Bloody Sunday and the Report of the Widgery Tribunal - Widgery Report and New Material; Points 151-190
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151. The assembly of 10 vehicles containing organised units of soldiers and deploying in a choreographed manner suggests a considerable degree of prior coordination and deliberation. Such a movement was clearly contrary to the Brigade Operation Order, both in the use of vehicles and in the area in which they and the soldiers were deployed. The new material relates that this deployment was carried out at considerable speed and that one of the Saracens "deliberately hit an elderly man". One eyewitness relates that a soldier appeared between the Saracens, without riot gear, firing from his hip, apparently at random.
Para 42. According to Major 736 his orders were simply to go through barrier 12 and arrest as many rioters as possible. As the rioters retreated down Rossville Street he went after them.
Para 43. The leading APC (Lieutenant N) turned left off Rossville Street and halted on the waste ground near to where Eden Place used to be. The second APC (Sergeant O) went somewhat further and halted in the courtyard of the Rossville Flats near the north end of the western (or No 1) Block. The Platoon immediately dismounted. Soldier P and one or two others from Sergeant O's vehicle moved towards Rossville Street but the remainder of the Platoon started to make arrests near to their vehicles.
Para 44. Meanwhile the remainder of Support Company vehicles had halted in Rossville Street. The Company Commander (Major 236) says that his command vehicle came under fire so he moved it with his scout car in attendance to the north end of No 1 Block of the Flats to obtain cover...The Anti-Tank Platoon's vehicles halted behind the 4-ton lorries and the men of that Platoon dismounted and moved to Kells Walk. Some of these men were to appear later in Glenfada Park. The Composite Platoon Commander deployed half of his men to the east in support of the Mortar Platoon, the other half to the west in support of the Anti-Tank Platoon.
Para 45. Thereafter Support Company operated in three areas which require separate examination: the courtyard of the Rossville Flats; Rossville Street from Kells Walk to the improvised barricade; and lastly the area of Glenfada Park and Abbey Park.
152. This account is not subject to any comment by Lord Widgery and is presented as a straight narrative. In its economy of the truth, it is a highly misleading account. Lord Widgery's flat statement that the soldiers "started to make arrests" does not convey the nature of their arrival, an important factor which explains why the crowd reacted in panic and attempted to flee. The civilian eyewitnesses are at one on the exceptional and frightening degree of aggression and brutality deployed. The following selection is illustrative:
- A boy was running away from them and a soldier went down on one knee and fired his rifle and the boy pitched forward. There was a large amount of blood around him. I then saw three soldiers beating a man with batons.(Isabelle Duffy)
- Two soldiers came down Rossville Street with a man in a black suit - half walking and half dragged, receiving blows from the muzzle of the soldier's gun and the butt of the other soldier's gun. When they got behind the Saracens, I saw him struck on the body and fall. Whilst on the ground, I saw him kicked by two other soldiers. They lifted him and threw him bodily into the Saracen...[Another] young boy appeared to be pleading with him [a Para]....The paratrooper [a second one] ran back behind the boy and hit him on the back of the head with the butt of his rifle...as he marched him to the Saracen kept hitting him with the muzzle of the gun....I saw a soldier in a kneeling position, firing straight up Rossville Street towards the barricade. He seemed to have fired a full magazine ....(Tony D.)
- One Saracen knocked a man on the ground and a soldier jumped out. He kept the man on the ground by battering him with the butt of his rifle and another soldier shot at this man from very close range. Then the soldiers seemed to go berserk and were shooting everywhere. Women and children were running for cover, screaming. (Agnes Hume)
153. Furthermore, Lord Widgery does not challenge Major 236's claim that he was fired on. By Lord Widgery's own measure, who fired first was considered to be "vital" and "probably the most important single issue which I have been required to determine." Yet he failed to deal in this narrative with the warning shots which Lt. N, leading the mortar platoon which was the first to debus in Rossville Street, claimed to have fired before he heard any other shots. Indeed, Lord Widgery did not even refer to this event in paragraph 43 despite its obvious relevance. As Prof. Walsh points out, "the Tribunal ignored the strong possibility that these shots were the first fired on Rossville Street when making its determination on who fired first." In short, these paragraphs are an inaccurate and misleading account of "Support Company in Action".
(a) The activities of Mortar Platoon in the courtyard of the Rossville Flats
Para 46. As soon as the vehicles appeared in William Street the crowd on the waste ground began to run away to the south and was augmented by many other people driven out of Chamberlain Street by C Company.....The crowd ran not because they thought the soldiers would open fire upon them but because they feared arrest. Though there was complete confidence that the soldiers would not fire unless fired upon, experienced citizens like Father Daly recognised that an arrest operation was in progress and wished to avoid the rubber bullets and rough handling which this might involve. One of the photographs taken by Mr Tucker from his home in the central block of the Rossville Flats shows clearly what was happening at this stage. However, careful study of the photograph (EP28/5)shows that many of the crowd remained under cover in the doorways of the Flats or remained facing the vehicles to see how far they would come.
154. On the face of it, this paragraph was an astonishingly confident assertion of what motivated the crowd (which he had described as mixed) i.e. fear of arrest and rough handling combined with "complete confidence" that the soldiers would not fire unless fired upon. The new material, particularly the eyewitness statements and the Para AA document, undermines this assertion. They demonstrate forcefully the sense of fear and panic which seized most civilians present with the arrival of the Paras and the soldiers' immediately aggressive behaviour, followed so rapidly by the use of live ammunition. Lord Widgery's characterisation of those seeking cover in order to adjudge how far the Paras would advance is a travesty of what was actually going on - civilians fleeing the Paras and then attempting to seek cover from the fire directed into their midst.
