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23 January 1997 Edition

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Bloody Sunday pressure mounts

The 25 year campaign to prove that Bloody Sunday was state sponsored murder is now putting the British government under enormous pressure to open a new public inquiry into the deaths.

More and more evidence is being released to show that the Parachute Regiment in Derry in January 1972 mounted a planned operation to murder civil rights protestors. And more evidence has been promised.

It is to the credit of the tireless campaigners - many of them relatives of those who were murdered on Bloody Sunday - who have gone back to original sources to put together a picture of the events of that day. Their relentless search for the truth is now shaking the British state. Justice.cannot be denied much longer.

For Britain to admit that Bloody Sunday was murder would go to the core of their rule in Ireland because it was only the first of many shoot-to-kill operations.

This key event in Irish history can never be considered a closed chapter until the full truth of British army and British government responsibility is revealed and acknowledged by the guilty. Only then will justice have been done.

 

Bloody Sunday evidence shows planned operation



By Peadar Whelan

THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT STILL REFUSES to call a new inquiry into Bloody Sunday in Derry in January 1972 despite disclosures that the original Widgery Tribunal suppressed evidence that a number of those killed were fired on from Derry's Walls.

As well as statements given to the Tribunal by NICRA (Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association), radio ham Jimmy Porter submitted recordings of British Army radio traffic he made on the day of the killings. These confirmed that the British Army fired from the walls on the marchers. Widgery rejected the tapes saying they had been obtained illegally, despite the fact that the Brigade log for the day confirmed them. Widgery also rejected the evidence of Dr Raymond McClean who attended the dying and wounded on the day and observed the official post mortems on behalf of Cardinal Conway. Said McClean, ``I wrote a detailed submission to Widgery and I was told my evidence would not be required''.

Speaking to An Phoblacht Don Mullan, the author of a new book on Bloody Sunday, said, ``we could now call it the `Bloody Sunday Ambush' as the [new] evidence points to a wider military operation''. Mullan agreed that it is possible that the British set up a crossfire into which they drove the marchers.

Channel Four News on Friday 17 January reported that British soldiers from the Anglian Regiment fired from the walls at civilians in and around Rossville Street, possibly killing three men, John Young, William Nash and Michael McDaid, at a rubble barricade near Columbcille Court/Glenfada Park which ran across to the multi-storey Rossville Flats.

And according to a document discovered in the Public Record Office in London, the ``LCJ (Lord Chief Justice Widgery) will pile up the evidence against the deceased....but will conclude that he cannot find with certainty that any one of 13 was a gunman''. The document is believed to be suggesting that the bulk of the 700 statements from eye-witnesses collected by NICRA and handed over to the Tribunal be ignored and only a small number be admitted as evidence. All the statements that referred to firing from the Walls were ignored.

 
A BALLISTICS EXPERT WITH 25 years experience in the New York Police Department, Robert Breglio, is to come to Derry to conduct an independent field investigation into the Bloody Sunday killings. The announcement was made on 21 January at a Belfast press conference in the Linen Hall Library where the latest book about the killings - Eyewitness Bloody Sunday - was being launched.
Breglio, who was consulted by the book's author, Don Mullan, said in a statement to Mullan, ``after examination of photographs and statements and inquest reports... in my opinion the angles of trajectory of bullet wounds of three deceased: William Nash, John Young and Michael McDaid, originated from a height that would inflict wounds of this angle trajectory''.

Breglio is due to arrive in Derry on 25 January where he will conduct interviews with the surviving wounded and key witnesses.

According to Don Mullan, Breglio's report ``will, in due course, form part of the new evidence which will be made available to the British government as part of the relatives' demand for a new impartial and open inquiry''.

Meanwhile, John Kelly Chair of the Bloody Sunday Justice Group told the press conference, ``we are not campaigning for apologies - the time for apologies has come and gone. No one should ask for one on our behalf''.

After the press conference Kelly confirmed that the Campaign would disclose new documentary evidence that will condemn the British paratroopers for their actions on Bloody Sunday. ``The new evidence condemns the Paras outright,'' Kelly said.

