Derry Journal 21/05/10 see also at http://www.troopsoutmovement.com/latestnews.htm
Saville must exonerate every victim
Patsy McDaid was 25-years-old when he was wounded on Bloody Sunday. Moments after helping carry the injured Peggy Deery to safety, Patsy was shot in the back as he sought refuge from the incoming fire. His experiences on January 30, 1972, have remained with him. He spoke to ‘Journal’ reporter JULIEANN CAMPBELL this week.
Patsy McDaid had joined the civil rights march in Creggan like thousands of other people. He remembers the optimism of those around him as the march set off for the Guildhall.
“It was like a day out, having a laugh as we walked along. I remember one man remarking that, with so many people marching, we’d probably get to where we were going.”
The march, however, came to a standstill at William Street where the usual bit of trouble flared. Suddenly, the army advanced and marchers began to run towards the Bogside.
“As we reached the car park of the Rossville Flats, I saw a woman being carried. I ran over to help some men carry her into a house in Chamberlain Street. We laid the woman, Peggy Deery, on the sofa where people attended to a gunshot wound to her leg. She was the only woman shot on Bloody Sunday.”
Patsy then ventured outside again. “I’m not sure if I was going for help but when I got outside I sought shelter from the shooting behind a high wall along with 30 or 40 other people. We couldn’t see the soldiers aiming and couldn’t escape from this corner; some people decided to run for it across open ground to safety.
“I made a run for it and I was shot just as I ducked to dive over a wall. I didn’t realise at the time and someone had to show me the blood before I believed I was hurt. That’s when I began to panic. There was so much blood.
“I have no doubt that bending down saved my life. If I had been standing a fraction straighter, the bullet would have went straight through me. Instead, the bullet cut deep across my back.”
Patsy’s wound was dressed in a house at Joseph Place before he was taken to hospital. In the ambulance, he recalls a body – perhaps two – on the floor. He also has clear memories of the “mayhem” at Altnagelvin Hospital as the reality of the situation unfolded.
“The doctor examined me and was amazed that the bullet hadn’t penetrated and just cut across me. He said you could see my bone through the wound but that I probably didn’t feel it with the shock.
“I think it’s only natural to feel lucky after something like that. You realise that a few millimetres saved my life. Thinking – there but for the grace of God – it could have been me shot dead. The fact that I stooped over was literally the difference between life and death.”
Patsy needed answers and was relieved when the new Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign came into being.
“I wanted a campaign. The British had told the world a bunch of lies. They had blackened the names of the dead and the wounded to justify the murder of peaceful marchers. If I was a nail-bomber or gunman, why was I never arrested or questioned? They never came near me.
“I’m always amazed at how hypocritical they are – reporting on massacres like Tiananmen Square and the murder of protestors in the Middle East, but they won’t show you Bloody Sunday and what they did in Derry. Our people were literally shot out of the streets, but they don’t show you that on TV,” he says.
Patsy gave evidence during the subsequent Bloody Sunday Inquiry hearings. “It wasn’t difficult to give evidence. I have nothing to hide. I can only tell the story of what happened to me – it was a peaceful march and I was shot in the back as I ran away, unarmed.”
At the London hearings – at which British soldiers gave evidence anonymously – Patsy was horrified to discover he had actually cheated death twice on Bloody Sunday.
“In London, a man gave evidence that he had been a sniper positioned on the Derry Walls. In his testimony, he said that he had lined up two people as targets and followed them to the back door of a house. He claimed he only held back as he was unsure whether we were legitimate threats, but he could so easily have shot the both of us.
“You get a shock when a man tells you that. It was bad enough getting shot, but to later hear that someone was watching you from far away and had the power to kill you – that is a strange feeling.”
On the ongoing delays in publishing Lord Saville’s report, Patsy says: “This is typical British behaviour. They will use every tactic in the book to drag this report out and delay it further. I don’t have much faith left in Saville – how could it possibly take so many years to complete a report?
“I know what happened on Bloody Sunday and everybody else knows what happened too, so why has it taken so long? The British spun a lie throughout the world that we were gunmen and bombers and they will not make themselves out to be liars – so it will be interesting to see how Saville’s report gets around this.”
To this day, Patsy feels fortunate to have survived when so many others died.
“Just by chance, I survived. Every time I pass the Bloody Sunday monument in Rossville Street, I think to myself, ‘your name could have been on it’ because it so nearly was.”
For more information on the current Bloody Sunday campaign, go to: www.setthetruthfree.org
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