Interview with Father Edward Daly, former Bishop of Derry who tended to dying and injured on Bloody Sunday
Q: What did the people expect when they set out to march in 1972?
Daly: Well, the march was a protest against internment and internment was very unjust because people who were completely innocent were locked up in prison without ever being brought to court, without ever being told what they were in prison for. People marched in Bloody Sunday as a protest against that and I'm sure their hopes were that internment would be ended and the people that were in prison would be allowed to come home and that they would know of the charges being made against them. Those were the main hopes of the people. They also hoped for a peaceful march that day and they had no reason to believe that it would be otherwise.
Q: What was the atmosphere like on the day?
Daly: Well, I wasn't there at the beginning of the march. I brought a funeral from Abbey St. just up the road here (points out the window) and Mrs.. Organ who had died and her funeral was at half past two. And I went from her funeral from the house on Abbey Street to the city cemetery. The atmosphere was normal for a Sunday afternoon at that time, although there were soldiers about, although I didn't pass much remarks to them. They were always around at that time. When I came back from the funeral the march was going down past the cathedral. I joined the march and walked down here with them (points out the window to Rossville Street). It was then I noticed paratroopers on the roofs of houses by the sorting (postal) office. There were soldiers and paratroopers there. I came down here to this corner (Aggro Corner) and most of the march went across Rossville Street and over towards Free Derry Corner. But people were chatting and joking, there was nothing much but a bit of shouting at soldiers and that sort of thing. There was some rioting going on down the street here. Not much more than any other day, but bigger than any other march I'd seen in a long time.
Q: When did you first realize something went wrong?
Daly: Well, the first thing was, I was just standing in front of Kells Walk, just about 50 yards from here in the middle of Rossville Street. I was talking to a man and a man came out and said to me there were two people shot from over the tops of the houses on William Street here. They asked me to go up, so I headed up the far entry of Kells Walk. Somebody came along and said there was already a priest there so I decided that I wasn't needed and I came back down to Rossville Street and I got the indication that there was something wrong. Then about ten minutes after that I was still standing here on Rossville Street. I looked over here to Little James Street and I saw three Saracens coming over and soldiers were behind them. Now I've been here every previous riot for the last three years before and spent lots of days and nights at this corner trying to calm things down, because there's a lot of old people that live down here on Kells Walk. I would try and get them to safety if there was gas around or anything else like that, evacuate them and bring them to friends in Creggan or somewhere else. I saw this and I didn't like it. People started running so I ran with them and we ran into the courtyard of the Rossville Flats - they were demolished before you were born. And then Jack Duddy was shot right beside me. That was the first intimation that I got that what was happening was something very serious. And then all hell broke loose. There was firing and people just were murdered. And so there was a period of incredulity. That what you were seeing was a film or a dream. There was no reality about it. So it was a gradual process and we were well aware that there was something seriously wrong.
Q: There are all sorts of theories as to what happened on that day. What do you think?
Daly: I don't know, I just know the results. I know what happened. I think that innocent people were killed unjustifiably by soldiers. The thing I'm interested in is why it happened, which is what I hope this new tribunal will discover. And as well as that they must state quite clearly and unequivocally that the people killed were innocent, as they were. They were not posing any threat to anyone.
Q: What did you think when you heard about the New Inquiry?
Daly: I was very pleased for all the families and for all those that worked so hard and for so long to get a New Inquiry. They've waited 26 years for this. I hope that it will find out what happened on that day. As I said, those of us who were there certainly know what happened, but we don't know why it happened.
Q: What do you hope the New Inquiry will achieve?
Daly: Well, I hope it is established quite clearly and unequivocally exactly what happened and why it happened. Secondly that it will make clear the innocence of those who died and were injured - and I hope that that's what the inquiry will establish.