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30 January 1997 Edition

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New evidence destroys Widgery facade

Paras lied to Tribunal



A new report* which examined the statements made by British soldiers on the evening of Bloody Sunday and their evidence to the Widgery Tribunal has found that ``the soldiers' evidence is unreliable - you can't trust it''.

The report, compiled by law professor Dermot Walsh for the newly formed Bloody Sunday Trust, effectively dismisses the British government's Widgery Tribunal into the killings,

And in a devastating comment in the summary to the report Walsh states, ``it beggars belief that the Tribunal should proceed to base its findings so heavily on the premise that the evidence given by the soldiers at the Tribunal was honest and reliable. The immediate result of this approach is totally to discredit the bulk of the findings of Widgery. They are based on evidence which is fundamentally flawed''.

The Paratroopers' evidence, which was available to both Widgery and the Council for the Tribunal, was withheld from the legal team representing the families of the dead and wounded and only became available through the Public Records Office in the summer of 1996.

The British soldiers' evidence, therefore, was never tested in open court nor were they questioned about huge discrepancies in their stories. According to Walsh, Widgery and the Council for the Tribunal, representing the interests of the state, was to find out the facts of Bloody Sunday, restore confidence and integrity in the rule of law and whose overriding objective was to produce and test the evidence, ignored the discrepancies in the paratroopers evidence and ruled in their favour.

The summary adds, ``the Tribunal proceedings and Report have been interpreted in the light of these newly released documents and the results deal a devastating blow not just to the credibility of the Tribunal's findings but also to the whole manner in which they were reached'' and adds, ``the documents reveal that for almost every soldier who fired one or more shots on Bloody Sunday there are substantial material discrepancies between the account offered in the statement made on 30/31 January and the version given in evidence to the Tribunal. The nature and extent of these discrepancies are such that they also give grounds for charges of murder or attempted murder''.

Speaking to An Phoblacht Walsh revealed that the paras were ordered to cock their weapons before they went through the barricades into the Bogside. He believes the paratroopers were ``trigger happy''. and that one para in particular, soldier H, who fired 19 unaccounted shots (almost 20% of all the rounds fired by paratroopers on the day) ``went berserk''. Walsh said it was important to look at Soldier H's evidence to the Tribunal and pointed out, ``he fired 19 shots at someone who didn't exist. Where did these shots go?''

In the report Walsh says, ``In his original statement H described a virtual battle scene as the paras moved along Rossville Street ... they were continually fired at, stoned and nail-bombed and acid-bombed. None of his colleagues described the scene in such dramatic terms and there is no photographic or other independent evidence to support this version''.

Initially H claims to have fired his 19 unaccounted rounds in Glenfada Park then in his evidence to the Tribunal he says while travelling along Rossville Street in an armoured vehicle he located a gunman in a toilet window and fired his 19 rounds. Walsh says that even the Secretary to the Tribunal was wary of the reliability of H's evidence and in a memo to Widgery wrote that H's evidence may have been ``wished upon him from the start'', that H was briefed on what to say. Despite this, neither Widgery nor the Council for the Tribunal closely examined H's evidence or attempted to find out where the 19 shots went to.

*The Bloody Sunday Tribunal: A Resounding Defeat for Truth, Justice and the Rule of Law

 

Bloody Sunday London



Eoin O'Broin

Speaking to a crowd of 1,500 marchers in London last Sunday, Martin McGuinness described Bloody Sunday as an ``open wound'' for Irish people. ``The British government has done everything in its power to convince people that those who died were involved in bombing and shooting against the British Army. They could have said they were prepared to recognise that a terrible wrong was done on that day, and hold their hand up and tell the full story of what happened''.

At a press conference before the march, Gerry Duddy from the Bloody Sunday Justice Group, reiterated the campaign's demand for a fresh independent inquiry.

The annual Bloody Sunday commemoration march travelled through North London to a rally at Caxton Hall. A large police presence accompanied the march but it passed without incident. Among the speakers was Irish Labour TD Declan Bree.

 

We demand civil rights, all the marchers did say



BY MICHEAL Mac DONNCHA

We demand civil rights all the marchers did say
Ten thousand people assembled that day
From Free Derry Corner set off with a cheer
Our march it was peaceful, we'd nothing to fear.
From the song
Bloody Sunday

 

IT IS GENERALLY acknowledged that Bloody Sunday struck a fatal blow to civil rights as a movement. The march was planned to mark a revival of the movement which had been savagely dealt with first by the Stormont regime and then by the British Army which enforced internment without trial in August 1971. Many of the movement's leaders and activists had been interned and, apart from almost daily rioting in and around nationalist areas, street protests had diminished.

In defying the ban on marches the Civil Rights movement was declaring itself undeterred. In the pamphlet it published after Bloody Sunday NICRA said those marching in Derry that day ``were marching to open the gates of Concentration Camps, smash torture chambers, end repression and military terror. They were met with a new and terrible escalation of administrative violence.''

Nationalists had seen a peaceful movement shot off the streets, hundreds of their people interned, and now the ultimate repression where, in NICRA's words, Derry ``has taken its place with My Lai and Sharpeville as a milestone in the struggle of humanity against oppression''. Support for the IRA was never stronger. The nationalist people were off their knees and in the face of repression the chosen method of resistance of great numbers of them was armed struggle.

