Chapter 28: The incident concerning Rosemary Doyle
28.1 At the time of Bloody Sunday, Rosemary Doyle was a 19-year-old volunteer in the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps. She was on duty on that day, wearing her medical uniform, which consisted of a white coat and a white linen kit bag. In addition to carrying first aid equipment, she was carrying an army issue gas mask in her kit bag.1
28.2 In a report made soon after the event to the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps,1Rosemary Doyle described seeing someone “in the Rossville flats area ” who had been hit by a rubber bullet. She recorded that, after her colleague had instructed bystanders to carry the casualty to safety:
“We proceeded to walk across waste ground by the Rossville flats when two Saracen tanks raced up the roadway and another across the waste ground. The leading Saracen passed within about 1ft 6 inches of us and we stood our ground to avoid injury. A paratrooper then jumped out of the back of the Saracen and fired a rubber bullet at my face at a range of about 2ft 6ins to 3ft. As I was still wearing my gas mask I was protected a good deal from the force of the rubber bullet which slightly damaged three teeth and I sustained bruising of right jaw. We walked slowly away from the Saracen towards the Glenfada Park area and while doing so the paratroopers opened up with live machine gun fire after issuing no warning and with absolutely no provocation from the marchers … ”
28.3 While we have no doubt that Rosemary Doyle was hit by a rubber bullet, it is not clear from this report just where on the Eden Place waste ground this happened.
28.4 It appears from her report that Rosemary Doyle was with two other members of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps, Robert Cadman and Maureen Gallagher. In his report to the Ambulance Corps,1Robert Cadman also described this incident as occurring “on the waste ground at Eden place ”.
28.5 In her written evidence to this Inquiry, Rosemary Doyle marked the position where she had been hit as being more or less in line with the entrance to the car park and the houses in Chamberlain Street, ie right to the south of the Eden Place waste ground.1However, in the course of her oral evidence, Counsel to the Inquiry showed her the following three photographs, which were taken by Robert White. The civilians seen in these photographs include a group of three people, one of whom is wearing a white uniform. This group can be seen more clearly in the third of these photographs, an enlargement of which follows on from it. While the image is not of the best quality, that enlargement shows that the person on the left of the group is a woman wearing what appears to be a grey uniform, including a skirt.
28.6 Counsel to the Inquiry directed Rosemary Doyle to the third of the photographs reproduced above and put to her that she was the person on the right of the group with Robert Cadman in the middle and Maureen Gallagher on the left. Rosemary Doyle said that she thought she was the person in the white uniform standing next to Robert Cadman.1Later, Rosemary Doyle identified Maureen Gallagher from a photograph taken at an early stage of the march.2The image confirms that Maureen Gallagher was wearing the grey uniform of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps.
1 ; 2
28.7 During her oral evidence to us, Maureen Gallagher was shown another copy of the third of the photographs taken by Robert White reproduced above. She identified Rosemary Doyle as the figure in the white uniform and said that she was the person on the left of the group with Robert Cadman in the middle.1 According to her written statement to this Inquiry,2 the incident happened after she and Rosemary Doyle had walked across the waste ground at Eden Place and just as they were beginning to cross Rossville Street towards Kells Walk.
28.8 As noted above, in her report made at the time, Rosemary Doyle described a soldier who disembarked from a vehicle and fired at her at very short range. According to her written evidence to this Inquiry, she saw a soldier emerging from a Saracen (by which she meant an APC) who as he stepped out immediately fired a rubber bullet in her direction.1In her oral evidence to this Inquiry,2she recalled that she thought the Saracen was coming to a halt:
“A. … What happened was, it was coming quite fast and slowing and when the back of it opened, the soldier was actually half in and half out with his foot on a foot plate.
Q. When you describe a soldier coming out with a rubber bullet gun in his hand and being half in and half out of the vehicle when he fired, he was coming out the back with his foot on the foot plate?
A. I cannot remember if that was the actual soldier. It was – they were all coming out in succession and they were coming out running, you know, at speed coming out of it, but –
Q. Go on, I do not want to interrupt.
A. No, I just remember seeing the one with the rubber bullet gun who fired at myself.
Q. You saw him, did you?
A. Um, yes, I did. ”
28.9 When Rosemary Doyle was asked to give an estimate, based on the size of the hearing room, of how far away the soldier was from her when he fired she said:1
“A. 25 yards maybe, or something, I do not know.
