The full truth of Martin McGuinness’ actions on Bloody Sunday will probably never be admitted by the IRA movement.
A number of IRA volunteers – who thought they were ‘off duty’ on the day and had just gone on the march along with friends – happened upon McGuinness and another IRA volunteer, McFadden, as they were breaking into a building in High Street to get access to the upper floors of Duffy’s Bookies [betting shop] fronting onto William Street and overlooking British soldiers below.
What they noticed about McGuinness on the afternoon was that he was holding a Thompson sub-machine gun [the same gun that had been used three days previously to murder two RUC men on nearby Creggan Hill] and that his IRA comrade friend – a son of Barney McFadden – was carrying a large explosive charge.
A number of these IRA volunteers who happened upon McGuinness and McFadden were friends of mine and recounted their memories years later and before that knowledge ever became controversial.
Most of these old friends of mine are dead now – most notably Sean McCallion – but not all of them.
It says a lot about the IRA movement in 2023 that one of these witnesses – a well known former IRA prisoner – is still afraid to be quoted even on this matter for fear of repercussions on his relatives living in Derry.
For all that McGuinness was honoured in death by the Roman Catholic church – given funeral honours equivalent to a Head of State (Head of the IRA Army Council more like) – the “dogs on the street” [these dogs are more active than Radio Foyle newsroom journos] knew that McGuinness broke the IRA’s word to the Civil Rights leaders that it – the IRA – would not be “active” during the period of the Civil Rights march that became Bloody Sunday.
He went on to “lie on oath” to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry about all matters relating to the IRA, even claiming that he had left the IRA in 1974…
The man who was guaranteeing the ‘No IRA Actions On The Day’ promise to Civil Rights leaders was the Derry Brigade O.C. – and this individual was not Martin McGuinness.
This individual was a background type of guy who was well known in the community but who shunned publicity of any kind and still does.
Following events on Bloody Sunday, this well known IRA leader had a series of arguments with McGuinness about McGuinness’ breach of IRA Army Orders on the day – and this individual later resigned as O.C. of the Derry Brigade so angry was he about McGuinness’ behaviour on this occasion (and later on the occasion of the IRA Press Conference in the Brandywell to which the O.C. was not invited).
In fact – as the all-knowing Derry/Londonderry dogs knew – not only did McGuinness move weapons on Bloody Sunday, he also had a number of nail bombs issued to young teenagers that they might use during or after the latter part of the march.
The teenagers in question were mostly members of the Junior IRA – which was known as ‘the Fianna’.
The Fianna at this time were held to be too young to be fully-fledged IRA Volunteers – but in practice they were doing everything that IRA Volunteers were doing as sometime Fianna leader Gerry O’Hara – another old friend of mine from Thundering Down – later admitted.
Gerry O’Hara – later elevated to Sinn Féin Mayor of Derry – was big into the Irish language and changed his name to Gearóid Ó hEára.
It is an international War Crime to involve youngsters in front line military operations, but nobody has ever been interested in the IRA movement’s involvement of kids in front line military/paramilitary operations.
Many young teenagers wanted to be associated with the Fianna – it offered immature teenagers of 14/15/16/17 years of age a sense of purpose and importance in a world controlled by adults.
They got to see and be near IRA leaders sporting machine guns and rifles – to immature teenagers it was all very exciting.
On Bloody Sunday, while fewer than a dozen nail bombs were issued, there were way more young Fianna around the Bogside (and from the Creggan) than there were nail bombs.
Not every Fian was going to get a nail bomb – fewer than half a dozen did.
What matters is that everybody agrees on all sides that No Nail Bombs Were Ever Exploded on the day that became Bloody Sunday – they were evidently issued to the teenagers and they were later recalled back to an IRA dump behind the Bogside Inn by Martin McGuinness.
Though they were never used, they are at the heart of Gerald Donaghey’s story.
Gerald Donaghey (17) – Shot in the Abdomen
Young Gerald Donaghey was a Fian – a member of the IRA’s Fianna na hÉireann – the junior IRA.
Big Deal – so were many of the young kids roaming around the Bogside, Creggan and Brandywell – it would have been hard for many of these kids to avoid the peer pressure and peer attactiveness of joining the Fianna for a time.
When I was 15 years young in 1970, my then friend Paul O’Connor asked me to join the Provisional IRA along with him and we were “sworn in” the following evening as IRA Volunteers, not even as more junior Fianna.
A lot of thought went into that decision! [not]
When British Army paratroopers opened fire into the Civil Rights marchers in the William Street/Rossville Street/Glenfada Park/Abbey Park area, one high velocity rifle bullet hit young Gerald Donaghey in the abdomen, spilling his intestines out of his stomach and causing a severe bleed.
During the shooting minutes earlier, a number of civilians had taken refuge in the home of Raymond Rogan at 10 Abbey Park.
Rogan had been born in England in the Lake District – his father was English and his mother was from Derry.
He was only 4 years old when both of his parents died suddenly – as the youngest of 11 children, he and his younger siblings were brought over to Derry to his granny’s house to be raised in Thomas Street.
Rogan’s older siblings stayed in England and one of his brothers became a submariner in the Royal Navy, while another joined the Merchant Navy.