Not until the struggle in the H-Blocks at the end of the 1970s did nationalists return to the streets in a mass movement once again. Since then they have seldom been absent from the streets. They have asserted their rights, and won many of them, in a variety of campaigns. All highlighted the sectarian nature of the Six-County state. A look at the balance sheet presented here shows that sectarianism still thrives and that the second-class citizenship of nationalists is a live issue.

Demands relating to the Irish language are noticeable by their absence from the 1972 list of civil rights issues. But the Irish-speaking community in the Six Counties has been to the fore in demanding its rights from a hostile state. By persistent and militant action that community has asserted itself as never before.

The injustice of partition and the denial of Irish democracy is manifested in the denial of rights to nationalists within the Six Counties. But all citizens suffer from the lack of democracy. The issues listed here are today vital to the resolution of the conflict - issues like the release of prisoners, the disbandment of the RUC, an end to discrimination and, centrally, the repeal of the Government of Ireland Act and related legislation.

Bloody Sunday disrupted the Civil Rights Movement and set the struggle of the nationalist people on a new course. Twenty-five years on the nationalist people are still off their knees but progress towards real democracy is barred by the government which was responsible for Bloody Sunday. The need to challenge that government across the whole range of issues is as great today as it was in January 1972.


Policy of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association


Adopted at Annual General Meeting, February 1972



To create conditions in which talks can take place, the following demands must be met and the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association must be represented at such talks.

1. The immediate release of all internees.

2. The withdrawal of troops from all areas pending their total withdrawal, and an immediate end to the policy of military occupation and repression of anti-unionist areas.

3. Legislation by the Westminster government to abolish the Special Powers Act in its entirety.

4. The dismissal of the Stormont administration and immediate legislation at Westminster to guarantee the following:

Free elections under Proportional Representation;

The rights of all political groups including those opposed to the present state.

An end to discrimination.

A recognition that it is as legitimate to work for an independent and united Ireland as it is to work for the maintenance of the Union of Northern Ireland with Great Britain and the removal of all legislative obstacles in the Government of Ireland Acts that stand in the way of this objective.

The minimum acceptable outcome of these talks would be the ending of:

1. The Public Order (Amendment) Act, the Criminal Justice (Temporary Provisions) Act, the Flags and Emblems Act, the Payment of Debt (Emergency Provisions) Act and other repressive legislation.

2. Discrimination in all forms of private and public employment and housing and the allocation of development capital.

3. All elections to be held under PR with fair boundaries.

4. The establishment of a civilian impartial police force.

5. A radical reform of the entire legal system to include: the implementation of the idea of law as a community service available to all, and not a repressive agency used against some; the end to anti-working class and anti-feminist and political bias in the selection of jurors; the dismissal of all politically appointed judges; the immediate creation of an impartial public prosecutor's office, outside the control and influence of government.

6. That the involvement of local organisations id deciding future policy for their area, as recommended by the McCrory Report, should be real and meaningful.

7. An amnesty for all political prisoners in British and Irish jails.

8. An amnesty for all illegally held guns and the disbandment of sectarian gun clubs.

9. Those responsible for murdering innocent people, and torturing detainees and war crimes should be brought to trial.

10. That the Westminster government which bears an immense and overwhelming burden of guilt for its neglect of this area, and its unwillingness to take any action against the excesses of its subordinate government at Stormont, make available the capital necessary to end unemployment, bad housing and the lack of community amenities.

We stress that our function is to secure basic human and civil rights for all of the people in this area, irrespective of their politics or religion. This could be attained by the adoption of an effective Bill of Rights by the government in power.



Where those rights stand in 1997



1. Internment without trial was not ended until 1975. Between 1971 and 1975 over 2,000 people, the vast majority of whom were nationalists, were interned. The power to intern remains on the British statue book to be implemented at any time with the stroke of a pen. Over 600 Irish political prisoners are currently held in jails in Ireland and Britain.

2. Nearly 20,000 British troops are deployed throughout the Six Counties, occupying nationalist areas in some of the most heavily fortified and high-technology bases in the world.

3. The Emergency Provisions Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act continue the repressive powers of the old Special Powers Act, including juryless, one-judge trials (Diplock courts). In the case of the PTA the repressive law was extended to Britain where it has been used predominantly against the Irish community. These acts have been repeatedly renewed and refined over the past 23 years, and supplemented with a raft of other repressive British legislation and `orders in council'.

4. The Stormont parliament was prorogued by the British government on 24 March 1972.

There has never been Proportional Representation in Westminster elections in the Six Counties or in Britain.

The rights of voters for Sinn Féin, which is opposed to the state, are denied through the party's exclusion from the current talks.

Discrimination in employment is still rife in the Six Counties. Catholic males suffer just under two and half times the rate of unemployment of Protestant males.

The legislative obstacles to Irish unity contained in the Government of Ireland Act (1920) and the Ireland Act (1949) have been added to with the Northern Ireland Constitution Act (1973) and the Anglo-Irish Agreement (1985).

 


1. As noted above, a raft of repressive legislation is in place including refined Public Order legislation. The flying of the Tricolour is still severely restricted by the RUC.

2. Despite over 20 years of the British government-established Fair Employment Agency/Commission there has been no significant diminution in job discrimination. A 1994 Family expenditure survey showed that the average gross weekly income for Protestants was 17% higher than the average income for Catholics. 29% of Catholic households derived their total income from social welfare payments in comparison to 17% of Protestant households.

3. See 4 (1) above.

4. The RUC remains a sectarian, repressive force as demonstrated last year at Drumcree. A ``civilian and impartial police force'' has been ruled out by the British government.

5. Under the Diplock system juries were abolished for those charged under `emergency' legislation. All judges are politically appointed. The Director of Public Prosecutions in the Six Counties is an integral part of the repressive legal apparatus.

6. Local organisations in the Six Counties have no power in deciding public policy; decisions are taken by the Northern Ireland Office under direction from the British government in Whitehall and Downing Street.

7. On several occasions during the peace process British Ministers claimed that there are no political prisoners held in British jails.

8. There are over 130,000 legally-held weapons, 43 gun clubs and 39 firing ranges in the Six Counties; the vast majority of these are in the unionist community. These weapons were ruled out of the debate on the decommissioning of weapons, the issue which was used by the British government to delay and destroy the peace process.

9. No member of the RUC and only two members of the British army have been convicted of murder in the conflict in the Six Counties, despite the fact that over 300 people have been killed by British forces since 1969.

10. People in the Six Counties suffer the highest levels of unemployment in Western Europe. Around one in five of the workforce, 135,000 people, are without jobs. 50% of these are long-term unemployed. While housing for nationalists has improved from the dire situation pre-1972 the lack of new public housing in recent years, and the threatened privatisation of the Housing Executive point to major difficulties ahead. Overall the Six Counties has a crisis economy, heavily dependent on the subvention from Westminster. Its periphorality within the United Kingdom, its divorce from the rest of the Irish economy, its total lack of democratic accountability ensure that it will continue in crisis until radical change is implemented.

 

A defusion of anger




Jack Madden describes how the Bloody Sunday killings set off an unprecedented wave of protests in the 26 Counties - and prompted words but no action from the government


When news of Bloody Sunday spread throughout Ireland the initial anger grew into a massive groundswell of public resentment against British rule which was dissipated only by the false promise of drastic action by the Fianna Fáil government in a spate of all too familiar cynical verbalising.

Within hours of the Derry murders, a 50-strong picket had been placed on the British Embassy in Merrion Square and Sinn Féin called for the immediate release of republican prisoners held in jails in the 26 Counties.
    
So many marches were taking place that at times columns of protesting workers passed each other in the streets going in opposite directions

Realising the potential impact of the atrocity, FF premier Jack Lynch issued a statement:

``Even if they (the marchers) were in technical breach of the recently imposed ban on demonstrations, this act by British troops was unbelievably and savagely inhuman.''

It was a sentiment echoed by Fine Gael leader Liam Cosgrave, who demanded ``a political solution that will get the British Army out of this country for ever''.

Labour Party leader Brendan Corish condemned ``the brutal and barbarous killings by the British army'', adding that his foreign affairs spokesperson, Conor Cruise O'Brien, would be going to London ``to meet Harold Wilson to seek his support for an international inquiry''.

Anticipating the anger which Bloody Sunday would arouse, the Irish Times editorial on Monday 31 January 1972, attacked the Heath government in Britain for demonstrating ``all the talent for arrogance, blindness and malevolence that an imperial power in decline manifests when faced with a small but determined people''.

It continued: ``The revulsion which has been felt at some of the earlier British misdeeds will be as nothing compared to the tidal wave of feeling that Derry's 13 dead will set in motion. It will not be confined to Ireland. England's name must spell shame around the world today and with it Mr Heath's.''.

Later that day, a crowd of 5,000 protestors converged on the British Embassy in Dublin in a spontaneous demonstration of anger. Petrol-bombs, bricks and stones were used to smash most of the embassy's windows, but the well-protected building could not be set alight - yet.

Such spontaneity was reflected elsewhere in the country, particularly in Dundalk, Limerick, Galway, Carrickmacross and Cork. Tens of thousands of workers downed tools and held parades through these and other towns, parades which, although unplanned and uncoordinated, signified the rising tide of anger and emotion.

The Cork protest began early on Monday morning when 400 dockers left work. Their action quickly snowballed and thousands more poured out from the Pfitzer, Ford, and Roofchrome factories and from building sites and CIE garages, all converging on Cork city centre. According to one news report: ``So many marches were taking place that at times columns of protesting workers passed each other in the streets going in opposite directions.''

University students joined, and sometimes led, these demonstrations. In Galway they closed the college and then led a parade through the city to a public meeting in Eyre Square before occupying the local offices of United Dominion Trust for two hours.

A meeting of staff and students in St Patrick's College, Maynooth called for the total withdrawal of British troops from Ireland. Interestingly, they also made a point of regretting the college's ``own inactivity and the apathy of the government and people'' of the twenty-six counties ``which has contributed to the continuation of injustice and oppression''.

GAA president Pat Fanning summarised the rising tide of unity:

``Bloody Sunday has drawn the Irish people together. The point of no return has been reached and passed. That is the victory of those who were so cruelly and callously done to death on the streets of Derry.''

