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Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry
- Volume VI - Chapter 109

Accounts of other shooting at civilians in the area of Sector 4

Chapter 109: Accounts of other shooting at civilians in the area of Sector 4



Patrick McGinley 109.2

Denis Patrick McLaughlin 109.3

Malachy Coyle 109.4

John McCourt 109.6

Pat Doherty 109.7

Frankie Mellon 109.8

John Anthony (Sean) McDermott 109.9

Michael McCusker 109.12

Consideration of the evidence of other shooting in the area of Sector 4 109.14

Conclusions on the evidence 109.29

109.1 A number of witnesses have given evidence of seeing one or more civilians inside Glenfada Park North, or running from Glenfada Park North, being shot, or shot at, after soldiers had arrived at the entrance to the car park. These included civilians who were in Glenfada Park North itself (Patrick McGinley, Denis Patrick McLaughlin, Malachy Coyle and John McCourt); one who was watching from Mura Place in Block 1 of the Rossville Flats (Pat Doherty); and three who were close to the phone box at the southern end of the same block (Frankie Mellon, Michael McCusker and John Anthony McDermott, known as Sean McDermott).

Patrick McGinley

109.2 In his Keville interview Patrick McGinley said that, while he and others were sheltering at the gable end, soldiers arrived and held them at gunpoint. Three youths attempted to run. The soldiers shot at them and they fell. Patrick McGinley said that he also tried to run but another man held him back.1

1 AM241.10; AM241.19

Denis Patrick McLaughlin

109.3 Denis Patrick McLaughlin’s evidence to this Inquiry, and in one of his 1972 statements, might suggest that he witnessed the same event. He believed that four youths ran across Glenfada Park North from the gable end when a soldier arrived there, and that three were cut down as they did so. The fourth, Patrick McGinley, returned with his hands on his head.1

1 AM326.6-7; Day 159/42-53; Day 159/65

Malachy Coyle

109.4 In his Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) statement dated 1st February 19721 Malachy Coyle gave an account of seeing from a yard in the south-west corner of Glenfada Park North a man who had been shot while lying on the ground. We have considered this account in our examination of the shooting of Jim Wray.2 Malachy Coyle continued:

“I looked across the court, and saw about eight soldiers running across from my left to right. The first soldier looked around the corner and saw a group of women taking shelter from the army gunfire. He shouted that he was going to shoot them. He also called them bastards. The man in the yard with me said that if we showed ourselves the army would shoot us if they had seen us in the yard. I followed the man out with my hands on top of my head. We stood looking at the soldiers who were still threatening the women. I saw a youth wearing a dark blue suit panic, and start running. One of the soldiers shot him in the stomach before he had even made a step. The soldier had shot him from almost point blank range. On seeing this I panicked and ran towards the opening on my right hand side. I heard more shooting but I kept running until I was well away from the gunfire and danger.”

1 AC97.20 2Paragraphs 104.290, 104.318, 104.327 and 104.340–343

109.5 Malachy Coyle gave a similar account in his Paul Mahon interview and in his written and oral evidence to this Inquiry.1 He agreed that it was possible that the soldier had missed, but that he did not believe that this had happened.

1 X4.45.48-64; AC97.5-6; Day 156/44-52

John McCourt

109.6 We have referred above1 to the Keville interview attributed to “Joe McCourt”. This recorded that after soldiers had begun to arrest (and assault) civilians at the gable end, three men broke away and ran off. One soldier then lifted his rifle and fired at them, but the witness could not see whether they were hit. We have also considered the next part of this statement in which Joe McCourt recorded that the same soldier then “ran over into the corner of Glenfada Pk and apparently fired at a female Order of Malta Ambulance Corps member.2 As we have observed3 when considering the shooting of Jim Wray, John McCourt has denied being responsible for this statement, although some of the evidence contained within it regarding earlier events seems to match his account of what he did and saw on the day, and in oral evidence to this Inquiry John McCourt agreed that the address on the transcript was his address in 1972.4 John McCourt gave no evidence to this Inquiry of seeing the incident described in the Keville interview attributed to Joe McCourt.5 We have earlier expressed the view that John McCourt probably did give this Keville interview.6

