A man who says he saw three of the Bloody Sunday victims shot beside him also claims there were up to three gunmen in Londonderry’s Bogside that day, the Saville Inquiry heard today.
Donal Deeney alleged he saw two men with firearms and learnt later of a sniper in the district where 13 Catholic men were shot dead when Paratroopers opened fire following a civil rights march in 1972.
Mr Deeney, who was 20 at the time, said he was a rioter and boasted he had never missed a single disturbance and had a "gut instinct" during the march that three or four people would be shot.
He also told the inquiry that reports had filtered out of a US base in the city’s Waterside, used as a Nato listening point, that the Paras were coming in "to sort us out".
A written statement supplied to the inquiry said: "They were sympathetic Americans who would pass on information relevant to the British Army.
"Even low grade information would add up, eg truck movements, intercepted officer-officer conversation on the airways.
"Locals worked well with the Americans. The Americans related to the Catholic/Nationalist community and were accepted by it. It was an integral part of the rumour factory operating in Derry at the time."
Mr Deeney, who supplied three statements to the Inquiry, claimed to have seen Jack Duddy and Hugh Gilmore shot dead and Michael Bridge shot and wounded beside him at different stages in the day.
He also said he came across what may have been Patrick McDaid and another unidentified man lying injured.
He said he saw a man with a pistol - fitting the description of one described by former Bishop of Derry Dr Edward Daly - shortly after the Army shooting started.
Later, when the gunfire subsided and further from the hub of the action around St Columb’s Wells, he claimed he witnessed three Official IRA men leaving a house with a rifle, one of the saying he was going to take up a position in the Bogside.
Mr Deeney also gave "anecdotal evidence", claiming a man told him after Bloody Sunday he had been posted as a republican sniper in the Long Tower area - again beyond the main sphere of activity - on that day and had soldiers in another regiment within his range.
"All afternoon he had two soldiers in his sights but as he had been ordered not to shoot, he didn’t take out those soldiers," he said.