Para 47. The APCs of Mortar Platoon penetrated more deeply than was expected by the crowd, which caused some panic....As soon as the vehicles halted the soldiers of Mortar Platoon began to make arrests....But within a minute or two firing broke out and within about the next 10 minutes the soldiers of Mortar Platoon had fired 42 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition and one casualty (John Duddy) lay dead in the courtyard.
Para 48. This action in the courtyard is of special importance for two reasons. The first shots-other than those in William Street referred to in paragraphs 35 to 38-were fired here. Their sound must have caused other soldiers to believe that Support Company was under attack and made them more ready than they would otherwise have been to identify gunmen amongst the crowd. Secondly, the shooting by the Mortar Platoon in the courtyard was one of the incidents invoked by those who have accused the Army of firing indiscriminately on the backs of a fleeing crowd.
Para 49. I have heard a great deal of evidence from civilians, including pressmen, who were in the crowd in the courtyard, almost all to the effect that the troops did not come under attack but opened fire without provocation. The Army case is that as soon as they began to make arrests they themselves came under fire and their own shooting consisted of aimed shots at gunmen and bomb throwers who were attacking them. This issue, sometimes referred to as "Who fired first?", is probably the most important single issue which I have been required to determine.
155. Having thus established the contending version of events in the courtyard, Lord Widgery then presented in paragraph 50 "a representative sample" of six civilian versions in summary form of what they witnessed. In themselves, these stand in startling contrast to the narrative offered earlier by Lord Widgery (paragraphs 41-45). He then offers evidence from the Army side, eight examples in all. Before considering them in detail, it is worth recalling Prof. Walsh's comment that the overall account provided by the soldiers lacks credibility. Prof. Walsh has identified a whole catalogue of discrepancies and alterations in the statements offered by the soldiers which further undermine the reliability of the statements offered by the soldiers to the Tribunal - statements, it should be remembered, by those implicated in the deaths of unarmed civilians. None of these alterations and discrepancies - which had the effect of making their statements safe from possible prosecution and aligning them to one another - were revealed in the course of the Inquiry or to the Counsel for the next of kin.
156. The soldiers alleged that they came under sustained gun and bomb attack. Yet these supposed IRA attacks did not inflict casualties on the civilians milling about. Nor were civilians or journalists aware of the activities of these gunmen and bombers; they neither saw nor heard them. Only soldiers were apparently able to detect them though they, like the civilians and journalists, were able to remain completely immune from any injury. Despite the alleged intensity of hostile fire, the soldiers continued to operate in the open and to advance. None of the accounts given by the soldiers were supported by non-military witnesses. No evidence corroborating their claims of hitting gunmen or bombers was discovered. The dead and wounded did not match the soldiers' versions of whom they shot at and where. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from all of this is that the accounts provided by the soldiers were fiction.
157. It might also be noted that by presenting two sets of statements as if they were equally valid and representing equally valuable versions of the same events is not only clearly unreal given the diametrically opposed descriptions offered, but is now revealed by the new material to be inherently unbalanced since one group was demonstrably unreliable. It is the implicated group which is revealed as having changed and sought to match their versions. This whole exercise, as presented by Lord Widgery, is now shown to have been based on a fundamentally unsound premise that the soldiers were "telling the truth as they saw it". It appears that the Tribunal was well aware that this was the case but concealed it from the public and the Counsel for the next of kin. That the Tribunal never revealed this to the Counsel for the next of kin completely undermined the validity of the cross-examination process. The revelations provided by the archive material and Prof. Walsh's analysis of it means that, on this basis alone, the Widgery Report stands fundamentally flawed. Moreover, this portion of the Report graphically illustrates the failure of Lord Widgery to invoke ballistic, forensic or medical evidence to determine the veracity of the contending accounts.
(i) Major 236....said that as he and his driver dismounted a burst of about 15 rounds of low velocity fire came towards them from the direction of Rossville Flats....He saw seven or eight members of the Mortar Platoon firing aimed shots towards the Flats but he could not see what they were firing at. He said that these soldiers were under fire.
158. There is no convincing and clear independent, non-military corroboration of this claim. The statements of the civilian eyewitnesses are very consistent on the point that no civilian gunfire as described by Major 236 took place.
(ii) Lieutenant N.... moved towards Chamberlain Street where he was faced by a hostile crowd and fired a total of three shots above their heads in order to disperse them....He then fired one further round at a man whom he thought was throwing a nail bomb in the direction of Sergeant O's vehicle.
159. Prof. Walsh makes a number of points in regard to these "warning shots", particularly the failure by the Tribunal to consider whether Lt. N was justified in firing shots in the first place. Lord Widgery simply did not consider Lt.N's claim to have wounded a nail bomber since he had decided not to examine all of the wounded cases. Prof. Walsh has also uncovered from the archives that Lt. N changed the sequence of his shots in the version offered to the Tribunal to that initially given to the Military Police and made another change to align his version with the facts or with statements by other soldiers. These discrepancies were not revealed in the course of the Inquiry and were not referred to by Lord Widgery, despite their obvious significance.
(iii) Sergeant O....said that he and his men began to make arrests but were met with fire from the Rossville Flats. He thought that the fire came from four or five sources and possibly included some high velocity weapons. He saw the strike of bullets four or five metres from one of the members of his Platoon. He and his men returned to his APC to secure their prisoners and then spread out in firing positions to engage those who had fired upon them. Sergeant O fired three rounds at a man firing a pistol from behind a car parked in the courtyard. The man fell and was carried away. He fired a further three rounds at a man standing at first floor level on the cat-walk connecting Blocks 2 and 3, who was firing a fairly short weapon like an M1 carbine. The flashes at the muzzle were visible. Sergeant O caught a glimpse of Soldier S firing at a man with a similar weapon but his view was obscured by people "milling about". The Sergeant returned to his vehicle, but later fired two more rounds at a man whom he said was firing an MI carbine from an alleyway between Blocks 2 and 3. He later saw Soldier T splashed with acid and told him that if further acid bombs were thrown he should return fire. He heard Soldier T fire two rounds and saw another acid bomb which had fallen. Sergeant O described the firing from the Flats as the most intense that he had seen in Northern Ireland in such a short space of time.