Waterford's Mayor Tim Galvin announced a day of mourning in the city, Leitrim county councillors and staff held a vigil outside Carrick-on-Shannon Courthouse, while other councils in Kerry, Kildare, Laois, Westmeath, Kilkenny, Clare and Monaghan joined the chorus of condemnation.

At a meeting of Carrickmacross Urban District Council that night, Francie O'Donoghue, later a Workers Party councillor and a virulent opponent of the hunger-strikers and the Republican Movement, laid a revolver on the council table and announced that ``the only way to talk to the British Army is through the barrel of a gun''.

The call for the release of republican prisoners was repeated at this and other council meetings, while in Mountjoy Jail, 16 POWs began a 24-hour hunger-strike demanding their release ``so that we can go to the aid of our fellow countrymen in the Six Counties''.

Recruit


Faced with a situation which was getting out of control, Jack Lynch was forced to act. Besides the almost comical announcement that 100 FCA men were being sent to the border, and that the army had plans to recruit 2,500 men, the government at no time considered sending troops across the border.

Following an emergency meeting of the Fianna Fail Cabinet and another meeting between the three party leaders, a series of diplomatic moves were announced. Foreign Affairs Minister Patrick Hillery was despatched to the United Nations to try and win backing for the government against Britain, while the Irish ambassador to London, Donal O'Sullivan, was recalled to Dublin.

Lynch released a five-point programme which, he said, would have to be agreed to by the British before full diplomatic relations would be resumed. This programme involved:

1. The immediate withdrawal of British troops from Derry and from other areas in the North where there is a high concentration of Catholics;

2. The cessation of the harassment of the minority in the North;

3. The end of internment without trial;

4. A declaration of Britain's intention to achieve a final settlement of the Irish question;

5. The convocation of a conference for this purpose.

Later that Monday evening, in an interview with BBC's Panorama programme, Lynch retreated from his earlier tough talk, admitting that the recall of the ambassador did not mean that diplomatic relations were being broken off.

Worried at the prospect of an upsurge of support for the IRA, Lynch, Cosgrave and Corish discussed the establishment of an all-party Northern committee, while later, in a televised `address to the nation', Lynch announced that finance would be given to nationalist organisations such as the SDLP and Civil Rights Association ``who are working peacefully to achieve freedom from unionism''.

He continued: ``Our policies and our reactions must be taken calmly and with determination. The Irish people can rely on Dail Eireann and the government in this regard.''

This claim was noted by one media commentator, who said:

``When the Dail last met to solemnly debate the North, newspapers found it necessary to point out that quorum bells had to ring to summon a sufficiency of deputies to the chamber.''

Solidarity


Genuine moves of solidarity came, however, particularly from the trade unions, many of which asked their members to stop work on Wednesday 2 February to coincide with the funerals of Derry's victims. The ITGWU described Bloody Sunday as ``one more in the long list of savage and inhuman acts perpetrated on the people of Ireland by the forces and agents of the British crown''.

In Dublin, where Conradh na Gaeilge called for a boycott of British goods - a call which led to the withdrawal of British manufactured foodstuffs from shops and supermarkets - most activity centred on the British Embassy.

Throughout Monday crowds of workers, students, socialists, republicans and people of no particular political affiliation, gathered in Merrion Square, listening to speeches from, amongst others, Paul Tansey, a student leader.

Urging his audience to take stronger action than marches to force the government to ``demand the total withdrawal of British troops'' and to ``break off diplomatic relations with the UK if the British government is unwilling to co-operate in this policy'', his speech was typical of the general reaction.

Indeed, Cork's Lord Mayor TJ O'Sullivan, in a personal statement to workers who handed him protest notes, went even further, saying: ``If they want murder, they'll have murder - one of theirs will go for each of ours!''

Protest


Tuesday began as Monday ended, with ever-increasing protests. British newspapers were left lying at Dublin Airport, where workers refused to handle them, and, following the example of Galway dockers who refused to handle a British ship, dockers in Rosslare insisted that the Union Jack be removed from the British Rail ferry.

Sympathy notices appeared in the newspapers lined with heavy black borders. In later days, such notices were to fill up to three pages in the Irish Times, as did notices announcing the cancellation of concerts and plays as a mark of respect for Derry's dead.

Bombing incidents against both the British Embassy and British-owned premises in Dun Laoghaire, Waterford and, at a later stage, Mayo, became a feature of the protest action from Tuesday onwards, a phenomenon which no establishment politician commented on until after Wednesday's funeral, when they used such attacks to justify an increasingly conciliatory line with the British.

Political activity by these politicians centred on the continued `diplomacy' of Hillery, who arrived in New York for a meeting with UN Under Secretary General Chakravarthi Narasimhma. Far from the constraints of party discipline, he felt free to make statements which actually got to the root of Ireland's British problem.

He said his mission in going to the UN was ``to end the reign of terror which Britain is perpetrating on our people... What has been done in Ireland by the British is an affront to justice in the world. If they get away with it this time, we can have little hope for justice.''

Asked about his attitude to the IRA, he replied: ``The IRA are not for me to explain. They are a response to Britain's policy.''