1 Paragraph 104.376

2 AM144.6; AM144.9

3 Paragraphs 104.377–383

4 Day 152/146-147; Day 423/93-95; Day 423/109-112

5 Day 152/148-150

6 Paragraph 104.377

Pat Doherty

109.7 Pat Doherty said in a Keville interview that from his position in 17 Mura Place, on the sixth floor of Block 1, he saw soldiers who came in round the back and they were arresting the fellas”. He watched as a man was shot while holding a white flag with his hands above his head. Another man then ran off, and Pat Doherty said he heard further shooting. He also said that it was just out of our view and it appeared that he had been shot too. In his evidence to this Inquiry, Pat Doherty recalled that he saw one man shot as he gave himself up in Glenfada Park. Pat Doherty told us that he recalled seeing a man in Glenfada Park who came out to give himself up but was then shot. However, Pat Doherty stated that his memory of events was poor, and he preferred his 1972 evidence.1

1 AD95.2; AD95.1; AD95.4

Frankie Mellon

109.8 Frankie Mellon gave evidence to this Inquiry that while he was sheltering by the telephone box at the southern end of Block 1 of the Rossville Flats, he saw a soldier on one knee aiming at a tall man with fair hair who was running in a southerly direction (towards Free Derry Corner) in Glenfada Park. The soldier, whose position Frankie Mellon could not recall with precision, screamed at the man to stop. Frankie Mellon watched the man clutch his stomach as he was shot in the back, and saw a piece of masonry fall from the wall in front of the man. However, Frankie Mellon could not be sure that the soldier whom he had seen, and who had shouted and aimed at the man, was the one who fired the shot, though he did say that the soldier was aiming into Glenfada Park North. Frankie Mellon’s recollection of this incident was extremely vague – so much so that he could not recall whether or not the soldier was actually in Glenfada Park1 – and he gave no evidence of it in his Keville interview or NICRA statement.2 He thought that it happened after he had seen the shootings of Hugh Gilmour and possibly Bernard McGuigan (casualties in Sector 3 and Sector 5 respectively that we discuss later in this report3) but he could not be sure of this sequence.4

1 Day 151/168-170

2 AM399.19; AM399.16

3 Paragraphs 86.60–150 and 118.205–294

4 AM399.12; Day 151/164-171; Day 151/196-197

John Anthony (Sean) McDermott

109.9 Sean McDermott gave a NICRA statement in which he described sheltering with his friend Frankie Mellon by the telephone box after Hugh Gilmour and Bernard McGuigan had been shot and that While there I looked across the road and saw a soldier chase five young boys, behind a wall. I lost sight of the boys but I saw the soldier raise his gun and fire at the boys who were not more than five yards away from him. I don’t know if any of them were hit.1

1 AM4.11-12

109.10 In his written evidence to this Inquiry, Sean McDermott gave a slightly different account. He recalled seeing two civilians running into the north-west alleyway of Glenfada Park South who disappeared behind a wall near that alleyway. It is clear from the map attached to this statement that Sean McDermott was in fact referring to the north-east alleyway. He then stated that he saw a soldier who appeared to come from the south-east corner of Glenfada Park North run to the opening of the alleyway and there fire three or four shots in quick succession in the direction of the fleeing men.1

1 AM4.5-6

109.11 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Sean McDermott gave a similar account to that in his written statement and marked on the following photograph where he said the soldier was standing.1

1 Day 144/72; AM4.14

Michael McCusker

109.12 Another witness at the southern end of Block 1 of the Rossville Flats, Michael McCusker, stated to this Inquiry (but not in his Keville interview1) that he saw about five soldiers in the Glenfada Park North courtyard apparently shooting towards the south and west of that courtyard. Michael McCusker believed that the soldiers were firing from the hip as they ran, but he did not recall seeing the recoil of their rifles or any smoke coming from the barrels of their guns. He did not (or could not) see what the soldiers were firing at. He told us that he did not see any civilians gathering at the south gable end of the eastern block of Glenfada Park North. He described the soldiers being in the entrance to Glenfada Park North and firing in a westerly direction.2

1 AM160.7; AM160.13-15

2 AM160.5-6; Day 148/64-68; Day 148/86-89; AM160.11; AM160.12

109.13 Michael McCusker appears to have spoken to Praxis Films Ltd, and the note of that interview contains a reference to Soldiers over in G. Park and K. Walk shooting”.1

1 AM160.9

Consideration of the evidence of other shooting in the area of Sector 4

109.14 In our view Patrick McGinley and Denis Patrick McLaughlin were confused about the sequence of events, and were seeking to describe the shooting of Jim Wray, William McKinney and Joe Mahon, who we are sure were hit and fell on the south side of Glenfada Park North before any soldier had got as far as the gable end.