 
Martin McGuinness will be the main speaker at the London Bloody Sunday rally on Saturday 25 January. Other speakers at the rally include Tony Benn MP, Gerry Duddy of Bloody Sunday Relatives for Justice, and Declan Bree TD Irish Labour Party.
The rally takes place at 3pm at Caxton House, Archway and will be preceded by the annual Bloody Sunday March which assembles at 12 noon at Highbury Fields.

 

Twenty five years of cover-ups



By Mary Nelis

A reporter contacted me last week regarding Bloody Sunday. She wanted to know how the people of Derry would respond if the British government apologised. Would that be enough for the people to lay to rest the ghost of Bloody Sunday, to really bury our dead, once and for all?

People who don't live in Derry or who have never been here, ask questions like that. They haven't seen the blood flowing in the street, they haven't smelt the fear. They haven't witnessed the raw courage of those crawling along the ground to the aid of the wounded and dying. They haven't tasted the silence which hung over this city for three whole days, and they do not understand that Bloody Sunday was not just about the murder of innocent people. Nor was it just about killing off the Civil Rights Movement by shooting the masses on the street.

Bloody Sunday was more than that. It was about testing the theory that in the interests of national security the state could murder anyone and cover it up.

It was a while before the people of Derry realised that the Bloody Sunday cover-up was but a fine tuning for the cover-ups to come, for Bloody Sunday was a declaration of war by the British government on us, the nationalist community, in the last remnants of its Empire.

It was a while before we understood the implications of that terrible day, for we had to bury our dead and we had to mourn. We mourned the loss of fathers, husbands, sons and friends and we mourned the loss of our innocence.

It was also a while before we saw clearly that the cover-up of mass murder and the part played in that murder by the British government of the day, was planned in advance. For it is only in recent years that evidence has emerged which shows that the success of the cover-up hinged on a ``first strike'' PR operation by senior British Army personnel. The dead had to be robbed of their reputations. They were not human beings, they were nail bombers and gunmen.

By the time the Widgery Tribunal began, we knew that this British Lord would preside over the greatest cover-up in the long and bloody history of British involvement in Ireland. And some of us knew that this would be the shape of things to come.

By the time the first anniversary of Bloody Sunday came around, the British government was already engaged in intimidation and terrorisation of the working class communities in the nationalist areas of the North, and another Lord - Diplock - was preparing the way for the cover-up of torture in the RUC interrogation centres.

The years after Bloody Sunday were one of the darkest periods in the North's history. Those were the years of the Shankill Butchers, the Dublin, Monaghan bombings, the psy-ops operations. Those were the years of pain and isolation for the relatives of Bloody Sunday.

But by the 10th anniversary the tide was beginning to turn against the British and cracks began to appear in their elaborate cover-up operation. The death squads operations during 1982-85 when thirty five people were murdered, twenty three of them in undercover operations, again focused attention on state killings in the name of national security.

International pressure forced the British government to set up yet another enquiry.

It began much the same as Widgery, as a vehicle by the British for the cover-up of death squad operations but ended in disaster for Sampson, who became the victim of an elaborate RUC cover-up of his investigations.

The then Attorney General, ``cheer up'' Paddy Mayhew, announced that there would be no prosecutions of the RUC men involved on the grounds of national security. The wheel had come full circle from Bloody Sunday. National security, enquiries, the Official Secrets Act, the whole cult of secrecy and cover-ups of Britain's dirty war, were now exposed for the world to see.

The 20th anniversary of Bloody Sunday saw 30,000 people march through the rain-soaked streets of Derry still demanding justice for the dead, and the truth for the living. The rainbow which stretched across the skies of Derry, the skies which wept on the day we buried our dead, became a symbol for hope and for peace, and a message to the British soldiers looking down from Derry Walls. There would be no more Bloody Sundays, no more cover-ups.

The truth, which the relatives have demanded for the last 25 years, will out and it will set us all free.

``The gentle rainfall drifting down, over Colmcille's town, could not refresh, only distil, the silent grief from hill to hill''. Thomas Kinsella - Butcher's Dozen.