160. Lord Widgery himself dismissed soldier O's account of the intensity of hostile fire. Prof. Walsh has uncovered six major discrepancies between his evidence to the Tribunal and his original statement, including in regard to the intensity of fire, the number of shots he fired, whether he saw the body of the gunman being dragged away and the number of acid bombs he claimed to have seen thrown.
(iv) Private Q, after dismounting from his vehicle, was being stoned and so took cover at the end of Block 1 of the Rossville Flats. There he heard four or five low velocity shots, that is to say shots fired by someone other than the Army, though he could not say from what direction. Shortly afterwards he saw a man throwing nail bombs, two of which simply rolled away whilst another one exploded near to the houses backing on to Chamberlain Street. He shot at and hit the man as he was in the act of throwing another nail bomb. That bomb did not explode and the man's body was dragged away.
161. Prof. Walsh identifies two major discrepancies arising from soldier Q's original statement: he changes the direction in which the nail bombs were thrown (Walsh speculates because the original target as claimed would have been beyond range) and the number thrown (from one to several).
(v) Private R heard one or two explosions like small bombs from the back of Rossville Flats. He also heard firing of high and low calibre weapons. He noticed a man about 30 yards along the eastern side of Block 1, who made as if to throw a smoking object, whereupon Private R fired at him. He thought he hit him high up on the shoulder, but was not certain what happened to the man because he was at that moment himself struck on the leg by an acid bomb thrown from an upper window in the Flats. A few moments later R saw a hand firing a pistol from the alleyway between Blocks 2 and 3. R fired three times, but did not know whether he made a hit.
162. Prof. Walsh identifies five substantial discrepancies between R's original statement and his account to the Treasury Solicitors and the Inquiry, including differences in his version of the actions of soldiers O and T.
(vi) Private S said that he came under fire as soon as he dismounted from his vehicle. The fire was fairly rapid single shots, from the area of the Rossville Flats. He dodged across to the back of one of the houses in Chamberlain Street, from which position he saw a hail of bottles coming down from the Flats onto one of the armoured vehicles and the soldiers around it. He fired a total of 12 shots at a gunman or gunmen who appeared, or reappeared, in front of the alleyway between Blocks 1 and 2 of the Flats. The gunman was firing what he thought was an M1 carbine. He thought that he scored two hits.
163. Prof. Walsh identifies a series of major discrepancies and alterations in the various statements made by soldier S. While all of them are significant, the most striking is the fact that in his original statement he made no mention of coming under fire immediately upon debussing. Also in his original statement, soldier S claimed that the crowd opened to reveal a gunman and closed when he returned fire. This choreographed ballet between the crowd, the gunman and the soldier, the original statement claimed, repeated itself four times. This surreal and unbelievable image was not repeated in evidence.
(vii) Private T heard a burst of fire, possibly from a semi-automatic rifle being fired very quickly, about 30 to 45 seconds after dismounting from his vehicle. It came from somewhere inside the area of the Rossville Flats. He was splashed on the legs by acid from an acid bomb and noticed a person throwing acid bombs about three storeys up in the Flats. On the orders of his Sergeant he fired two rounds at the acid bomb thrower. He thought that he did not score a hit.
164. Prof. Walsh reveals that soldier T, contrary to his evidence to the Inquiry, did not claim to have come under fire when he debussed in his original statement. He also changed the moment he fired at the alleged acid bomber from "before" to "after" the second acid bomb was thrown.
(viii) Lance Corporal V heard two explosions, not baton rounds or rifle fire, before his vehicle stopped. As soon as he jumped out he heard rifle fire and saw several shots spurting into the ground to his right. He thought that this fire was coming from the alleyway between Blocks 1 and 2 of the Rossville Flats. He saw a crowd of about 100 towards the end of Chamberlain Street who were throwing stones and bricks. Corporal V moved further forward and shot at and hit a man about 50 or 60 yards away from him in the act of throwing a bottle with a fuse attached to it.
165. Prof. Walsh identifies four significant differences between his original statement and the evidence he offered subsequently. The key difference concerns when he fired at the alleged nail bomber. In his original statement, he claimed to have fired after the bomb had landed and failed to explode. He changed this to firing when the nail bomber was about to throw. As Prof. Walsh notes, on the basis of the original version, "there are grounds for charging V with murder or attempted murder depending on whether this target was killed or not." This becomes moot because, as Walsh states, "the circumstances of the shooting and the description of the victim as given by V could not be matched up with any of the casualties." As Walsh concludes, "it would be difficult to place much trust in V's evidence."
Para 52. A number of soldiers other than those of 1 Para gave evidence about the opening of fire....Captain 028, a Royal Artillery officer attached to 1 Para as a Press Officer saw the leading vehicle struck by a round before it came to a halt and saw a man open fire with a sub-machine gun from the barricade as the soldiers jumped out of their vehicles......Lieutenant 227 of the Royal Artillery, who was in command of an observation post on the City Walls, heard two bursts of automatic fire from the Glenfada Park area after the arrest operation had begun and before he had heard any other sort of ball ammunition.....Gunner 030, who was in a slightly different position on the City Walls, saw a youth fire five or six shots with a pistol....This was before 030 heard any fire from the Paras. Later on he heard a burst of automatic fire and saw a man with a machine gun running in Glenfada Park.
