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Friday, 26 January, 2001, 11:14 GMT
Bloody Sunday victim gives evidence
Damien Donaghy
Damien Donaghy was 15 when he was shot
A victim of the Bloody Sunday shootings has said he finally felt exonerated after lawyers for the soldiers who probably shot him accepted he did not throw nail bombs that day.

Damien Donaghy, who was 15 at the time of the shootings in 1972, was speaking after appearing in front of the inquiry into them in Londonderry's Guildhall.

Thirteen Catholic men were killed on 31 January 29 years ago, another died later in hospital.

Mr Donaghy told how he was hit in the right leg and said he believed his wounding was attempted murder.

He rejected suggestions that he may have been hit by a bullet intended for someone near him who appeared to pose a threat.

After 29 years this burden has been lifted from me

Damien Donaghy
He said he had been throwing stones just before he was shot but insisted he was empty-handed when shot.

Mr Donaghy had previously denied any involvement in stone-throwing but said he was admitting it now "because the main reason we are here is for the truth to be told".

When he was asked why he had lied he said: "At the time I was a bit afraid, in a way, in case I would be charged with rioting.

British army patrol on Bloody Sunday
British soldiers on patrol in the Bogside

"I thought that might have given the soldiers credibility for shooting me."

He was also questioned about a soldier's claim that two nail bombs exploded in the moments before the shooting - weapons which justified returning fire under military regulations.

Mr Donaghy replied: "That's lies."

During his evidence, a lawyer acting for two soldiers who opened fire at the time Mr Donaghy was shot, said: "I have not suggested and do not suggest to you that you threw nail bombs on Bloody Sunday."

Outside the Guildhall, Mr Donaghy spoke of his relief and said: "After 29 years this burden has been lifted from me.

"I am happy now, very happy, it'll take a day to sink in but I am top of the world."

Mr Donaghy was probably the first person to be shot while a big civil rights demonstration was taking place in the Bogside.

He was wounded along with John Johnston, 59, close to derelict buildings where soldiers were watching the parade pass by.

Mr Johnston was shot in the shoulder and leg. He died five months later.

The shootings of Mr Donaghy and Mr Johnston happened 15 minutes before Paratroopers came into the Bogside and the other victims were shot.

Journalists warned

The Inquiry also heard from a retired newspaper photographer who claimed an army press officer warned journalists on the evening before the march that troops would be "going in hard".

Larry Doherty, of the Derry Journal, said the advice came during a briefing in the City Hotel.

He said: "It was only afterwards that I attached significance to those words and came to the view that there must have been some element of planning to what happened that day."

The inquiry continues.

See also:

05 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
Claim over Bloody Sunday's 'first shot'
27 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
'Innocents' died on Bloody Sunday
22 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Bloody Sunday 'planned' claim
22 Jun 99 | UK
Behind the MI5 myth
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