IRA men testify at Bloody Sunday Inquiry

This week saw former IRA Volunteers give evidence at the Bloody Sunday inquiry into the British Army's massacre of civilians in Derry on January 30, 1972.

On Wednesday, a [Provisional] IRA witness gave evidence from behind a screen to protect his identity. He said that he and a friend had been alerted to the presence of an armed member of the rival `Official IRA' in the Colmcille Court area of the Bogside where the shootings took place.

``I remember feeling angry because my understanding was that both the Provisionals and the Officials had agreed not to take any action on the day of the march. I felt that the presence of a gunman would endanger the lives of people involved in the march.''

The witness said he approached both the gunman and another Official IRA member who were at the top of a staircase after the shot had been fired at soldiers.

``There was a heated exchange of words. I don't recall exactly what was said but I probably used a few choice adjectives. The gist of it was asking him what the hell he was doing firing a rifle with the march going on. The guy who had fired the rifle did not say what he had shot at or whether he had hit anything or anybody.

``At one point I think he pointed the gun into my stomach and threatened to shoot me. I may have had my hand on the gun, I am not sure. He defended his decision to fire a shot by referring to the fact that the army had already shot two people. He said that the army were not going to get away with it, or words to that effect.

Another Provisional IRA witness said he saw the shootings and the bodies of several of the Bloody Sunday victims, including the body of his dying friend, Gerry Donaghy. Mr Donncha MacFicheallaigh said he was not a member of the IRA on Bloody Sunday but the killings were the catalyst for his decision to join the paramilitary group.

Mr MacFicheallaigh said he saw the killing of Jim Wray and William McKinney and the wounding of Joe Mahon and Michael Quinn. He said Mr Quinn was shot as he tried to escape from Glenfada Park.

``He was shot in the face. I think it was his right cheek. I recall seeing his face open up and I saw the workings of his tongue and mouth as he was shot. His blood splattered on my clothing.''

The witness said that minutes later he saw his fatally wounded friend Gerry Donaghy lying on his back in Glenfada Park.

``He was alive when I saw him, but had a bullet wound to his left side which looked singed and bloody. I could see that he was seriously injured. He was having trouble breathing and his lips were stretching back as his teeth protruded,'' he said.

He said he would have seen nail-bombs if Donaghy had been carrying any, and did not believe he woluld have been able to run properly if his pockets contained the devices.

On Tuesday, a former IRA Volunteer has told the Saville Inquiry of how he saw the bodies of many of the victims of the British Army on Bloody Sunday.

William Anderson, who waived his right to anonymity, explained that he was member of the Creggan company of the Provisional IRA, having joined as a 17-year-old shortly after internment the previous year.

He told the inquiry that the first time he had seen anybody shot was on the Saturday prior to 30 January, during a riot in the Bogside, when Peter McLaughlin and Peter Robson had both been shot and wounded by the British Army.

On Bloody Sunday itself, Anderson said he joined the march, at one point helping two rioters light a gas canister which they threw in the direction of the British Army. Shortly after that he saw army vehicles moving in what he thought was ``a pincer movement''. He then ran towards the Rossville Flats, believing he would be safer there as previously the army had not ventured so far into the Bogside.

As he ran through the gap between Blocks 1 and 2, he heard the sound of live rounds being fired for the first time from directly behind him. He eventually found shelter in a flat in Joseph Place and whilst he was in the flat, he said, ``there was still a lot of shooting going on outside and I would not even look out the window''. After some minutes he left the flat and, in a confused state, made his way to Blucher Street, where he saw ``a man with his cheek missing'', believed to be Michael Quinn.

Anderson then went to look for his 14-year-old brother, who had been on the march, but was called into a house where Michael Kelly and Jim Wray had been taken. He then left the house, only to see the bodies of Hugh Gilmore and Barney McGuigan lying where they had been killed. Further along, he says, he saw a further two bodies, but does not know who those victims were.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News