LORD SAVILLE: 25 yards would be almost across to the far corner, perhaps a bit less; was it that sort of distance?
A. I think so, that – perhaps a bit less, yes.
LORD SAVILLE: There or thereabouts?
A. Yes, I think so.
LORD SAVILLE: If you really cannot remember at all, do tell us, but we are trying to get as clear a picture as we possibly can. Do not hesitate to say ‘I do not really remember’, if that is the case?
A. I do not really remember, but I think it was less than that, yeah. ”
28.10 However, a little later in her oral evidence, when shown her report made at the time, in which she had recorded that she had been shot at a distance of 2ft 6in to 3ft, Rosemary Doyle said that she could not remember precisely, “but he was very close. I would say that this statement, which I had handwritten at the time, is accurate or very good to accurate ”.1
28.11 In his report to the Ambulance Corps, Robert Cadman made no mention of observing this shot, but stated that Rosemary Doyle told him that she had been hit. “I presumed it was a rubber bullet. ”1In his written statement to this Inquiry, Robert Cadman told us that as the Saracens (APCs) approached he pushed both Rosemary Doyle and Maureen Gallagher to the ground and then crouched over them for protection. “The Saracens carried straight on towards the Rossville Flats and I presume that they stopped at the Rossville Flats, but I did not see this. ” It was when they got up that Rosemary Doyle said that she had been hit.2Robert Cadman did not give oral evidence to this Inquiry.
28.12 In her report to the Ambulance Corps,1Maureen Gallagher described how a Saracen tank came up Rossville Street and “tried to ram Vol [volunteers] Doyle, Cadman and myself down. We then walked up towards Columbcille Court where they were firing rubber bullets, of which one hit volunteer Doyle in the neck. ”
28.13 In her written statement to this Inquiry, Maureen Gallagher told us that she recalled that a rubber bullet was fired from the first Saracen. “I felt it skim past my right cheek. It missed me and I heard Rosemary cry ‘I’m hit’. The rubber bullet had hit Rosemary on her left cheek and the left hand side of her neck. She must have turned to look north towards the Saracens when the bullet hit her. ”1In her oral evidence, Maureen Gallagher was sure that the soldiers were all inside the vehicle and that the baton round was fired from the APC, though its doors were shut. She also said that Rosemary Doyle was not wearing a gas mask at the time and that Robert Cadman was not with them but on the other side of Rossville Street. When she was shown the report that she had made at the time, Maureen Gallagher said that she was sure that when Rosemary Doyle was struck, they were not in the Columbcille Court area, but “coming across Rossville Street ”.2
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Consideration of the evidence concerning Rosemary Doyle
28.14 It is difficult to tell from this evidence whether the soldier who fired the baton round had come from Lieutenant N’s or Sergeant O’s APC. The APC in the foreground of the first of the three photographs shown above is that of Sergeant O. Just behind the rear wheels can be seen the pavement turning into Pilot Row. Behind the APC are three soldiers, who we have no doubt have just disembarked from that vehicle. All three of these soldiers appear to be carrying rifles, not baton guns, but since in our view both Sergeant O’s baton gunners disembarked at this stage, they must be either out of this picture, behind the APC, or about to disembark. As already noted, the film footage to which we have referred in previous chapters1shows soldiers firing baton rounds very soon after disembarking both from Sergeant O’s APC in Rossville Street and Lieutenant N’s APC on the Eden Place waste ground.2This is illustrated by the following still photographs, the first taken from the helicopter footage showing the arrival of Lieutenant N’s APC and the second taken from the ABC film showing the disembarkation of soldiers from Sergeant O’s APC in Rossville Street.
1 , and 2;
28.15 The three photographs in which Rosemary Doyle can be seen and which we have set out above are shown in the order in which they were taken. In each both the group of Order of Malta Ambulance Corps volunteers and soldiers are visible. The second and third photographs show soldiers, but it is impossible to tell for certain whether the one shown in the third photograph who is closest to the Ambulance Corps volunteers came from Sergeant O’s APC or that of Lieutenant N. There is another photograph (attributed to Fulvio Grimaldi) which seems to us also to show Rosemary Doyle and the people close to her while soldiers were disembarking from Lieutenant N’s APC.
