|Issue 5 - May 1972|
They carried him in a tarpaulin,
Because there was no need for a stretcher,
And because that way it wasn't obvious
That so little flesh
After hearing Eamonn McCann speak I became interested in Northern Ireland. As a result I spent a week there in the hope of getting a private account of the situation there. What struck me was the prevalence of violence and its acceptance by ordinary people. Even more terrifying is the awareness that it could be much worse. The Army firepower which passes by every minute in a typical Belfast street could obliterate everyone in sight in a few seconds.Bloody Sunday
Here is an eyewitness account of the massacre in Derry - one of the many which Lord Widgery did not have time to hear.
"We marched down William Street then we were stopped by an Army barricade. The troops began to shoot rubber bullets and CS gas. The older people left and the young people began to shoot stones at the Army. After a while the troops entered behind the barricade and we ran along Chamberlain Street and the troops were entering along the main road into the Bogside. I heard the first shots and was afraid. Then when I reached the back of the flats I saw a young boy lying in front of the flats shot. I was very afraid and I thought myself and the rest of the people were going to be shot dead. I saw a priest crawling down to the young boy lying shot and I saw a black soldier shooting at the priest. When the priest reached the boy he dipped his handkerchief into the boy's blood and waved it at the soldiers, but they continued to shoot. There was a man standing beside me who ran out to help the police and he was shot in the leg, but he thought it was a rubber bullet; he ran out with his hand on his leg but he was shot in the hip and his friends grabbed him and pulled him in. I was with about thirty other people and we all crawled up to a corner in the back of the flats. There was a man among us who had a revolver and he was shooting at the Army after he saw the troops shooting at the priest but we asked him to stop because the troops might come in and get the rest of us, so he stopped. We stayed in the corner for about 15 minutes. There was an elderly man among us who ran to safety but the Army shot at him and later we found the man lying dead at the front of the flats. The next thing I saw was two other bodies lying at the corner of the flats - one of the men had blood pumping out of his head. The shooting stopped then, but after ten or fifteen minutes the soldiers began to shoot again and myself and two other friends ran for cover behind the houses in the Bogside. An ambulance came in and began to collect the bodies. The troops then began to shoot at the ambulance men, but they finally stopped. I saw bodies being carried out of houses and into ambulances".
(this statement was signed but we thought it better not to publish the eyewitness' name - MG)
The two men who were killed were Jack Duddy, aged 17, and Patrick Doherty aged 31. Widgery says it is "probable" Duddy "was hit by a bullet intended for someone else". Neither of them were armed. Anyone reading the Widgery Report would see that 1) he favoured Army evidence, 2) he has ignored key witnesses and several important incidents, 3) his evidence does not support his conclusions.Free Derry
Since internment, no troops or police have operated within the Bogside, Creggern, Rosemount or Brandywell. In the Blights Lane area a single Army post is situated in the centre of this unit of council housing, cramped terraces and prefabs, Every day the Army do a high speed "milk run" in Saracens to relieve it. William Street, at the point where Free Derry adjoins the centre of the town, is the scene of a daily confrontation between the local kids and a Saracen conveniently parked there for them to stone.
Although housing is still poor, unemployment chronic and violence pervasive, for the people of Bogside the present situation is a release, and almost a liberation. The people's demands cannot be identified precisely but they will not be satisfied by an English style reform programme, however attractive.Orangelaw, Greenlaw, or Whitelaw?
Law n' Order in Northern Ireland comes under the name of the Special Powers Act which was passed in 1922. This Act enables any police officer to: search buildings, cars or people without a warrant; seize anything he finds; detain you without warrant for 48 hours for interrogation; disband any meeting of three or more people. The Minister of Home Affairs may: intern without trial; place under house arrest; refuse an inquest on any dead body; occupy any land or building and use it in any way with no right of compensation; confiscate money from any bank account; impose curfews; suspend publication of any newspaper or periodical. Internees have no right of communication. It's an offence not to answer any police questions, or collect or publish any information about the police.
Mr Vorster has said that he would exchange all his legislation for one Special Powers Act. Its existence has meant that Britain cannot sign the full Declaration of Human Rights. Since the suspension of Stormont it is being administered directly by the British Government.
As well as the army being in Ulster, the Royal Ulster Constabulary is there - large and armed. In the 1968 reforms the police were disarmed, but that only lasted six months and they are now on the streets of Belfast with machine guns. In these reforms, the B-Specials were disbanded but many rejoined the New Ulster Defence Regiment (part of the British Army). In any case, none gave back their guns.What Next
Although the suspension of Stormont is to be welcomed, it is too late, and unless the Army is withdrawn from Derry and republican areas of Belfast, all internees are released and the Special Powers Act is repealed within the next month the situation will only get worse - and obviously these changes will not take place within the next month.
The Anti-Internment League needs your support to press two demands: