The Journal of History     Winter 2004    TABLE OF CONTENTS

Bloody Sunday soldiers
"jumped out and started firing"

Author unknown
Originally published between March 12th and 14th, 2001

A witness to the Bloody Sunday massacre has told an Inquiry into the killings in Derry 29 years ago that he saw soldiers firing into a crowd of protestors without taking aim.

Neil McLaughlin, who was 24-years- old at the time, said he was present as paratroopers jumped out of a 'pig' [a Saracen armoured vehicle] in waste ground behind Rossville Street in Derry.

The witness said that as the armoured cars arrived in the area on Bloody Sunday he joined others in throwing stones at the vehicles. The response was cold-blooded murder.

"Suddenly soldiers jumped out of the back of the pigs. As soon as they were out they started shooting at us. They did not line up in any organised fashion; they simply jumped out and started firing. There was a continuous burst of gunfire," Mr McLaughlin said.

His immediate reaction was to lie on the ground. He saw Michael Bridge waving his arms as people told him to get down. After more shots rang out, he looked back and saw two people had been shot near him. He later learned one was Mr Bridge and the other was Peggy Deery, both of whom were injured.

"I saw that she (Mrs Deery) had been hit in the right thigh. I remember vividly how her tights were damaged in a very distinctive way," he said.

Another witness, James Rowe, told the inquiry on Tuesday he was sheltering behind a wall at a car park near Derry's Rossville Street when he saw Michael Bradley being shot.

"He was thrown backwards over the wall by the impact and landed on top of me. He cried out that he had been shot. I believe that he was hit in his upper left side," Mr Rowe said.

He stressed the injured man did not have anything in his hands when he landed on top of him.

After the shooting, Mr Rowe said he ran to the front of the Rossville flats where he saw his mother's cousin, Bernard McGuigan.

He saw Mr McGuigan take a number of steps out from the cover of the flats and presumed he was going to a rubble barricade where he had heard there were a number of bodies.

"As he moved, he held out above his head a white handkerchief which he waved. He turned to face the direction of the rubble barricade and I assumed that he was going out to the bodies which I had heard were lying on it.

"At that moment I heard the crack of a high velocity shot and saw Barney's head hit by a bullet. He fell onto his back with his head facing Free Derry Corner and his feet facing William Street," Mr Rowe said.


On Monday, a witness described how he stumbled on the body of murdered teenager Jackie Duddy as he fled from the shooting across a carpark behind the Rossville flats in Derry.

"I think I helped turn the person over, because I thought I would be able to help him to get up and carry on," Mr McDaid said.

"I didn't realise he was dead until he was turned over. He was an awful colour.

"There was a lot of blood around him, and it looked to me as if he was about 30 to 40 years old. I found out many years later that he was Jack Duddy."

The witness said the scene had filled him with so much anger, that he started shouting at the soldiers, who still appeared to be shooting.

Mr McDaid said that as he ran on from the carpark, he became aware of two people running alongside him, one of whom turned out to be Michael Bradley.

As he made his way home, people were shocked, confused and angry, the witness said.

Concluding his evidence, Mr McDaid said violence had been still in its infancy in Derry before Bloody Sunday.

"But after that things changed," he added.

"Rioting actually stopped for a while, because it had become lethal.

"Bloody Sunday was totally different from any previous civilian marches, because it was obvious that the soldiers had decided to teach us a lesson.

"The Paras were like dogs unleashed."


Another witness who saw the shooting of Patrick Doherty said the death broke his heart.

Charles McLaughlin, who was 47 at the time of Bloody Sunday, worked with Mr Doherty at Derry's Du Pont factory. He told day 90 of the Saville inquiry he spoke to Mr Doherty every day at work.

Living in the Rossville flats, Mr McLaughlin said he had a clear view of Joseph Place, where he saw Mr Doherty crawling along the ground.

"He was pulling himself along on his stomach and trailing one of his legs behind him," Mr McLaughlin said.

"I saw a lead bullet strike and bounce off the pavement between the crawling man and the retaining wall to the south of him.

"The bullet then hit this retaining wall. Because of this trajectory, I assumed that the shot had been fired from the direction of Glenfada Park North."

He added: "Then the man who had been crawling clasped his hand up to his right side and said: 'I'm shot again'."

Describing Mr Doherty as a family man, Mr McLaughlin said: "The way he was killed hit me very hard and broke my heart. I was gobsmacked, and from that point onwards I cannot remember anything else."
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The Journal of History - Winter 2004 Copyright © 2004 by News Source, Inc.