28.16 Rosemary Doyle has consistently said that the soldier who fired the baton round had just got out or was in the process of getting out of the APC. Her evidence, as a whole, inclines us to the view that the APC in question was that of Lieutenant N. The report that she made at the time seems to refer to the leading APC as the one from which the soldier appeared, while her oral evidence to us seems to be to the same effect. When she was shown the third of the photographs set out above, her evidence was as follows:1
“Q. If we go to 595, I think we get a clearer or slightly clearer picture of the scene. If we look at this group here, it has been suggested that that group is Robert Cadman in the middle, you on the right and Maureen Gallagher on the left. Do you recognise that scene or any of those people?
A. Yes, because one of the things was – I remember was the way that the armoured vehicle came cutting across the ground to where it is now, yeah.
Q. So we can take it, can we, that probably is you and Robert Cadman?
A. I think it could be, yeah.
Q. That would certainly be consistent with your report because if the army vehicle had got to where it is on that photograph, it is not very far away from you?
Q. And it looks as if it must have crossed quite close to you and it rather looks as if at this moment, when the photograph was taken, a soldier may have got out or been getting out from the back of that vehicle. ”
28.17 On the basis of her evidence that she was hit very soon after the APC had stopped, it seems to us that this must have happened at about the same time as the three photographs were taken, and when she and her colleagues were at or close to their position as shown in those photographs. This would be consistent with the account that Robert Cadman gave at the time.
28.18 Robert Cadman has never suggested that he saw the shot that hit Rosemary Doyle. As to Maureen Gallagher, we do not accept the accuracy of the evidence that she gave to this Inquiry. She was undoubtedly doing her best to assist us, but as is shown by the photographs, she was wrong in believing that Robert Cadman was at the time on the other side of Rossville Street. In our view she was also mistaken in recalling that the baton round was fired from inside an APC, since the film footage shows otherwise, and in recalling that Rosemary Doyle was not wearing a gas mask. We have referred to these parts of Maureen Gallagher’s evidence, as they provide good examples of how the years distort the recollections of honest witnesses.
28.19 There remains the question as to whether or not Rosemary Doyle was correct when she said in the account that she gave at the time that the soldier had fired at a range of 2ft 6in to 3ft.
28.20 For three reasons, we are unable to accept that this was or even might have been the case. In the first place, we were given a demonstration of the discharge of baton rounds. To our minds, a baton round at this range would be likely to have knocked Rosemary Doyle down and caused greater injuries than she sustained. In the second place and more importantly, had a soldier fired his baton gun at such a range, we have no doubt that one or both of her colleagues would have been bound to have seen and heard this happen. As it is, neither has suggested at any time that such an incident occurred. In the third place, until she was reminded of what she had said in her 1972 report, Rosemary Doyle’s recollection was of a soldier firing from a much greater distance. Had the soldier in fact been only a couple of feet away, we believe that this would have been an abiding memory. However, we have no reason to doubt that the baton gunner was quite close to Rosemary Doyle when he fired, probably only a matter of a few yards away.
28.21 It was suggested by the representatives of the majority of the represented soldiers that there is no justification for concluding that the injury to Rosemary Doyle occurred “other than by accident ”.1
28.22 None of the four soldiers in Mortar Platoon armed with baton guns admitted firing the baton round that hit Rosemary Doyle. From the film footage discussed above, it is clear that baton guns were fired very soon after soldiers had disembarked. In our view, based on her evidence, it seems to us that it was one of those shots that hit Rosemary Doyle. We are sure that neither she nor her colleagues, all of whom were in uniform, were rioting or could be mistaken for being rioters. It is possible that the baton round was shot at the ground and bounced up to hit Rosemary Doyle. It is also possible that it was aimed at or towards her. What is evident, again from the film footage and the photographs, is that there were a considerable number of people in the area, so that the chance of a baton round hitting one or more of them was far from remote. In such circumstances we find it difficult to describe her injury as an accident, even if the round was not aimed at her. In the end we are unable to conclude with any certainty whether this shot was fired deliberately at Rosemary Doyle, at someone else in her vicinity, or recklessly without thought in her direction. Given the speed with which the baton gunners fired as they disembarked, it seems to us that the last of these possibilities is the most likely.