We still grieve.

 

The end of innocence



The book that uncovers the truth about Bloody Sunday



This week we carry the first of two series of extracts from ``Eyewitness, Bloody Sunday'', a new book by Don Mullan which pieces together the events of 30 January 1972 when the Parachute Regiment shot dead 13 civil rights demonstrators in Derry. The book contains over 100 eyewitness accounts which prove that Bloody Sunday was state-sponsored murder.

Don Mullan

Bloody Sunday changed everything. A new and frightening era dawned, as the innocence of our generation died. Standing in the grounds of St Mary's Church, Creggan, having walked past thirteen coffins, I heard some of my peers speak of joining the IRA. Many did. Bloody Sunday was to cast a long shadow over the decades to come.

Mickey Devine, for example, was 17 when the events of Bloody Sunday took place. He went on to join the INLA and on 20 August 1981, he died in Long Kesh on the sixtieth day of his hunger strike. The following is his recollection of Bloody Sunday and the effect that it had on him:

``I will never forget standing in the Creggan chapel staring at the brown wooden boxes. We mourned, and Ireland mourned with us. That sight more that anything convinced me that there will never be peace in Ireland while Britain remains. When I looked at those coffins I developed a commitment to the Republican cause that I have never lost.''

I and many of my peers did not join a paramilitary organisation or illegal organisation, and there is no implication that any of the eyewitnesses whose statements appear in this book did. However, as I look back on Bloody Sunday I often wonder why not, and can only conclude, ``But for the grace of God...

John J. McDevitt
Electrician aged 50

On Sunday 30 January I was a steward at the Civil Rights march.

When the marchers reached the junction of William Street and Rossville Street the march proper turned up Rossville Street.

A number of people continued to walk towards the military roadblock at the old City picture house. They commenced to throw stones at the troops who replied with rubber bullets and CS gas. As stewards we were trying to get those stoning the troops to go up Rossville Street towards the Free Derry Corner where a meeting was being held.

I was standing at the taxi office in William Street when I heard a shot. It seemed to come from the direction of the Post Office sorting office. I ran in the direction of the sorting office and I saw a wisp of blue smoke ascending from the roof. Just then I heard a woman say, ``Someone had been shot'' in the vicinity of Stevenson's bakery. Before I had left the area I saw British soldiers in the sorting office yard. There were also soldiers with rifles at a window above a newspaper shop at the City cinema. The number of people throwing stones at the army was now very small and I had just gone a few yards up Rossville Street when I heard vehicles coming from William Street. They were travelling at great speed, I ran towards the new houses on my right and as the vehicles drew slightly past me they stopped. Doors flew open and a machine gun was fired from the open door. A number of soldiers jumped from the back and were firing rifles from the hip, apparently from nowhere in particular. I saw a man fall and a soldier went to him and turned his body over with his boot, he raised the rifle as if to shoot the man again but whether he did or not I cannot say as I had to run for cover behind a wall when I heard the firing getting worse. There was definitely nothing more than stones being fired at the army, no nail bombs or petrol bombs whatsoever. This is all I actually saw at this time. But when the soldiers had left it was clear to me that the situation was a lot worse than I had ever imagined.

Damien Donaghy
Schoolboy, aged 15

I was coming down William Street on Sunday 30 January 1972 at about 4.00pm. I had noticed a cloud of CS gas around the junction of William Street and Rossville Street. As I reached the Nook Bar in William Street I looked over to my left and I saw three soldiers lying on a ledge at the rear of the Great James' Street Presbyterian Church. I also noticed two soldiers inside the former premises of Abbey Taxis in William Street. The soldiers on the ledge had their rifles aimed towards the direction of Columbcille Court. I went round the corner of the Nook Bar and into the waste ground beside it. I was walking towards Columbcille Court then. I heard the sound of a rubber bullet being fired and I saw it bounce off the wall on my right and I then ran to pick it up. As I was bending down to pick it up I heard a shot ring out and I felt a twinge in my right hip. I fell to the ground and I saw the blood coming from a hole in my trousers just above my right knee. I then realised that I was shot. Some men came and I shouted to them that I was shot. Just as these men were coming to pick me up I heard two more shots and they were not rubber bullet shots. Some men then picked me up and carried me to a house in Columbcille Court and I was eventually taken to hospital in Fr George Carolan's car.