Rogan had married a local girl and had worked in Molins Engineering in Campsie, but had been active in community matters and was later elected to head a local Tenants’ Association and later again elected as Chair of the Bogside Community Association.
Later again, at the insistence of Fr. Edward Daly [later Bishop Edward Daly, scourge of the local IRA], Rogan took up a paid post as United Nations representative in Northern Ireland, trusted by both communities.
He was not an IRA type by any means.
Let’s let Rogan tell it in his own words:
Looking out the window you could see somebody had been shot.
I went out and a couple of people helped me lay him in here.
He was just like a wain. He was just 17 and he looked even younger.
We laid him down here.
We searched him, we couldn’t find anything – the wife found a necklace, a cross round his neck.
We wanted to identify him, notify his people.
There was a doctor down at Peter Carr’s house on the corner there and he came up examined him and said, ‘He has a chance if he can be got to hospital’, and I said right get him into my car.
The fellow that helped back me out of the yard sat in the back seat and young Donaghey was laid across his knees.
We headed straight for the hospital.
There wasn’t a flyover then and we were stopped by the army just past the Long Tower chapel near the top of Abercorn Road and my handbrake wasn’t great and I said to them ‘the car will run back if I get out’, and they pulled you out and we had to put our hands behind our heads and stand against the wall.
I remember distinctly one soldier saying to me, ‘don’t move, one is not enough for me’. I didn’t know what he meant but it was clear he was gonna shoot me if I didn’t do what he told me.
I kept protesting about the young fellow; we were trying to get him to hospital and he would die if we didn’t, and I kept looking over and the car was still there after about 20 to 30 minutes before they moved the car.
And they didn’t take him to hospital, they took him to the camp on Foyle Road and me and this other fellow who was along with me were arrested.
[While being detained, Raymond heard a bang close by and two police figures who knew him came in and told him he was being released.]
And I said, ‘what about my car?’ And one said, ‘that bang you heard that was your car, the boot of your car being blown open, there were nail bombs in that young fellow’s pocket’.
I said, ‘What?’
It was a goddamn lie. He had tight jeans on him, there was no way he had bombs in his pockets.
And would I have brought him into my family house with nail bombs in his pocket?
We had searched him to try and find any identity. Nothing.
He was the only one the army and police said had weapons of any description of those that were shot.
There is no way that young fellow had nail bombs in his pocket.
You can see from the photographs they were squeezed in and were sticking out.
There is no way you could have missed it.”https://www.derryjournal.com/news/people/an-extraordinary-life-derryman-raymond-rogan-3270299
Let’s be clear – when Gerald Donaghey was lifted up in the street and carried into Raymond Rogan’s home and laid on the sofa, his skin-tight jeans were opened at the waist to examine the deadly wound in his abdomen where his intestines were protruding from his stomach.
Nobody who carried him into Rogan’s home noticed ANYTHING in his tight pockets.
Not alone the doctor and a nurse and Rogan and Rogan’s wife examined him, but a posse of local people [certainly including some IRA and Fianna witnesses on the street] watched the episode from close range – nobody noticed FOUR pointy nail bombs in his tight jeans’ pockets…
A lot of people sympathetic to the IRA had ample opportunity to remove anything that MIGHT have been on his person during the period when citizens, a doctor and a nurse were examing his wound.
Even the first British soldier to get into Rogan’s car to drive Donaghey off to an army medical post noticed NOTHING in his pockets.
Even the Army Medical Officer who first examined Donaghey and expressed the view that he was already dead noticed NOTHING in his pockets.
But shortly afterwards – HEY PRESTO – not ONE, not TWO, not THREE, but FOUR NAIL BOMBS appeared stuffed with extreme difficulty into the pockets of his tight jeans and tight jeans’ jacket – so tightly packed into the pockets that later one could not be removed without being CUT OUT of the pocket!
So while the entire Derry Brigade of the IRA went on a spree of pressuring people to lie, asking to meet prospective witnesses of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and making a series of extraordinary omissions all to the benefit of Martin McGuinness – who needed to be whitewashed to further his political career – neither Sinn Féin nor the IRA put much effort into clearing the name of Gerald Donaghey.
And so, to this day Gerald Donaghey has been recorded as having had FOUR NAIL BOMBS on his person when he was shot while IRA Derry Brigade Adjutant Martin McGuinness has effectively been whitewashed by a torrent of lies and a huge Derry Brigade IRA cover-up of his activities on Bloody Sunday.
In all the secret IRA negotiations to bring about the release of IRA prisoners, a secret Amnesty for IRA volunteers on the run [the OTR letters], and the secretive deal to wind down and kill off the Bloody Sunday protests, nobody in the IRA leadership bothered to make any admissions about past IRA activities – and nobody bothered to press for Gerald Donaghey’s name to be entirely cleared.
Gerry Adams had expressed to British authorities a desire for all these matters to be dealt with in secret – as Mark Durkan recalled.
Surely it’s time the IRA told the whole story about what actually went on during Martin McGuinness’ Bloody Sunday in order that Gerald Donaghey’s name may finally be cleared.
But don’t hold your breath…