Para 53. There was also a considerable body of civilian evidence about the presence of gunmen in the Bogside that afternoon, including some to the effect that they were the first to open fire. Father Daly saw a man armed with a pistol fire two or three shots at the soldiers from the south end of Chamberlain Street...... Mr Phillips, Mr Seymour, Mr Wilkinson and Mr Hammond, members of an Independent Television News team, who also went through the William Street barrier behind the Paras, all heard machine gun fire as the soldiers went across the open space. They also heard single shots but were not unanimous as to whether or not the automatic fire came first. It has been established that the troops did not use automatic weapons. So though the ITN men were not able to throw much light on the question of who fired first, their evidence did add considerable weight to the probability that the soldiers were fired on very soon after getting out of their vehicles......
166. In claiming that civilian gunmen were present and active, Lord Widgery failed to make convincing connections between those claims and the actions of the individual soldiers who killed or wounded 27 civilians that day. The eyewitness statements provide clear and consistent accounts that 1 Para were the first to open fire and that they were not met with any sustained or significant return fire. As Prof. Dash makes clear from his study of the testimony, three officers in the midst of this supposed hostile fire did not claim to have encountered heavy civilian fire, including Lt. Col. Wilford as he walked among his men.
167. That is not to say that a low velocity weapon was not fired in the course of the afternoon. However, it cannot be ascertained definitively if that was the case or who was responsible. For example, civilian eyewitness John Gorman, who had served with the Enniskillen Fusiliers for nine years, had testified at the Tribunal and stated categorically that the British Army scout car's Browning machine gun opened fire. He had made this point in his statement to the NICRA/NCCL saying that "the whippet car opened fire - this was automatic fire from a Browning machine gun." According to Lord Widgery, Support Company "was equipped that day with a Browning machine gun on a Ferret scout car." But he goes on to assert that "no Browning or submachine gun ammunition had been used." In any event, if there was any civilian gunfire, it did not result in one single injury to a member of the security forces.
Para 54. To those who seek to apportion responsibility for the events of 30 January the question "Who fired first?" is vital. I am entirely satisfied that the first firing in the courtyard was directed at the soldiers. Such a conclusion is not reached by counting heads or by selecting one particular witness as truthful in preference to another. It is a conclusion gradually built up over many days of listening to evidence and watching the demeanour of witnesses under cross-examination .... Notwithstanding the opinion of Sergeant O I do not think that the initial firing from the Flats was particularly heavy and much of it may have been ill-directed fire from pistols and like weapons. The soldiers' response was immediate and members of the crowd running away in fear at the soldiers' presence understandably might fail to appreciate that the initial bursts had come from the direction of the Flats. The photographs already referred to in paragraph 47 confirm that the soldiers' initial action was to make arrests and there was no reason why they should have suddenly desisted and begun to shoot unless they had come under fire themselves. If the soldiers are wrong they were parties in a lying conspiracy which must have come to light in the rigorous cross-examination to which they were subjected.
168. The new material is particularly relevant on two counts in this instance. Firstly, in helping to demonstrate that the soldiers were in fact the first to open fire, it undermines completely Lord Widgery's assertion that without hostile civilian fire there was no reason for 1 Para to open fire. As McMahon points out, there is an inherent logical contradiction in Lord Widgery's assertions here; since one possible accusation against the soldiers was that they acted unreasonably, it is nonsense to argue that they did not open fire because it would have been unreasonable to do so. This highlights Lord Widgery's failure to determine why in fact the Paras opened fire without justification. Only further material from official sources can throw light on the extraordinary and as yet inexplicable behaviour of the soldiers.
169. Secondly, the new material, in particular the work of Prof. Walsh, demonstrates that the soldiers, in being "wrong" as Lord Widgery puts it, were in fact lying. Most damning of all, the Widgery Tribunal was aware that inconsistencies and discrepancies existed in the soldiers' statements and concealed this fully from the Counsel for the next of kin. In doing so, the soldiers and the Tribunal deliberately undermined the cross-examination process and made it impossible for the Counsel for the next of kin to establish the pattern of alterations made by the soldiers which have now been revealed by Prof. Walsh. Had it been possible to establish this pattern, Lord Widgery would have had considerable difficulty in judging the soldiers to be credible witnesses and, consequently, would have found it difficult to accept their version of events.
170. The new material therefore reveals that the Widgery Tribunal accepted accounts known to it to be unreliable of what happened in the courtyard of Rossville Flats. Lord Widgery's exoneration of the soldiers stands therefore as wholly and completely unwarranted. Had he chosen to accept the version offered by the civilian eyewitnesses, he would have had little option but to determine that the deaths and injuries brought about by the deliberate acts of the soldiers were unprovoked and wholly unjustified.
171. Since the cross-examination process had been undermined, it was unlikely that "a lying conspiracy" would have been uncovered. Moreover, as McMahon points out, it was not logical to suggest that if the soldiers were "wrong", they would have had to have been parties to conspiracy. McMahon writes "according to Lord Widgery the civilians were wrong, but he makes no attempt to claim either that they were in a conspiracy or that such a conspiracy must have come to light in the course of cross-examination". He concludes on this point that "from a logical point of view the criterion of truth is arbitrarily selected, is applied only to one set of evidence, and in no circumstances does it produce the conclusion attempted."
(b) The Action in Rossville Street
Para 55. When the vehicle convoy halted in Rossville Street the Anti-Tank Platoon and one half of the Composite Platoon deployed to their right in the vicinity of the flats known as Kells Walk..... a considerable number of rounds was fired from Kells Walk in the direction of the barricade, at which at least four of the fatal casualties occurred.