109.15 There is no doubt Malachy Coyle believed at the time and continues to believe that he witnessed a youth shot at very close range by one of the soldiers at the gable end. However, it seems to us that he must be mistaken about this. Had such an incident occurred, it would have been in very close proximity to the people at the gable end, who could hardly have missed seeing someone near them shot at close range, but there is no evidence from any of them of any such shooting.

109.16 There is evidence from others that some people did run away from the group at the gable end when the soldiers arrived there.

109.17 John McLaughlin (51 at the time) was at the gable end. We have already considered the evidence of this witness when examining the events in Abbey Park.1 In a Keville interview he said that he had run away from the gable end when the soldiers arrived;2 and in an interview with Peter Pringle of the Sunday Times, that after a soldier appeared at the gable end and pointed his rifle at them:3

“one young lad ran out toward the alley way and as he did so the soldier swiveled his rifle round after him but as far as i can remember did not shoot. he simply shouted at him to stop. i took the opportunity and ran across to the passage leading into the southern part of glenfada. the soldier shouted at me to stop and i saw him swing his rifle round at me. i put my hands on my head, bent double, and just kept going. i think there were others behind me. i didn’t hear any shots then.”

1 Paragraph 107.130

2 AM500.3

3 AM340.12

109.18 James Quinn (31 years old in 1972) told this Inquiry that he ran from the gable end to Joseph Place as the soldiers led the arrestees away.1 As he did so, he heard shots, but he did not see who fired them and he could not say whether they were fired in his direction.2 James Quinn’s evidence suggests that he fled at a later stage than John McLaughlin.

1 AQ10.6

2 Day 179/67-68

109.19 Ken Murphy gave a NICRA statement in which he described watching the arrests from a house in Glenfada Park North and seeing a young fella” fall to the ground and get up again.1 In his written evidence to this Inquiry, he told us that he now had no recollection of events, save that he did recall that he was in 13 Glenfada Park North at the northern end of the western block.2

1 AM457.1

2 AM457.2

109.20 It seems unlikely that what Malachy Coyle saw was either John McLaughlin or James Quinn running away, because neither of these could be described as a youth. However, he may well have seen the youth described by the former, and it is possible that this was the young fella Ken Murphy described as falling down. Malachy Coyle was on his own account terrified and in our view, especially if there had been other shooting from a soldier or soldiers at the gable end, he seems understandably but mistakenly to have associated this with seeing a youth fall to the ground.

109.21 The Keville interview1given by John McCourt refers to three men running away and a soldier firing at them, though it does not indicate in which direction he recalled the men running. In the previous chapter2we concluded that John McCourt was mistaken in his recollection that soldiers shot at a female volunteer of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps in Glenfada Park North. In our view what he may have seen were people running away and a soldier pointing his rifle at them, as described by John McLaughlin, but on its own his account does not persuade us that a soldier actually shot at those fleeing from the gable end.

1 X2.35.17 2Paragraphs 108.34 and 108.74

109.22 As to Pat Doherty, the position of the man with the white flag or the other man who then ran is not clear from his 1972 account. It seems to us that he may well have observed some of the firing from, as opposed to into, Glenfada Park North, which we return to consider in the context of Sector 5.1,2 The evidence he gave to this Inquiry is also unclear, as he appears to have a recollection or impression of a soldier coming from the rubble barricade in Rossville Street firing at someone coming out of Glenfada Park North. Since Pat Doherty himself accepted that his recollection at the time was a lot clearer than when he gave evidence to this Inquiry, we have concluded that it would be unwise to rely on his evidence that there was any shooting in the Glenfada Park North area apart from that directed out from that area, which we consider when discussing the events of Sector 5.

1 Chapter 119 2 As will be seen (paragraphs 118.263–268), there is evidence that Bernard McGuigan, shot in Sector 5, was holding a cloth in his hand when he was shot.

109.23 As to Frankie Mellon, we took the view that his evidence of seeing someone shot in Glenfada Park North was so vague that it would also be unwise to place any reliance on it. He himself acknowledged that his recollection came from what he described as a peripheral vision while he was concentrating his attention elsewhere.1As noted above, he said nothing about such an incident in his Keville interview or NICRA statement.

