn’t be shooting the Irish people. I think they shouldn’t be, you know? It’s a bit much.

The English have got a great history of this. I was brought up to be proud of the British Empire, proud of what the British owned all over the world. We used to own most of the world at one time, almost, and gradually had to give it back ’cause people said ‘Hey, listen, it’s ours, not yours,’ and they wanted it back. I just see that’s the same thing in Ireland, you know, it’s a little bit of territory we’ve gained in the past, and I figure that if we didn’t gain it legally, with the consent of the majority of the people, then there was something wrong somewhere.

I think this Bloody Sunday, where the British paratroop regiment went in and shot at the people, it just isn’t on as far as I’m concerned. I’m more on their side than the British troops’ in that particular thing because they’re the people who live there, it’s their country, they’re the Irish, and we’re the British. No matter how many of the Ulster people say ‘Yeah, we’re British too’, I can see that point of view, but me, as a British citizen, I don’t like my army going around shooting my Irish brothers. That’s about the size of it.

I’m British, yeah, of course I am. I’ve probably got some Irish background, yes, but I feel British, and I’d like to feel proud of Britain and what Britain does.

Paul McCartney
ABC News, March 1972

Paul McCartney's handwritten notes for Give Ireland Back To The Irish

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