Already, by Tuesday evening, the first diplomatic initiative of an Irish party leader collapsed, when Conor Cruise O'Brien failed to secure an international inquiry, the British deciding to appoint Lord Widgery to lead a whitewash on the Derry massacre.

Mourning


Wednesday was a day of unprecedented national mourning with shops, factories, schools and offices closing as a mark of respect while Derry buried its dead. Thousands attended marches, rallies and religious services while the politicians converged on Derry to deprive ordinary people of their rightful place at the funeral service.

In the South, attention again focused on the British Embassy. From early morning, crowds arrived in Merrion Square. A huge demonstration arrived from Parnell Square. Led by marchers carrying 13 coffins and a muffled drum, they carried hundreds of placards demonstrating their opposition to British rule in the North.

As the marchers, who were joined by thousands more along the route, reached the embassy, they watched as a Union Jack and the effigy of a pig were burnt. A short while afterwards, the steel shutters protecting the building were smashed and a few well-aimed petrol bombs set it alight and the ensuing flames gutted the embassy.

Faced with so great a crowd, the gardai made only a half-hearted attempt to intervene. Even the British ambassador, John Peck, was unperturbed, expressing amazement that it hadn't been burnt sooner. Later that evening, during another march to the embassy, an attempt to petrol-bomb the British Passport Office led to repeated baton-charges by the gardai.

Action


Throughout the twenty-six counties, protests, if less dramatic than that at the British Embassy, were nevertheless further proof that the Irish people wanted firmer action from the Dublin government. But, as the editorial in the Irish Times commented, the purpose of the day's protests ``was, calculatedly, an opportunity for people to let off steam''.

Although Conor Cruise O'Brien continued his meetings with British politicians, including Home Secretary Reginald Maudling, to whom he confided that he no longer believed that the retention of British troops in the North was acceptable, and although Hillery continued his mission ``to win friends and influence governments'', Wednesday, the day of the funerals, marked the last day of even token government opposition to the British.

By Thursday morning, a full apology for the embassy burning had been handed to the British authorities through the Department of Foreign Affairs, and compensation for the damage was promised. Jack Lynch met British ambassador John Peck in what were described as ``friendly and cordial discussions'' before he delivered a speech in Leinster House analysing the protests.

He commented: ``A small minority, men, who, under the cloak of patriotism sought to overthrow the institutions of the state, infiltrated what was a peaceful demonstration ... and fomented violence.

``In the days immediately ahead, there is no doubt that [they] will seek to play on the sympathies and emotions of ordinary decent people to secure support for their own actions and objectives... Those who seek to usurp the functions of government will meet with no toleration.''

As if to emphasise that republicans could expect no change in the hostility of the authorities, seven republicans appeared in a Monaghan Court charged with possession of weapons in County Louth a week earlier.

Attention


Instead of concentrating on steps to be taken against the British for Bloody Sunday, the Leinster House leaders suddenly shifted attention towards the next big Civil Rights march in Newry the following Sunday, at once raising the expectancy that another tragedy would occur and at the same time taking the public mind off the events in Derry.

Despite denials from Patrick Hillery that his approaches to the UN and the Canadian and French governments were rebuffed, it was quite clear that Lynch's much-vaunted `diplomatic pressures' had ended as a damp squib with no international outcry against the British.

Nor was the `five-point programme' pursued, and, as the days passed without any British response, the government again crawled back in the hope that talks might be arranged at an unspecific date in the future.

Newry passed without incident and with it the momentum which had built over the previous week. There was no release of republican prisoners, no march across the border to challenge British rule in part of Ireland, and no change from the few limited protests which the Dublin government had felt it politic to make.

By making these protests, Lynch, Corish and Cosgrave had effectively created the illusion that progress was imminent and this, no doubt, satiated many of those who, as they saw it, believed that something was being done and that the government could pressurise the British.

Fervour


But what of the hundreds of thousands who demanded more drastic action and marched through the streets of Ireland? No doubt the three-days of mass protests was an effective means of reducing the emotional fervour of the people. Such intense emotion could not be sustained and, because the Republican Movement was unprepared to garner and mould this emotion into positive political action, the opportunity which had tragically presented itself was lost. It must be remembered, however, that the efforts of republicans, who had a short time before been forced to rebuild the Movement after the desertion of erstwhile comrades, were mainly concentrated on the war effort in the occupied Six Counties.

But there can be no doubt that the national consciousness raised by Bloody Sunday was cynically defused by the Dublin government.

This article first appeared in An Phoblacht in January 1984

 

All of Derry was injured

Five survivors of Bloody Sunday talk for the first time about their experiences that day to Martha McClelland

  The Paras claimed they were being fired on. Yet they were running into the firing zone, as they claimed it was. Trained soldiers don't run into a firing line 
Alana and Annie Burke

18 year old Alana Burke wasn't even on the march that day, when an armoured car deliberately ran her down in the car park at the back of the High Flats. Badly injured, with crushed vertebrae, disc damage and multiple internal injuries, she was left with very serious physical complications for which she attends hospital to this day.

``I just went to have a look, and met [the march] halfway down William Street...but when some stone-throwing started at Chamberlain Street and William Street I retreated. Even trying to get out of the way was difficult. I'd already been hit with dye, soaked by the water cannon, and I was sick from the CS gas. I remember someone from the Knights of Malta helping me, then I must've blacked out. I remember running hard, but I had this big Maxi coat on, and because I was soaked to my very underwear, it was dragging me down. A fellow running alongside me gave me his tie to hang on to, to pull me along.