Para 56. It will be remembered that when the vehicles entered Rossville Street a densely packed crowd of perhaps 500 people was already assembled round the speakers' platform at Free Derry Corner and that the arrival of the soldiers caused some of the crowd on the waste ground also to run towards Free Derry Corner.
Para 57. Perhaps the most ugly of all the allegations made against the Army is that the soldiers at Kells Walk fired indiscriminately on a large and panic-stricken crowd which was seeking to escape over the barricade. ..... Mr Chapman... maintained ..... that the Army fired indiscriminately upon the backs of that number of people who were scrambling over the barricade in an effort to escape and that no firearms or bombs were being used against the soldiers at that time.
Para 58. Mr Robert Campbell, the Assistant Chief Constable of the Renfrew and Bute Constabulary, who was observing the scene from the City Wall, gave a very different account of events at the barricade...... Father O'Keefe ..... gave a version of this incident which supported Mr Campbell rather than Mr Chapman.....Further, the pathologist's evidence about the four young men who were casualties at the barricade, namely Kelly, Young, Nash and McDaid, was that they were not shot from behind.
172. The deaths of eight individuals occurred in Rossville Street close to the barricade. Lord Widgery devoted only four paragraphs to describing the scene there. Yet the bulk of the texts of these paragraphs were devoted to a consideration of the accounts given by Chapman, O'Keefe and Campbell and what they said about the nature of the crowd at the barricade. Campbell, by Lord Widgery's own admission, could not see the entry of 1 Para and could only see part of the Rossville Street barricade. Moreover, he only claimed to have heard low velocity shots. There was no attempt, as there was in dealing with the Rossville Flats courtyard, to provide a narrative of the movements, intentions,beliefs and actions of the soldiers. The new material reinforces the fact that there was considerable evidence available to provide a detailed account of how so many met their end here. This was, after all, the remit of the Inquiry. Yet inexplicably, Lord Widgery failed to make use of that evidence. Its emergence, or rather re-emergence, now reveals the appalling inadequacy of Widgery's treatment of the events in Rossville Street.
173. It should also be noted that Lord Widgery's failure to consider the possibility that shots were fired from the vicinity of Derry Walls was not only an omission but caused him to misrepresent the significance of the pathologist's evidence that Kelly, Young, Nash and McDaid were not shot from behind i.e. not by the soldiers in Rossville Street. On this basis, Lord Widgery was satisfied that the soldiers did not fire on the backs of a fleeing crowd. Yet it is clear that they did so in other cases, such as that of Kevin McElhinney and Paddy Doherty. He is implying that those shot from the front were facing the soldiers toward Kells Walk and were throwing missiles. The new material indicates that they - or certainly three of them - were facing away from the soldiers advancing toward them and were in fact moving in the general direction of Free Derry Corner when they were hit by British Army snipers from the vicinity of Derry Walls.
Para. 59. I am entirely satisfied that when the soldiers first fired at the barricade they did not do so on the backs of a fleeing crowd but at a time when some 30 people, many of whom were young men who were or had been throwing missiles, were standing in the vicinity of the barricade.
174. The Mullan thesis that at least three of those killed on the barricade were hit by British Army fire from elevated positions in the vicinity of Derry Walls is firmly grounded in the new material, including the civilian eyewitness statements, the expert opinion of Robert Breglio, the conclusions of Dr. Raymond McClean, the judgement of Dr. Hugh Thomas and the statements made by a number of individuals (one claiming to have been a British soldier on duty on the Walls that day in the course of reports broadcast by Channel Four). In light of this, Lord Widgery's views on the circumstances of how Nash, Young and McDaid met their end must now be set aside.
Para 61. Having dealt with the allegations of a general character made against the conduct of 1 Para on 30 January I turn to consider the conduct of the individual soldiers who fired and the circumstances in which the individual civilians were killed.
Para 62. The starting point of this part of the Inquiry is that 108 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition were expended by members of Support Company. The Browning gun on the Company Commander's scout car was not fired nor were the three sub-machine guns. No shots were fired by the other Companies of 1 Para. I have no means of deciding which soldiers fired or how many rounds each fired except the evidence of the soldiers themselves..... The Army case is that each of these shots was an aimed shot fired at a civilian holding or using a bomb or firearm. On the other side it was argued that none of the deceased was using a bomb or firearm and that the soldiers fired without justification and either deliberately or recklessly.
175. The new material, particularly the research undertaken by Prof. Walsh and the Para AA statement in addition to the eyewitness statements on the intensity of fire, render Lord Widgery's conclusions on the use of ammunition not only unreliable but misleading.
Para. 63. To solve this conflict [whether the victims were using weapons and whether the soldiers fired with justification] it is necessary to identify the particular shot which killed each deceased and the soldier who fired it. It is then necessary to consider the justification put forward by the soldier for firing and whether the deceased was in fact using a firearm or bomb. It has proved impossible to reach conclusions with this degree of particularity.
176. Lord Widgery omitted an obvious point that the circumstances in which the victims were killed or wounded could have been clarified by testing the reliability of eyewitnesses, by determining the degree of corroboration and by fully exploring the import of the evidence presented by ballistics, medical and forensic experts. The new material magnifies Lord Widgery's failure to have done so despite the availability of evidence and witnesses, some of whom claimed to have been able to identify individual soldiers.
a. Were the Deceased Carrying Firearms or Bombs?
Para 65. Although a number of soldiers spoke of actually seeing firearms or bombs in the hands of civilians none was recovered by the Army. None of the many photographs shows a civilian holding an object that can with certainty be identified as a firearm or bomb. No casualties were suffered by the soldiers from firearms or gelignite bombs. In relation to every one of the deceased there were eye witnesses who said that they saw no bomb or firearm in his hands.
