Thursday, 24 September 2009

Eyewitness Bloody Sunday

The Chairman of the Bloody Sunday Tribunal, Lord Savill, today announced that publication of the findings would be again delayed until sometime next year.

The Tribunal, which was established by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998, began hearing evidence in November 1998, and when it completed its work in 2005, it had collected some 2,500 witness statements, 160 volumes of evidence, 121 audio tapes and 110 video tapes.

In December 2000, this writer submitted a crucial eyewitness account of the atrocity which was entered as evidence in the Tribunal.

Since almost nine years have elapsed since that time, I republish two articles which dealt with the events leading up to the disclosure of that evidence.

Some links may no longer be current.

A transcript of the tape is included in Part 2.


G21 Special Report:

The Liddy Tape
by Joe O'Neill
G21 Alumnus
To read this article in Deutsch, Francaise, Italiano, Portuguese, Espanol, copy and paste the complete URL ( and enter it in the box after you click through.


[EDITOR'S NOTE: Joe O'Neill, the author of this article, is a G21 Alumnus who has reported for the IRISH ECHO and IRISH HERALD. Mr. O'Neill was G21's first reporter on Northern Ireland issues, inaugurating our IRISH EYES coverage. We are pleased to welcome him back to these pages. Months back, he offered G21 the Liddy tape, which is now part of a Blair Administration new investigation into "Bloody Sunday" (January, 1972.) What follows is Mr. O'Neill's continued coverage of that tragic event.--RA]

A recently discovered tape recording of a dramatic eyewitness account of Bloody Sunday (when 14 Irish civil rights marchers were murdered by British paratroopers) that lay stored in a basement for the last 28 years, has been entered as evidence in the new Bloody Sunday Tribunal.

The tape, which was stored in the basement of former San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist, Dan O'Neill's Nevada City home after he made a trip to Ireland in 1972, was rediscovered during a basement clean-up.

John Barry Liddy, who participated in the Bloody Sunday civil rights march, is interviewed on the recording as he lay injured in his home waiting for an ambulance.

A few months back, while working on edits for our story on the Serbian elections, this editor received a call from G21 Alumnus Joe O'Neill. O'Neill had contacted me after being contacted by his friend, Dan O'Neill (no relation.)

Joe was calling to tell me about the amazing, eye-witness content of the tape. He wanted advice on how to disseminate it to the largest number of "the right people." I advised that he burn it onto CDs. He did, and sent me an advance copy the following week.

Listening to the entire tape of John Barry Liddy's words ranks among the most heartbreaking experiences I have had in my entire life. The tales of reported beatings, and their nature, are enough to curdle the blood of any civilized person. That the victims of these "interrogations" were then left on the street to die...

The actual tape, which O'Neill shared with G21 months ago, goes on for an excruciating nearly 15 minutes. Neither the BBC RealAudio broadcast (which only runs a scant two and a half minutes,) nor the official government Bloody Sunday Inquiry site, provides the complete record of the John Barry Liddy tape. As a service to our readers, G21 will provide a complete transcript next week. Sadly, reading the words on the page cannot do complete justice to hearing Mr. Liddy's anquished voice, his sobbing... Most notably, the BBC excerpt gives no account of the torture and beatings of the victims during their hours-long "interrogation".

As Joe recounted later, "Dan turned the tape over to me to see if I could get it to the 'right people'... After our conversation...I sent it to the 'Bloody Sunday Trust' representing the families and relatives of victims. 'The Trust' turned it over to the lawyers. I spoke with the lawyers while I was in Ireland and the tape was entered in evidence, etc...."

We are often asked if the G21 really believes one person can make a difference. We do. Ask Joe or Dan O'Neill... RA Mr. Liddy, along with others, was rounded up after the killings by members of the Parachute Regiment and taken to a British army detention center where they were severely beaten and then thrown out onto the street.

Picked up outside the detention center by good Samaritans and driven home, Mr. Liddy is described by the interviewer as being in a semi-conscious state, suffering from a broken leg, broken ribs, severe contusions of the head and badly bruised about the body.

Ironically, at the start of the interview Mr. Liddy describes himself as a former member of the Royal Navy, British Army, and the U.D.R. (Now defunct Ulster Defense Regiment).
The detention center where he was beaten, Fort George, was also his place of employment where he worked as a bartender for the Army, Navy and Airforce Institute.

Describing the horrific details of the killing around him, Mr. Liddy confirms that the first shots fired came from a rifleman positioned on the Derry Walls, a fact denied by the British army and successive British governments who have maintained that their soldiers fired in response to shots fired at them from within the march.

In heartbreaking detail, filled with emotion, Mr. Liddy describes watching helplessly, along with local priest, Father Bradley, as the British army "pumped bullets" into unarmed and wounded victims as they tried to crawl to cover.

While helping his brother, who was hit in the heart by a rubber bullet, he saw his wife's 17 year-old nephew, Michael Kelly, shot. "He was shot in the stomach by a rifleman firing from Derry Walls. I would say that he was the first casualty." said Mr. Liddy.

As he and the priest tried to assist the wounded waving a white handkerchief, soldiers fired on them forcing them to scramble for their lives behind a wall for cover. The dead and dying were denied the consolation of receiving the last rites of their Church from Fr. Bradley due to the intensity of rifle fire from British troops.

The tape has since been passed on to the Bloody Sunday Trust, in Derry. Lawyers, Madden & Finucane, who represent the majority of those murdered and wounded, have sent a letter of thanks for the receipt of the evidence. On behalf of the firm, Fearghal Shiels wrote:

"We are extremely grateful that you have taken the time to send this important piece of evidence to Ireland. Since Mr. Liddy is now sadly deceased, and therefore has not been interviewed by the new Tribunal, this evidence has assumed even greater importance."