``The general thought was that the best escape was through the car park at the back of the flats, through a wee alley into Rossville Street. An armoured car came quite fast behind us into the car park. We were running hard but as I ran I saw an elderly man try to get out past the Paras into Rossville Street. I saw one soldier raise his rifle and strike the man full in the face with the butt of his rifle. The man seemed to rise in the air, then fell to the ground, blood streaming from his face.

``Meanwhile the Saracen kept coming. Someone shouted to me that it was coming straight for us. It came up behind me and struck me on the right side of my back and leg. I still remember the thud, then I blacked out for a period. I remember crawling on all fours till someone lifted me. No one could see me well because I was on the ground. It was a stampede, thousands of people trying to get through that narrow alleyway at the front of the flats.

``I was taken to the first house in Joseph Place. As I was lying there, the Knights of Malta kept coming in and out with other casualties, and fresh reports of what was happening. I heard them saying Hugh Gilmour was shot dead, and then Barney McGuigan going out with a white hanky to someone - no one knew it was Paddy Doherty at the time - and being shot through the head just before he could reach him.

``Afterwards, my whole right side was numb. I couldn't move for a long time, and had to use a walking stick then for ages. The doctors said my insides just wouldn't heal. Nobody in the hospital ever referred to why I had to have all these operations after operations. No one ever said it was because of Bloody Sunday. There was a silence about it.''

Despite all this, Alana says, ``I got off light, compared to some, who are walking around the town even today full of bullets and pain from Bloody Sunday.''

Her mother, Annie Burke, has her own memories of that day: ``I was standing looking at this wee fellow who had been shot, a fair-haired boy, a lovely looking fellow, in William Street. I couldn't stop crying. It seemed like I was there ages before anyone came for him. I just stood crying and crying, and then I went home. I cried all the way up Bishop Street. I couldn't get him out of my mind. Why did he have to die? Then I got to my house and tried to tell them about it. Someone stopped me, and said, `Have you not heard? Alana's in Altnagelvin.' Of course everyone took it to mean the worst. Such was the confusion at the time, Fr Bradley came up to the house and told me that Alana was dead on arrival at Altnagelvin.

``You didn't need to be shot that day to be injured. The entire community was injured by it. And there was nothing for anyone, no counselling, no help offered in dealing with the trauma. To this day, I'll never be the same, never forget it.''

 

Alice and Jim Doherty


Only two gold medals have ever been awarded in Ireland by the Knights of Malta Ambulance Corps, and Alice Doherty was given one for her work on Bloody Sunday.

It wasn't until later, until after the funerals, that she could sit down and think of what she had actually done. ``Days later,'' she recalls, ``Halbridge McFadden told me with a look of pure amazement on his face that I scaled a 6 foot wall at Glenfada Park. I didn't remember doing it, yet I know it's true. I'm only mentioning it because there's so much blocked out. You had to block it out, or you couldn't have gone on.''

Alice has such horrific memories that I couldn't write some of the details. Along with Fr Mulvey, Fr McLaughlin, and Leo Day (in charge of the Order of Malta that day) she was attending the wounded in Shiels's house in Colmcille Court.

After treating John Johnston, more Knights came in with bad news. Alice was called aside by Day. ``You have a white coat,'' he said, ``go around the back of Shiels's to a Saracen there. We hear there are casualties in it.''

Alice recalls, ``I went in, and there were bodies piled in like you see in films of corpses in Auschwicz. The body on the bottom was definitely moving. Fr Mulvey and Leo Day had got up there by this time, and Fr McLaughlin came soon after. We got as far as the Saracen and Fr Mulvey saw shells lying on the ground and said, `Get some of those.' They were dum-dums, split all down the sides. I lifted three of them. The soldier with the rifle saw me and made me give them to him.''

Her husband Jim, also a Knight of Malta and there on the day, describes the scene as ``a killing triangle. You were running out of it only to run into it. They covered all roads, shooting from the Walls, from Rossville Street, William Street, and Glenfada Park.''

Alice gave a detailed statement to the Widgery Tribunal, which was never used.

``They just took what they wanted. The important statements were never used. They didn't use the priests' statements or the statements from the Order of Malta workers.''

Jim remembers Widgery with anger and disgust: ``You knew what happened, and then you saw Widgery. All those lies! All those lies.

``They claimed they were being fired on. Yet they were running into the firing zone, as they claimed it was. Trained soldiers don't run into a firing line. These were the Paras, an elite. The soldier standing there talking to me at the Saracen wouldn't have been standing there if there had been firing. He would have taken cover.''

Alice remembers one Para firing at her. ``He was running and firing from the hip. Trained soldiers just don't do that. Do you know,'' she adds, ``the worst part of that day was the pure hatred in those soldiers' eyes. I've never seen hatred like that in anyone's eyes, before or since. I wondered if they were drugged. They were definitely psyched up. Their eyes were wide open, really vicious, and them running after people, shooting them.''