177. The new material strongly supports and corroborates the points made here. It might be added that none of the wounded were identified as having been armed, nor were any of the dozens arrested on the day.
Para 68. According to the expert evidence of Dr Martin of the Northern Ireland Department of Industrial and Forensic Science and Professor Keith Simpson a concentration of minute particles on the hand creates a "strong suspicion" that the subject has been firing.
178. Prof. Dash very effectively repudiated the reliability of Dr. Martin's forensic evidence. Any inferences drawn from it can be discounted. The eyewitness statements about the treatment of the dead help to substantiate the concerns expressed by Prof. Dash about accidental or deliberate contamination by the authorities.
The Deceased Considered Individually
John Francis Duddy
Para 69. Age 17. He was probably the first fatal casualty and fell in the courtyard of Rossville Flats. (Mr Grimaldi's photographs EP 26/12, 13 and 14.) As already recounted (paragraph 50(I)) he was seen to fall by Father Daly. Mrs Bonnor and Mrs Duffy both spoke of seeing a soldier fire at him. According to Mrs Bonnor he was shot in the back. In fact the bullet entered his right shoulder and travelled through his body from right to left. As he ran he turned from time to time to watch the soldiers. This fits in with Father Daly having overtaken him while running and explains the entry wound being in his side. No shot described by a soldier precisely fits Duddy's case. The nearest is one described by Soldier V who spoke of firing at a man in a white shirt in the act of throwing a petrol bomb, but Duddy was wearing a red shirt and there is no evidence of his having a bomb. His reaction to the paraffin test was negative. I accept that Duddy was not carrying a bomb or firearm. The probable explanation of his death is that he was hit by a bullet intended for someone else.
179. Four civilians testified to the Widgery Tribunal that they had witnessed the killing of John "Jackie" Duddy - Father Daly, Mrs. Bonnor, Mrs. Duffy and Mr. Tucker. Mr. Tucker, an ex-serviceman, was not permitted to testify on the details of what he saw because Lord Widgery took the view that he had already heard enough about the incident from the other three witnesses. In his finding, Lord Widgery in effect rationalised the account of Fr. Daly by reference to the last movements of Jackie Duddy. He singularly failed to do this with regard to Mrs Duffy's, Mr Tucker's and Mrs Bonnor's evidence, despite drawing special attention to the latter's statement. Mrs Bonnor perceived that Duddy was shot in the back but Lord Widgery, having made reference to this, should have set her account in the proper context - for example, that she witnessed the shooting from the second floor of Rossville Flats and that the crowd which included Duddy was running towards those flats at the moment of the shooting i.e. he was not facing the soldiers. Even had Duddy been facing the soldiers, the point would have been moot since he was unarmed. Nor did Lord Widgery make any reference to Mrs Bonnor's claim that the soldier who shot Duddy fired from the waist. It is not possible to fire carefully aimed shots, as all the soldiers had claimed, from the waist. Such casual use of live ammunition, attested to by many witnesses, would have been singularly incompatible with Lord Widgery's endorsement of the testimony of the soldiers.
180. The following accounts regarding what happened in the Rossville Flats courtyard, specifically how Jackie Duddy was shot dead, are drawn from those assembled by the Government in 1972;
- ... Two Saracens came rushing up Rossville St. and into the car park and the soldiers jumped out. One of them got down and started shooting from beside the Saracen... One boy (about 16) in the middle of the car park was hit in the back while running away and fell down. He wasn't carrying anything....
- ... Two Saracens turned into the car park of the Flats from Rossville St... The Saracens stopped... One soldier ran to the front nearside wheel and took up a firing position. Another ran to the wall at the backs of the Chamberlain St. houses and started pushing people with his rifle ... The soldier at the nearside front wheel of the Saracen started firing and I saw a man fall to the ground... the shot which that soldier fired was the first shot I heard that day. Shooting continued and I saw two other men shot in the car park. The first of these was roughly in the middle of the car park with his hands raised in the air. He appeared to be shot in the leg as he suddenly grasped his right leg with his right arm and hopped into the top corner of the car park where the kiddies' play area is... At no time did I see any of the above-mentioned men with weapons of any sort in their hands.... At no time did I see or hear nail bombs or petrol bombs being used, nor did I see any gunmen in or near the Flats.
- ... No shooting was coming from the flats. I was standing beside them and could not have failed to hear it. No petrol or nail bombs were thrown or again I could not have failed to hear them...
- ... The three armoured cars came across Rossville Street and two of them came to a halt at the gable end of the Rossville Street flats (William Street end). The third car drove past these two and entered the car park driving straight towards the people who were running in every direction trying to escape. One man was knocked down by this car. As the man was attempting to rise, a soldier ran from the back of the car which was now stationary and raised his rifle in an attempt to strike the man with the rifle butt. A youth dashed forward and grabbed the soldier around the neck and held him until the injured man escaped. The youth ran off into the crowd. The soldier raised his rifle, took deliberate aim and fired. The soldier, I thought, aimed between the Rossville Street block and Joseph Place. The crowd fell back and I saw a man lying on the ground, about four or five yards from the spot where the soldier was standing after having fired the shot. I had not seen anyone fire at the soldier nor had I heard any shooting. There were no explosions. Several people came forward to help the man lying on the ground and a youth walked towards the armoured car with his hands raised above his head. A soldier came round from behind the car, raised his rifle and shot the young man, who turned and limped [off] helped away holding his leg....