At no stage did I have a gun or a nail bomb in my possession.

Frank Mellan
Student Nurse, aged 18

Me and my mate were standing at the corner of flats opposite Glenfada Park. John [sic] Gilmore jumped into the air shouting ``I've been hit'' and he started running towards the cover of the flats where we were standing. My friend and I grabbed Gilmore by each arm and dragged him around the corner. Just beside the telephone box, Gilmore collapsed to the ground. I got down beside Gilmore, my friend stood by to ward people off. I commenced to open his jerkin to find where he had been hit. The bullet had gone in on the right side just under the lung, I think. I took off my jumper and tried to stop the bleeding. I felt around the rest of his body to see if he had been hit anywhere else and found that on his left side the bullet had come out taking most of his intestines with it. There wasn't much bleeding at this point. It seemed that he must have been bleeding internally. Blood started to come up his mouth. I wiped the blood away and tried to give artificial respiration. Each time I did this I heard a sound indicating that his lung had been punctured. All during this period there was shooting around us. Mr McGuigan stood up with his hands in the air trying to tell the army not to shoot. Mr McGuigan fell to the ground - blood pouring from his head. We knew immediately that he was dead, due to the amount of blood he lost. This man was unarmed. Due to the fierce shooting we were forced to leave Gilmore knowing that he was about to die.

Five of us pinned ourselves against the wall beside the phone box. At the steps leading up to Fahan Street, I noticed that another man had been cut down. This man, I found later, had also died. People began to wave white hankies in the air. There was still shooting, then a lull during which we managed to get out into a flat.

By now a fleet of ambulances had arrived and were attending to the dead and injured people. Priests had also arrived at this point. Ambulance men and priests were carrying the people to the ambulances when shooting again broke out. Eventually it began to lull and finally died out. It was the most terrifying experience I have ever encountered, especially knowing that all these peaceful demonstrators were without doubt unarmed. The army at no time came under any fire from Rossville Flats or any other area.

Bridget McGuigan
Wife of Bernard McGuigan

I am the wife of Bernard McGuigan who was killed. On 30 January 1972 he left home to join the Civil Rights march. He was wearing a navy anorak, and a blue grey suit and brown shoes and grey socks. He never owned a scarf or wore one and if one was found near him it could not have belonged to him. [According to the Widgery report, the scarf was found close to Bernard's body, and forensic tests suggested that it had been used during the firing of a revolver, suggesting that Bernard had been in close proximity of someone who fired]. He also had a piece of orange towelling which I had soaked in vinegar in case he was caught in CS gas. My husband never possessed weapons and indeed abhors violence and as Treasurer of the Blighs Lane Tenants Association, he was endeavouring to obtain a hut or a hall for the use of boys so that they could be kept off the streets and away from stone throwing.

I know that on 30 January he had no weapons and he had no intention of attacking the soldiers.

I have a brother-in-law who is at present serving in the RAF and both my father and father-in-law fought in the British forces in the 1914-18 war.

Mrs M.

I am blind, but my hearing is very good. I would swear to you that there was not one nail bomb.


Where was the IRA?