Jim comments, ``You know, in 23 years of marriage, we've never talked about it until this week. People, including reporters, would ask, `What do you remember about Bloody Sunday?' I'd always say, `not much'. I couldn't talk about it, I would be afraid to say something that would bring pain to the relatives.

``You just couldn't keep thinking about it. I closed the doors on a whole lot of things. The whole town was the same. Everyone was numb until the funerals were over. I think people only realised that this had really happened as the last funerals ended.''

Alice remembers coming home: ``I was sitting in the sitting room. My father hadn't been there. He asked me, `what was going on there? I heard there were people hurt.' I couldn't say anything. I just got up and went into the kitchen to fix the tea. I started crying. I couldn't speak. I gave him his tea and went straight to my bed and cried the whole night.''

She continues, ``People always say the years will put it past you, but it doesn't. Nothing ever will. It took me years to get any way back to normal. You went to your work, but the feeling wasn't there. You just went through the motions. Your body was functioning, but your brain was dead. I was studying at the Tech but I stopped it - I couldn't think at all. And then afterwards, there was so much happening. You just recovered from one thing and then the next thing happened.

``I felt lonely and cut off. I kept asking myself, `How is everyone else coping with this?' You knew you were a group, you'd all been through that day, but you were isolated still. No one wanted to open up, in case it would open the floodgates and bring back the full terror of that day, always afraid to say anything that might

cause the relatives more pain.''

Jim points out ``If Bloody Sunday had happened in England, if it had been Dunblane or something, counsellors and social workers would have been sent in, not just to the families of those killed, and the wounded, but everyone who saw their neighbours cut down like that. No one offered any help. The whole community just had to pick up and go on somehow.''

 

Mickey Bradley


Twenty-five years after being shot on Bloody Sunday, Mickey Bradley, although only 48, is a badly disabled man. Shot in the stomach and arm, he has no power in his left hand or arm. He can't move his thumb more than a quarter of an inch, or close his fingers. His right forearm is locked at the elbow, and he can't raise his left arm. He can't put his socks on, button his shirt or even straighten his tie. Able-bodied people often forget that you need two hands for that.

Soldier O of the 1st Paras made sure that Mickey Bradley, aged 23 and a young married man with 2 children, was effectively left to live his life with only one hand.

Huge dark scars on his forearm mark where the bullets entered his body. A first bullet broke his arm cleanly in two. Another entered his abdomen. He was lucky with those, he says. One bullet, possibly the same one coming out of his abdomen, was deflected by the bone as it entered his forearm and travelled through the arm. It pulled everything with it, doctors told him, causing multiple fractures. As it travelled up his arm to emerge behind his elbow, it left a path of smashed bones, mangled nerves and torn tendons.

Mickey still isn't certain of the precise medical details, only the results. At one stage years later he asked for his medical records to see the extent of his injuries, and all they gave him were the dates he went in for his long series of operations and a short phrase naming each operation (see box).

Without any trace of self-pity, Mickey remarks, ``In many ways the injured are the forgotten people of Bloody Sunday. I'm not trying to take anything from the dead or their families - God knows how they have suffered. But to this day, many people in this town don't realise how our lives changed beyond all recognition as a result of what happened that day. Only our wives or husbands know what we're going through, day in and day out. They know what we're going through, because they are living our nightmares. When I come in after a pint, my wife listens to the cries and sobs. The terror of that day has never left.''

Neither has his anger at the cruel and calculated destruction of young lives. ``I was already settled in life, a married man with two children. Barney McGuigan and one or two of the others were already living their lives. But what about young Jackie Duddy and the rest of them? They were only 17, bits of wains, about to start their lives. Their lives were stolen from them before they had a chance to live.''

Twenty five years on, Bradley knows intimately every detail of that day: which Para was where, where each of the dying and wounded fell, who shot him, who shot the others, and every detail of the many contradictions in the Paras statements, both at the time and to the Widgery Tribunal. Those few minutes of shooting, and their consequences, are a nightmare that has never left. He is heartened to see the latest public interest in Bloody Sunday, Don Mullan's book, and heightened pressure on the British. ``Isn't it only right? This was the largest massacre of civilians by the military anywhere in Europe since the Second World War. The media forgets this. They keep showing all the footage of Enniskillen and never Bloody Sunday. Were we less than human, and the people of Enniskillen human?''

He gives all credit to the relatives who have never forgotten, and struggled for so long on their own. ``What can we say after 25 years that we haven't already said?'' he asks. ``But for myself, personally, I want to see Lt. Col. Derek WIlford, OBE - especially him! - Major General RC Ford, CBE, Brigadier AP MacLellan, MBE, Lt. Col. MC Steele and Lt Col. PM Welsh, up in court on charges. Not the young Para that shot me - I want them, the ones who planned that day and made the decisions and gave the orders at no risk to themselves - in court.''


NIO refuses medical records



The NIO is refusing to release medical records of those injured and killed on Bloody Sunday, even to the injured themselves. They have classified the records for 75 years, banning their release until 2047.

In a statement on Monday 27 January, the NIO said: ``The decision to place a 75 year order on these documents was taken under the privacy classification and because the wounded concerned or relatives were still alive.''