1 Day 151/168-70

109.24 As to Sean McDermott, in both his 1972 account and in his evidence to this Inquiry, he put the incident he described as occurring after the shooting of Bernard McGuigan. As appears from our consideration of the events of Sector 5,1there is no other evidence to suggest that any soldier he could have seen from his position shot at young boys fleeing southwards from this area after Bernard McGuigan was killed. However, as we have already observed, the fact that a witness has got the sequence of events wrong does not necessarily invalidate the account given by that witness. In his oral evidence, Sean McDermott appeared much less certain about when this incident occurred.2

1 Paragraphs 119.17–35 2Day 144/81

109.25 It is possible that Sean McDermott was recalling the same incident as that contained in the Keville interview of John McCourt. If so, there are two witnesses who describe a soldier firing at fleeing people. However, the only evidence we have from people who did flee when soldiers got to the south gable wall of the eastern block of Glenfada Park North is to the effect that although a soldier ordered them to stop and pointed his rifle in their direction, he did not actually fire. As we describe when considering Sector 5,1there was undoubtedly Army firing out of Glenfada Park North after soldiers had got to the gable end and it may be that Sean McDermott and John McCourt heard this firing and associated it with the soldier pointing his rifle at people fleeing from the area of the gable end.

1 Chapter 119

109.26 John Leo Clifford gave written evidence to this Inquiry1 though he was too unwell to give oral evidence. He stated that he was in Glenfada Park South when a bullet passed close by him which he thought must have come from soldiers on the walkway above the northern block of Glenfada Park North or from soldiers on the ground at the north-east corner of Glenfada Park North. It was suggested by counsel for the Wray family that this account was consistent with the evidence given by Sean McDermott.2 In the sense that both witnesses describe shooting into Glenfada Park South this is correct, but John Leo Clifford spoke of only one bullet he thought had come from the north of Glenfada Park North, said nothing about people fleeing and thought the bullet had been aimed at him, whereas in his evidence to us Sean McDermott said that the soldier he saw fired three or four shots in quick succession from the south-east of Glenfada Park North at fleeing people. In our view, John Leo Clifford’s evidence does not support the account given by Sean McDermott. On its own, it is evidence that a shot was fired which went into Glenfada Park South, but when and from where remains unclear. It seems to us that this may have been one of the shots that was fired in Sector 3, or one fired earlier in Sector 4, but apart from John Leo Clifford’s recollections, given decades after the event, there is no evidence that he was the target of whoever fired this round.

1 AC66.1 2Day 144/79

109.27 In these circumstances, we are not persuaded by Sean McDermott’s evidence, considered alone or with the Keville interview of John McCourt, that a soldier fired at anyone fleeing from the area of the southern end of the eastern block of Glenfada Park North.

109.28 As to Michael McCusker, while we have no doubt that he was doing his best to help this Inquiry, and may well have seen soldiers in the southern part of Glenfada Park North, we are not persuaded that they were firing into Glenfada Park North as he described. As he was close to the corner of the southern end of Block 1 of the Rossville Flats1 his view into Glenfada Park North was very restricted and he could have seen only part of the southernmost area from there. It seems to us that what he may have seen or heard is some of the firing in Sector 5, which we consider later in this report.2

1 Day 148/89 2Chapter 119

Conclusions on the evidence

109.29 Having examined the evidence to which we have referred above, we are of the view that after soldiers had arrived at the mouth of the entrance to Glenfada Park North and started arresting people, there was no further shooting into Glenfada Park North by soldiers in the area. We consider that after the initial shooting soon after soldiers came into Glenfada Park North, the shooting of Jim Wray and the shots that Private G fired in Abbey Park, the next firing in the area was not into, but out of, Glenfada Park North, in circumstances that we examine when dealing with the events of Sector 5.1 As we have already observed, it may be that some witnesses mistakenly thought that the firing into Sector 5 was into Glenfada Park North. It must also be remembered that at a late stage, after those arrested in Glenfada Park North had been taken away and indeed after the firing into Sector 5, there was, as we describe when dealing with later events in Sector 3,2 firing by soldiers in Rossville Street. This too may have led people mistakenly to believe that shots were being fired in Glenfada Park North.

1 Chapter 119 2Chapters 123 and 124