It seems clear that, despite NICRA's attempts to ensure a peaceful demonstration and to secure the withdrawal of the IRA from the area, there were nonetheless some IRA gunmen around. In 1972, both the Official and the Provisional IRA were operating in Derry. The Officials told Insight that they withdrew all their weapons from the Bogside Official Unit, which were dispersed in several safe dumps. All other weapons were held in two cars patrolling the Creggan. They also decreed that no firing against the army was to be initiated by their men, who were only to fire defensively. However, they admitted that seven unauthorised shots were fired by Officials during the time in question and that one authorised defensive shot was fired in William Street by one of their members. According to Insight, the Provisionals said they had withdrawn all their weapons from the Bogside except for those members who were also acting as stewards on the march. Both wings of the IRA admitted that they sent for reinforcements from the Creggan when the firing started, but they did not arrive and were not in a position to fire until after the army had ceased firing, although the IRA did indeed fire upon soldiers then. There is also independent evidence of the presence of a gunman in the crowd. Fr (now Bishop) Daly saw a gunman just after Jack Duddy was killed by army gunfire, and photographer Fulvio Grimaldi took a photograph of this gunman. The Insight team also interviewed a witness who said that he saw someone with a carbine fire seven shots at the soldiers from the fifth floor of the Rossville Flats. One of the wounded, Alexander Nash, was hit in the arm by a low velocity bullet, which may have come from a gunman rather than a soldier. However all the available evidence suggests that the IRA was not present in force; that those of its members who were present and armed fired very few shots; and they could not have produced the fusillade of firing that the soldiers claimed to have experienced.


In 1990 David Reynolds, in his book, The Paras, 50 Years of Courage, wrote:

The Paras moved in to make arrests using batons ...But the crowd turned on them and, caught in a clever trap, IRA snipers opened fire on them...Two Paras were hit by machine-gun fire and two more seriously burned after acid bombs were dropped off the top of Rossville Street flats. Thompson sub machine guns, Garrand sniper rifles and Armalites were fired at the Paras in a series of separate fire fights which lasted over an hour. The Paras engaged armed terrorists in what was a straightforward ambush by the IRA, who attempted to use the cover of the crowd for protection. When the shooting had stopped, 13 gunmen were dead and another 16 injured...

It is widely believed that as many as 20 gunmen died during the fire fight, but were taken away to be buried elsewhere for fear that forensic science would have proved that they had been firing weapons. The Widgery report exonerated the Paras from IRA claims that they had fired indiscriminately at a crowd and of opening fire before they themselves were fired on...

For the Battalion they had simpl[y] done their job. Having been ambushed, they returned fire and the world's press dubbed the event ``Bloody Sunday''. It was a day the IRA would never forget.


Eyewitness Bloody Sunday
By Don Mullan
Published by Wolfhound
Price £8.99
 
Bloody Sunday solidarity


Radical campaigners in the United States have sent solidarity greetings to the people of Ireland on the 25th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

The text of their letter and list of signatories is printed below:

To the People of Ireland:

We send warm greetings to those seeking justice in Ireland. We salute you on this occasion of the 25th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Your struggle is our struggle. You are not alone in confronting a system that oppresses an indigenous people. In unity with communities of resistance throughout the world, we demand respect and dignity for all, not just the few. As you continue your difficult struggle for justice and democracy against a colonial power, you have our support and solidarity.


Mumia Abu-Jamal, author of ``Live from Death Row'' and National Lawyers Guild Regional (Jailhouse)
Vice President, All People's Congress Committee in Solidarity with the People of Mexico, Houston, Texas
Sissy Farenthold, former Democratic Party candidate for Texas governor
Andy Garza, union organiser for International Ladies Garment Workers, South Houston, Texas*
Maria Gonzalez, Professor of English, University of Houston*
Gautemala Support Network, Houston
James Harrington, Director of Texas Civil Rights Project, Austin*
Eugene Harrington, Professor of Law at Texas Southern University*
Houston Cuba Coalition, Houston, Texas
International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Maria Jimenez, American Friends Service, Houston, Texas*
The Irish Unity Committee, Houston, Texas
Leo Loe, Editorial Staff of Houston Peace News*
MECHA (Movimiento Estudianti Chicceno de Aztian)
Travis Morales, supporter of the Revolutionary Community Party*
National Lawyers Guild, Houston Chapter
National Lawyers Guild, Texas-Oklahoma Region
PAPPA (Pan-African People for Progressive Action), University of Houston
Linda Reed, Director of the African American Studies Program, University of Houston*
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Young Socialists, Houston, Texas
*organisation for identification only
GUE-NGL-new-Jan-2106

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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