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was murdered, said, ``This concern they are expressing is completely hypocritical. If they were really concerned they would not have put us through everything they have done for the last 25 years. What are they hiding? We would want all the papers relevant to that day released so that the truth can be revealed for all the world to see. In relation to the dead, we already have the autopsy reports, so the relatives would not be concerned about the release of their medical files.''

Mickey Bradley, severely wounded that day, was also incensed. ``Only last week I requested a copy of my files from Altnagelvin, only to be told that there was legislation in force making it unlikely that I would be allowed access to them.'' He added that he had no objections to his medical files relating to Bloody Sunday being made public if it would help uncover the truth of what happened that day.

A local doctor who treated some of those shot that day said that the reports of the wounded are important because they can help verify the accounts of those shot: ``The dead can't speak for themselves but those wounded could recount what happened and their medical reports would verify that.''

Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign spokesperson added. ``This refusal is in keeping with all the other attempts the British government have made to prevent the truth and culpability of that day being known.''

 

Witness for truth




In extracts from Eyewitness Bloody Sunday, Jane Winter describes the atmosphere in the days before Bloody Sunday and Don Mullan considers the mystery surrounding three of those killed that day


The Political Background


A week before the Bloody Sunday demonstration, a smaller anti-internment demonstration had been held outside the internment camp at Magilligan, not far from Derry. This demonstration had been broken up with extreme violence by about 300 soldiers. NICRA was anxious to avoid a repetition, and placed `special emphasis on the necessity for a peaceful incident-free day' on 30 January. According to Ivan Cooper, a Member of Parliament at the time and one of the organisers of the march, assurances had been obtained from the IRA that it would withdraw from the area during the demonstration. The IRA confirmed that this was the case to the Insight team of reporters who published their own analysis of Bloody Sunday.

On 27 January 1972 the Democratic Unionist Association in Derry, in an act of provocation aimed at both nationalists and the Stormont government, announced that its members intended to hold a public religious rally in the Guildhall Square, the intended termination point if the NICRA march, on Sunday 30 January. The Association's Vice-President, the Rev James McClelland, was reported as saying, ``The civil rights march is not legal.''

Theirs (the DUA's), he said, would be. He continued: ``The authorities will have to keep their word and stop the civil rights march and give us protection.''

On 30 January, several newspapers announced that the religious rally had been called off. McClelland was reported as saying on the previous day: ``We were approached by the Government and given assurances that the Civil Rights march would be halted - by force if necessary. We believe wholesale riot and bloodshed could be the result of the Civil Rights activities tomorrow and we would be held responsible if our rally takes place. We have appealed to all loyalists to stay out of the city centre tomorrow.''

Thus the demonstration on Bloody Sunday took place against a background of high political tension and in an atmosphere of the apprehension of violence, which would have been apparent to the security forces as it was to everyone else involved.

Jane Winter
Director
British Irish Rights Watch


Framed


There is an unsolved mystery about the killings of John Young, William Nash and Michael McDaid - who killed them and from where?

There is also something curious and unsettling about their removals from Rossville Street barricade.

All three lay dead and dying on the barricade for fifteen to twenty minutes. No one - absolutely no one, including parents, pastors and paramedics - was allowed to go near them. Alexander Nash, for example, on seeing the fallen body of his son, William, did what any father would do, and ran to his aid. He was shot and lay wounded during that interminable period.

At a coroner's inquest he stated the following: ``I went into Glenfada Park and I heard shouting. I turned back to Rossville Street and as I turned I saw three bodies at a wee barricade across Rossville Street. I identified one of the bodies as that of my son, William Noel Nash. I ran across and put my hand up to stop the shooting so that I could lift my son out of the way. I could see that he was dead. As I was trying to stop the shooting bullets were striking the barricade and I received two bullet wounds. I saw the army put the three bodies in a Saracen and I was left to go to the hospital by ambulance.''

At approximately 4.30pm a Saracen armoured vehicle slowly advanced towards the barricade and all three bodies were manhandled by Paras and dumped `like refuse' into the Saracen.

There were at least four other bodies within sight of the Paras who collected Young, Nash and McDaid from the barricade. While collecting their bodies the Paras would have had sight of Paddy Doherty, Bernard McGuigan and Hugh Gilmore in the forecourt of the Rossville Flats, and Jim Wray and others in Glenfada. They all lay within a 30-yard radius. All of these, as well as Alexander Nash who was beside the bodies at the barricade, were ignored. Why?

The bodies of John Young, Michael McDaid and William Nash were not taken to Altnagelvin Hospital by the British Army until after 6pm. Fr John Irwin, who had managed through persistence to give the Last Rites to the three bodies in the Saracen, saw them later delivered to the hospital mortuary at 6.15 pm. There are questions concerning whether or not young McDaid was actually dead when thrown into the Saracen. There are questions as to why the army took so long to bring these bodies to the hospital and what they were doing with them in the meantime.

The forensic evidence used against Young, Nash and McDaid was very positive. There probably wasn't a hair on their head which wasn't contaminated. It certainly proved that they were in very close proximity to people using guns - the Paras.

For almost a quarter of a century many in Derry have been nursing an anger over the way these innocent young men, and others, were coldly and very deliberately framed. The possibility of their heads and chests being framed in the telescopic sight of a marksman's weapon, high up or near the Walls, had never crossed our minds.

Don Mullan


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

 

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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
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