All evidence submitted to the inquiry, said Shiels, is posted on the government Web Site.
An excerpted recording of the interview with Mr. Liddy can be found on the BBC Web site by following the preceding link. This link takes you on to the "Dublin Monaghan Bombings" article. Go on.

© 2000, GENERATOR 21.E-mail your comments. We always like to hear from you. Send your snide remarks to



The Liddy Tape - Part 2
by Rod Amis
G21 Special Report

To read this article in Deutsch, Francaise, Italiano, Portuguese, Espanol, copy and paste the complete URL( and enter it in the box after you click through.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Last week The World's Magazine provided the inside story behind how a thirty year old eyewitness account of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Ireland was provided to the new Blair government Bloody Sunday Inquiry in the United Kingdom. Our reporter, Joe O'Neill was directly instrumental in that process. But neither the official Inquiry Web site nor the BBC provided a complete audio or transcript of the John Barry Liddy Tape. As a service to our readers around the world, with the assistance of Ms. Jane Winter of British Irish Rights Watch, G21 provides that transcript.--RA]

...Today in Colmcille Court, the British Army opened fired indiscriminately against unarmed civilians whose only weapons were stones.

My own brother Seamus Liddy was hit in the heart by a rubber bullet. I ran forward to render him assistance along with the brother- in-law's son and the son-in-law. We lifted my brother up to carry him in to the side of the road.

My 17, or -- 15-year-old nephew was shot down, he was hit in the stomach from a rifleman firing from Derry Walls. I would say that he was the first casualty. His name was Michael Kelly, my wife's nephew.

Father Bradley, a Roman Catholic curate, knelt down at his head to administer the Last Rites of the Church. While he was doing so, the British army were still firing into us and four more innocent people fell, three of them consequently died; about the fourth one I am not terribly sure.

Father Bradley then went out on to the road to administer the Last Rites to the four people who were shot. As he went out from behind cover, the British army opened indiscriminate fire on him. Myself and another lad --- his name is unknown to me --- went out and pulled Father Bradley back. I got out my white handkerchief and went out at the corner of the building and waved it in the direction of the British army. As I did so, a burst of automatic or semi-automatic fire hit the side of the building beside where Father Bradley and I were standing.

Another chap at the other side of the road had been hit in the leg. He was lying behind cover and both Father Bradley and I appealed to him to stay where he was. As he tried to crawl forward onto cover, the British army pumped the bullets into him. He appealed to us for help but the fire was so heavy, we couldn't get across the road.

Again Father Bradley tried to get out to the four fellows who were shot. Three of them were dead and one of them raised his arm and beckoned us out to help him, but again we tried to go out and they shot at us.

They were calling from across the street for a priest and a boy who was lying dying on the street with his life's blood pumping out on the street, and again we couldn't get across.
At this the British army came around the corner. They were no more like human beings than the animals that come from the jungle!

I tried to protect Father Bradley. I was struck across the chest with a rifle. Father Bradley was also struck. Then we appealed to the lieutenant in the paratroop regiment, we were again beaten and told to speak only when spoken to.

We were put again at the wall with our hands on the wall and we were severely kicked about the legs and the private parts of our body.

When anyone fell, they were kicked again. We were then ordered into single file and were run down towards the wire netting that surrounded the GPO.

On my way down, a British soldier again swung his rifle and hit me with the butt.
When I fell they hit me with rubber hoses on the back and dragged me by the hair on my head to my feet again.

Again we were put facing the wire netting fences surrounding the GPO in Upper James' Street, again we were physically abused. We were then told to get into the lorry which was about 40 yards away, but before we could reach the lorry, we had to run a gauntlet of about 40 or 50 paratroopers.

Again we were beaten unmercifully. If we didn't get into the lorry quick enough we were again hit with rifle butts.

We were told to sit on the floor facing the back of the lorry... Suddenly they changed their minds and told us to turn around and face the front of the lorry. If we were a little bit slow in doing so we were again unmercifully hammered.

We were threatened with all sorts of repercussions but the lorry eventually moved off. Then it moved to the place of my employment which is known as Fort George, the original naval maintenance base, Strand Road, Londonderry, where I am employed as a barman by the navy, army and their force institutes.

On arrival at camp, we were ordered to leave the lorry one at a time. As we turned around to do so, two paratroopers in the back of the lorry again beat us.

There was a 13 or 14-year-old child just in front of me in the lorry. He asked me if I would look after him and I said I would.

I was a little bit slow getting out of the lorry and I was thrown out of it. When I fell again, I was kicked. I was made to get up and run the gauntlet again. If anyone has ever seen films of a white man running a gauntlet in an Indian village, this will give you some idea of what we had to run. We were taken into a large shed and were told to face the wall and stretch our hand palms outwards against the wall. Again we were kicked about the legs and were told to turn around and line up against barbed wire which we had to clutch with our bare hands. The paratroopers then came in and started identifying.... (The statement was terminated at this point in the interview because Mr Liddy was taken to hospital due to the injuries he received at the barracks.)

People throughout the world have access to the BBC World News. As you know, the Bloody Sunday Inquiry is now meeting daily. We pray that, perhaps, after thirty years, justice will finally be done. --- Rod Amis This link takes you on to the Brendan Hughes interview. Go on.


© 2000, GENERATOR 21.E-mail your comments. We always like to hear from you. Send your snide remarks to

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