- .... I was in Chamberlain Street..... As I entered the back of the High Flats in Rossville Street, a Saracen stopped and two soldiers leaped from it. One got down on one knee and fired at least six rounds into the fleeing crowd. The other one fired at least eight rounds. I passed the body of one dead or seriously injured youth lying in the middle of the tarmac. I saw a youth whom I have since learned to be named Michael Bridge show himself in front of the troops and shout "you killed my mate now shoot me". About a second later when I looked from my hiding place I saw Michael fall, shot and injured. At no time did I see anyone fire at the troops... and I as an ex-service man would not have believed it if I had not seen it with my own eyes.
181. These statements are representative of the many eyewitnesses available at the time. They are remarkably consistent, including with statements published by Mullan. There were no nail or petrol bombs, much less hostile civilian fire. The soldiers immediately assumed firing positions. Duddy and Bridge were unarmed. The statements provide a clear foundation for attempting to identify the two soldiers (one at the nearside front wheel of the lead Saracen) involved in the death of Jackie Duddy and the wounding of Michael Bridge. Bridge, since he was only wounded, was never called to give evidence despite the incontrovertible fact, evidenced by his wound, that he was both a victim and a witness. These accounts corroborate the other eyewitness statements as published and provide clear and credible grounds for believing that Jackie Duddy was hit and killed without justification while fleeing with a deliberate shot and that Bridge was deliberately shot while protesting the shooting of Duddy.
182. Lord Widgery's reference to soldier V's description of his target as the "nearest" to Duddy was plainly ludicrous, even on first sight: a white shirt is not a red shirt. Further, Prof. Walsh has identified substantive changes to the accounts originally given by soldier V which render unreliable his testimony and which, if they had not been made, might have left V open to criminal charges. Clearly, the soldier who aimed at and shot Duddy had concealed this act. So too did the soldier who shot Bridge as he protested, hands aloft. Had Lord Widgery stated this obvious point in regard to every incident involving a civilian death or wounding (all of which failed to be corroborated in any account by the soldiers), it would have made a mockery of the well honed, but what now seems certain, fanciful accounts which were presented to the Inquiry by the implicated soldiers. Lord Widgery's conclusion that the shot which killed Duddy was intended for someone else was perverse and stands comprehensively contradicted.
Patrick Joseph Doherty
Para 70. Age 31. His body was found in the area at the rear of No 2 Block of Rossville Flats between that Block and Joseph Place. His last moments are depicted in a remarkable series of photographs taken by Mr Peress which show him with a handkerchief over the lower part of his face crawling with others near the alleyway which separates No 2 Block from No 3. (EP 25/7, 8, 9, 11 and 12.) He was certainly hit from behind whilst crawling or crouching because the bullet entered his buttock and proceeded through his body almost parallel to the spine. There is some doubt as to whether he was shot when in the alleyway or at the point where his body was found. On the whole I prefer the latter conclusion. If this is so the probability is that he was shot by Soldier F, who spoke of hearing pistol shots and seeing a crouching man firing a pistol from the position where Doherty's body was found. Soldier F said that he fired as the man turned away, which would account for an entry wound in the buttock. Doherty's reaction to the paraffin test was negative. In the light of all the evidence I conclude that he was not carrying a weapon. If Soldier F shot Doherty in the belief that he had a pistol that belief was mistaken.
183. The following are two extracts from the statements collated by the Government in 1972 regarding the death of Patrick Doherty.
- ... I could see into Fahan Street car park, the maisonettes and Joseph Place.... a man started to crawl from right beneath my window across to the alleyway. He reached halfway, when a shot rang out, his right leg kicked out and he lay still. This man I now know to be Patrick Doherty.... At no time did I see or hear nail bombs or petrol bombs being used, nor did I see any gunmen in or near the Flats.
- I saw three people shot - one of them later died - his name was Patrick Doherty. The first man I saw shot was in the courtyard of the flats - he was unarmed and was shot in the leg... The second person I saw being shot was Patrick Doherty. He was unarmed and was crawling across the courtyard in front of the flats towards the alleyway at Joseph Place. He was two-thirds of the way across when he was shot on the right side of the chest. The soldier who shot him was positioned at the entrance to Glenfada Park. At the time Mr. Doherty was shot,.. the rioting had stopped and the people had dispersed.... a man... went to his aid. He was in the process of dragging him from the line of fire when he was shot in the leg....
184. Charles McLaughlin's account as published by Mullan is particularly compelling:
- I looked out of my window. I saw a man lying on his stomach. He was lying parallel with the front of the flats. He was facing Fahan Street. He started to crawl on his stomach heading for the alley behind Joseph Place. He was trailing his left leg. I shouted to him not to go across or they would shoot him. He kept moving and I shouted again, 'For God's sake don't go across or they will shoot you.' At that stage they shot at him. The bullet passed over him because I saw chippings fly off the wall where the bullet struck. They fired a second shot at him. The bullet struck him high up on the right hand side of his body. He put his hand to his side and said in a loud voice, 'They shot me again.' His head fell to the ground. When a number of men carried him to the ambulance past my window, it was then I recognised him as a workmate named Paddy Doherty.
185. There is a compelling concurrence of views as to how Patrick Doherty met his end among these eyewitnesses. There are no references to any pistol shots having been heard or of a crouching man firing a pistol from the position where Doherty's body was found. One eyewitness states specifically that at the time Doherty was shot, the rioting had stopped and the people had dispersed and that Doherty had been crawling, not crouching. This description of the angle of Doherty's body when he was shot precisely matches the medical evidence. According to Dr. McClean, the axis of the exit wound on the left side of the chest, the bullet having entered the buttock, was "downwards and forward". Doherty could not have been anywhere near a standing or crouching position. Photographic evidence also bears this out.
