Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness was today described standing ‘‘shocked and disbelieving’’ in Londonderry’s Bogside in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday.
The leading republican, now Mid-Ulster MP and Northern Ireland Education Minister, was spotted with four other men ‘‘standing around trying to make sense of what had happened’’ after the Army shootings, according to Brian McGee, giving evidence to the Saville Inquiry.
Mr McGee earlier described the panic which followed the first fatality of that day 29 years ago and commented: ‘‘I remember naively thinking that it was only a matter of time before the IRA arrived but it did not happen.’’
Moments before - but again after Jack Duddy, 17, was shot dead - he saw a lone gunman shoot from a pistol blindly round a corner ‘‘pretty wildly’’ towards Paratroopers, the same figure described by retired Bishop of Derry Dr Edward Daly, who was tending to the teenager.
Mr McGee stated: ‘‘He was told by members of the crowd to get the hell out of there and he could get people killed. He then disappeared from view.’’
The witness, who was 16 on Bloody Sunday, said he was close by with others and recalled ‘‘lots of panicking and screaming’’.
He said: ‘‘I remember naively thinking that it was only a matter of time before the IRA arrived but it did not happen.
‘‘The general feeling with the people I was on the march with earlier had been that the Boys’ the IRA were well out of it and were instead up in the Creggan.
‘‘But now as we were standing against the gable end wall we were willing them to be there and to return fire on the Army.
‘‘However, there was absolutely no way the IRA were there returning fire, except for the incident I described previously, as I would have remembered it.’’
Later that day, as he was returning home, Mr McGee said he saw Mr McGuinness and the others close to Free Derry Corner - further south of the minness has been alleged at the tribunal to have fired the first shot on Bloody Sunday, precipitating the lethal Army gunfire that day.
It has been claimed he was a high-ranking member of the Provisional IRA at the time, popularly believed to have been its Commander in the city - although that allegation was disputed at the Inquiry earlier this week by journalist Eamon McCann.