THE man taken into custody by the PSNI on Wednesday (October 16) in relation to the murder of Barry McCrory in Londonderry was shot on Bloody Sunday around the time his ‘very good friend’ Gerard Donaghy was shot dead.
Ciarán MacLochlainn provided two statements to the Saville Inquiry describing how he had marched with Mr Donaghy from the Central Drive assembly point on January 30, 1972, before becoming separated from his friend in the Glenfada Park area.
In his statements Mr MacLochlainn expressed anger over the Army’s contention that Mr Donaghy was carrying nail bombs. He also said he was not a member of the republican movement at the time of Bloody Sunday and he was not aware of the Fianna organisation.
He also revealed he had been shot but that a high velocity bullet that punched a hole in his jacket had not pierced his flesh.
The claim was also made to the Inquiry by former Mayor and current Policing Board member Gearóid Ó hEára.
Mr Ó hEára told the Inquiry: “I met Ciaran McLaughlin who had a hole in his coat at the side. He said he had been shot whilst he had been running and the bullet had gone through his clothing.”
Responding to this, Mr MacLochlainn stated: “I was wearing a beige Wrangler short jacket with matching trousers. I noticed that my jacket did have a bullet hole. I have no specific memory of the shot although I believe it must have been when I was running across Glenfada Park.
“Something must have made me check my jacket shortly afterwards. I have a memory of feeling that something was not right, some sort of sixth sense or survival instinct as I was running across the Park coupled with the noise of shots, very, very close behind me.
“I have been asked whether I can describe the bullet hole. My recollection is that it was a clean round hole like that made by a paper punch.”
Mr MacLochlainn said he and Gerard Donaghy had had no interest in rioting at the junction of Rossville Street and William Street as they wanted to hear the speeches at Free Derry corner.
“You felt that you could trust people like John Hume and Bernadette Devlin, who were great political figures. At that age I would have travelled anywhere to listen to Bernadette Devlin speak,” he stated.
He also lambasted Widgery’s finding that Mr Donaghy had been carrying nail bombs - a finding that would ultimately be upheld by Saville.
“The evidence found by Widgery regarding Gerard Donaghy was total lies. It was a complete stitch up about him being a nail-bomber.
“His whole demeanour and body language that day was not of someone who was carrying anything or hiding anything.
“He was not involved in any rioting. We were very close friend and if he had been carrying anything, I am sure he would have told me.”
He continued: “I am disgusted at the slur that had been put on his name and his family. He was an innocent man. The Brits stole his life and then nail bombs were planted on him. I believe that he was stitched up so that it would give the Brits a ‘raison d’être’ to come into the Bog.”
He told the Inquiry the events of Bloody Sunday inspired him to get involved in republican activity.
“Following Bloody Sunday, many people got involved in the Republican movement including myself. I have done two stints in prison for Republican activities. I do not believe people would have become involved in the Republican Movement as they did if Bloody Sunday had not happened the way it did. I hope that the truth comes out and the families of the dead and injured get justice,” he stated.
Mr MacLochlainn provided evidence in person to the Saville Inquiry on January 26, 2004. He was serving an 18 year sentence at the time for possession on November 24, 2000, of a 12 bore, sawn off, double barrel Rigby shotgun; a 9mm pistol; a 9mm self-loading pistol; five inch single shot rifle with telescopic sight, a 7.62 x 39mm AKM assault rifle; a sawn off 12 bore Savage shotgun; a 7.62 x 39mm semi-automatic assault rifle and a substantial amount of ammunition.
A member of the Real IRA at the time he also had a face mask; balaclava; wigs; car defenders; boilersuits; flak jackets; a quantity of uniform-type clothing; a reel of flex; plastic gloves; pepper spray and a ShockTronic stun gun.
He had earlier served a lengthy sentence for possession of a revolver, shotgun and ammunition on February 24, 1988.