186. Eyewitnesses claim that at least two shots were fired at Doherty; the first one missed him. Yet Lord Widgery refers only to the bullet that killed Doherty. The eyewitness evidence suggests that, having regard to all the circumstances, it was not possible for Doherty to have been the same person described by soldier F. This soldier was in fact making an unfounded claim about Doherty at the time he was shot. Furthermore, soldier F claimed that he fired at the man as he turned away. The logic - or lack of it - of this statement is that the victim managed to turn at a speed greater than that of the bullet which killed him. No eyewitness statement supports the claim that Doherty turned away and in fact state the opposite; Charles McLaughlin describes Mr. Doherty's last moments in terms such as 'lying parallel with the front of the flats'... 'started to crawl'... 'kept moving'.. 'shot at' [twice].
187. According to Prof. Walsh, soldier F's credibility is severely undermined by the significant changes ("bizarre contradictions" in Walsh's words) in his evidence from one statement to the next. Most damning of all, soldier F "admitted in his evidence....that he forgot to mention having shot dead the alleged gunman between Rossville Flats and Joseph Place." In addition to the evident contradictions surrounding it, there was clearly something profoundly unreliable about F's testimony. Lord Widgery's reference to F's claims, without any acknowledgement of this in his overall treatment of Doherty's killing, was highly partisan and unbalanced and gave an inaccurate, misleading and unjust account of Patrick Doherty's death.
Hugh Pius Gilmore
Para 71. Age 17.Gilmore died near the telephone box which stands south of Rossville Flats and near the alleyway separating Blocks 1 and 2. According to Miss Richmond he was one of a crowd of 30 to 50 people who ran away down Rossville Street when the soldiers appeared. She described his being hit just before he reached the barricade and told how she helped him to run on across the barricade towards the point where he collapsed. a photograph of Gilmore by Mr Robert White (EP 23/9A), which according to Miss Richmond was taken after he was hit, shows no weapon in his hand. The track of the bullet is not consistent with Gilmore being shot from directly behind and I think it likely that the statement of Mr Sean McDermott is more accurate on this point than the evidence of Miss Richmond. Mr McDermott put Gilmore as standing on the barricade in Rossville Street when he was hit and in a position such that his front or side may have been presented to the soldiers.
Para 72. Gilmore was shot by one of the soldiers who fired from Kells Walk at the men at the barricade. It is impossible to identify the soldier. Gilmore's reaction to the paraffin test was negative. There is no evidence that he used a weapon.
188. The following are a selection of the accounts published by Mullan:
- I was at the corner of Rossville Street. I turned back towards Free Derry Corner at Rossville Street. The boy, Gilmore, was walking along the side of the flats at Rossville Street beside me. All of a sudden there was a lot of shooting... This shooting came from the Army because when I turned round there was a soldier on one knee. The boy Gilmore stumbled.... I helped to carry him to where the telephone box was.... The man McGuigan was there at this time. The young boy Gilmore had nothing in his hands...(Geraldine Richmond)
- I witnessed the shooting of Hugh Gilmore and Bernard McGuigan. I was standing on the pavement outside the High Flats. I saw a boy walking alone across waste ground on the William St. side of the Flats. A soldier appeared on the corner of the Flats on the side nearest William Street. The soldier caught hold of the youth and beat him mercilessly with a riot stick or baton. At this moment, Hugh Gilmore emerged from the main door of the High Flats on Rossville Street. He moved past towards the mound of rubble which formed a barricade across Rossville Street. He got on top of the barricade... Hugh Gilmore jumped up clutching the bottom of his stomach shouting "I'm hit, I'm hit".... Francis Mellon and myself... assisted him around the corner of the Flats on the side nearest Free Derry Corner.... there was a narrow hole on the left side of his body and an exit on the right side from which his innards protruded... (Sean McDermott)
- Me and my mate were standing at the corner of flats opposite Glenfada Park. John [Hugh] Gilmore jumped into the air shouting "I've been hit".... I commenced to open his jerkin... The bullet had gone in on the right side just under the lung, I think.... I wiped the blood... All during this period there was shooting around us... (Frank Mellon)
189. These are supported by statements given to the Government in 1972:
- I was standing at the barricade at Rossville St. flats with a young lad who turned out to be Hugh Gilmore. We saw the soldiers coming in from William St. I heard one shot, then another shot and the boy said "Christ, I've been hit". He half ran back to the corner of Rossville St. Flats for cover. With some help we put him on his back. The blood was pouring out of his side.... some of us tried to get help by running across to an open door... We stayed in the house for about ten minutes and then we ran back to young Gilmore, who was lying dead...
- When the soldiers entered Rossville Street.... One of these soldiers ran towards a wall at the maisonettes opposite the High Flats - he aimed the rifle at a group of young boys who were standing on the Free Derry Corner side of a barricade of rubble which is directly outside the main doors of the High Flats...I saw one of these boys fall just as a soldier fired from his position at the maisonettes... Immediately I heard further shots...directed at the other boys at the barricade of rubble...
190. Miss Richmond, who cradled the head of the dying Hugh Gilmore, believed that he had been shot from behind. He could however have been shot by soldiers in the car park to his left as he was running up Rossville Street (away from the soldiers) and just before he reached the flats, as Prof. Dash had speculated. Dash writes that "a shot fired at Gilmore by a paratrooper from this location would be consistent with Miss Richmond's statement that as they passed along the side of Block 1 of the Rossville Flats on Rossville Street, Gilmore cried out that he was hit." Yet Lord Widgery disregarded her version of Gilmore's killing and opted instead for the statement of Sean McDermott who was not called as a witness. Lord Widgery failed therefore to treat the two accounts in equally thorough and fair terms. Indeed Lord Widgery's use on this rare occasion of one the statements submitted by the NICRA/NCCL raises questions about the reasons why he did so.
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